The Atlanta blog is comprised of articles written about the Atlanta area to support and discuss relevant topics in the greater Atlanta area and northern Georgia.

This post is a part of a sequence of personal posts I have been writing. With the world tossed around from Covid, left seems right and up seems down, hence it is a great season to reflect and grow.

Although, it is quite hard to reflect, grow, work, sleep, workout, dance, play, and live all in the same place, at home. The quarantine is a blessing in that is makes you stop and pause for a minute, but a curse in that you really do not have an option to go places or branch out. It can make you feel stuck.

Atlanta Workers Need a Vacation

Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that Atlanta workers (including myself) need a break from work and their home. They need a vacation, a getaway.

Let me preface this with my old personal (wrong) beliefs. In my early 20’s, as I climbed ladders and worked day and night, I did not fully understand why some people needed vacations so badly.

I didn’t understand the TGIF’s or the weekenders or really what the big fuss was about working. I mean why did people hate where they worked? Why did people shout, “Thank Gosh it’s Friday!”

I didn’t get it.

I thought… it was strange.

Fast forward several years working in a corporate setting, commuting 2-3 hours a day, and trying to change my life for the better, and let’s just say I get it. I freaking get it.

I totally get the TGIF’s and the importance of the weekend now. Likewise, I understand why people would say, “I NEED A VACATION.”

It wasn’t because they hated their life. I wasn’t because they hated people. It’s because you get… well stuck.

Humans need, no crave, progress. After awhile of being stuck for so long, you need to just getaway, reset.

Getting Stuck in Life

Finally, after all of my life I see and have experienced what people mean when they feel lost or stuck.

Naturally, I was blessed with a drive and focus that I guess other people just don’t have. Due to that, I never had to suffer from being lost or feeling stuck in almost any situation. My brain was pre-programmed to find a problem, formulate a solution, and then execute it. Keep moving forward, regardless.

Sadly, that is not the case as much anymore. I find myself slipping as my inner circle and personal life struggle. Although, I still have plenty of drive left in my metaphorical ‘tank’, feeling stuck is prevalent more than ever.

It does give me a better perspective though. It helps me understand people better. I can now relate to the problem, and sympathize where before, I took the approach of toughen up, be a man, or figure it out.

Although now I see, these feelings are not a decision, but a pit. It’s a place where your thoughts fall short, your motivation is asleep, and your emotions are almost lies themselves. Almost as if your soul has taken a break from reality. Maybe it’s busy?

I say all of that just to dive into why I now believe, Atlanta workers need a vacation more than ever. Do not work yourself to death. There is always another project, another client, more paperwork, more numbers to crunch.

Take the time to love yourself. Take time to love your family and your friends. Take time to rest. God created rest for a reason.

Now, let’s dive into my first reason for Atlanta workers taking a vacation.

Resetting Your Mind

While this might be overlooked occasionally, removing your self from a bad situation or a habitual habitat, can do wonders for your mind. This is what a vacation is for.

Sometimes your biggest enemy is where you are most comfortable. Lately, it seems the place I am most comfortable is at home. It’s easy to sleep in, stay up late, neglect my work, play games, eat unhealthy, and live like a slob.

Unfortunately, I have not been taking advantage of the time at home and continually abuse the gifts and graces God has given me. In reality, I need uncertainty. I need difficult situations, and I need a place of discomfort to propel me forward. It makes me realize – Hey, this is not where I want to be. Get my butt in gear and go boy.

A friend of mine luckily texted me out of the blue inviting me on a last minute trip. I jumped at it because I knew it was my chance. It was my chance to feel out of place. To feel things that would make my mind start spinning again.

Move Zach, I told myself, move.

Here I am, two days into the trip. Sitting on the floor of some random persons apartment I met yesterday blogging, and I do not have a clue about what tomorrow will bring. Although, I am more focused than I have been in two weeks at home. There is something about stepping out and facing new challenges in unfamiliar places that resets your mind.

Go reset your mind and find yourself.

Changing Your Atmosphere

As I mentioned above, you need to take a vacation to change your atmosphere. This is the best way to reset your mind and ultimately lead you to a better place.

Changing your atmosphere does three things.

First, as mentioned above, it makes your mind think. It makes it process new information constantly that it usually did not have to. That new information is your surroundings, the people you meet, and what is coming next.

The second thing that changing your atmosphere does is give you a fresh start. So many times at home we get stuck in a routine or in habits we do not want to have. On a vacation, you have a fresh start every day to change those habits or remove them all together by focusing on new experiences. You have a chance to create new habits all together.

The third thing that changing your atmosphere does for you is it allows your mind to reflect and process in ways it traditionally never has time to do. You have moments of being static where in your normal life, you probably don’t make time for it. You go from one thing to the next to the phone to the TV to the bath to eat and on and on. On a vacation your mind has a chance to slowly start to process all the accumulated information from months and maybe even years of life.

You will be amazed at how you start to think and how your perspective starts to change on vacation.

Reflecting on Life

Digging further into these topics, once you have reset your mind by changing your atmosphere, you can now start reflecting.

It will take your mind some time on vacation, but slowly after it processes those months and years of information, you will start to see things more clearly.

Maybe there was a breakup and you don’t know why you felt certain ways. Maybe there was a traumatic event and you really could never express how you truly felt about it. It could even be that there was someone you loved more than yourself, but you didn’t realize it until they were gone.

It’s crazy what our minds can tell us when we stop, reflect, and listen.

I know that as my vacation extends, things start to become clearer to me. Feelings, emotions, motives, and even fears are starting to become clear. It is like my brain is a computer just waiting to upload certain files for months. backed up by lack of sleep, constant work, and daily routine, the files just never got uploaded.

Focusing On What Matters

With the files uploaded and the path starting to become straight, it leads me to the next benefit of vacation. Vacation allows you to relearn how to focus on what matters.

Before vacation I was wasting time watching Netflix, hanging out with people who were not on my path, and lacking focus in my execution of things. With a clearer mind and wayward heart, I can start to focus on what truly matters to myself.

This might be different for everyone, but what matters to me the most is the people I love. My quiet time tells me to work for them. It also reminds me to work for myself just as hard.

You see, I am also learning to love myself along with these people in my life. From that, my drive and motivation are reaching places they haven’t been in a long time. My vision and image of myself is also improving. I had forgotten how to respect myself and the things I was capable of.

There used to be a fire in every step.

By focusing on what matters to myself fully, the fire is returning slowly in every step.

Setting Off on the Right Foot

Unintentionally, my final point to taking a vacation is to force yourself to set off on the right foot (step) when you return home.

Vacation is only temporary. It’s real reason is to properly prepare you to come home and face your life with a full heart, clear mind, and inward drive that will not be easily broken. Vacation is the key to re-opening your door, but you must then walk through.

Remember you have to return to your life, your good and blessed life. Find your peace by resetting your mind in a changed atmosphere. From reflection, start to dig into what really matters to you and focus on it. Once you have that in your sights, set yourself off on the right foot. Step with fire back into your life with full confidence, courage and strength to face any obstacle.

Cheers and God bless.

If you live in the south, chances are you have been to church a time or two. Chances are you have actually been to multiple churches as well for one reason or another. Regardless of your reason to leave a church, join a church, or leave church all together, it is a good idea to stay involved and stay connected in at least one church. Therefore, here are my top 5 reasons to join a church in Atlanta that might help you understand why.

Reasons to Join a Church in Atlanta

There are many reasons to join a church besides the obvious reason of becoming apart of the “Body of Christ” as it is depicted in the Bible. Some of those reasons might seem even more humanly than you might imagine. Besides the spiritual benefits of being around believers who will support your faith, here are my top 5 reasons to join a church in Atlanta:

  • Community
  • Mentorship
  • Investing in Yourself
  • Give Back
  • Resources

These are the five points we are going to dive into. I want to take this from more of a humanly perspective and not just the straight and obvious spiritual benefits from attending a proper church. Lets kick it off with the top of the list – community.

Church Community

Whether you appreciate it or not, every single person needs to have some sort of community in their life.

These communities in our lives help us to find our identity and purpose. They can be communities of people we work with, our family, friends from the gym, maybe even your social circles or anything in between. The church, is just another extension of your community.

We are a reflection of the people around us most of the time. In general, we like to be around like minded, and like bodied people. That way we do not feel too conflicted when becoming apart of the community around us. Although, there are special cases when our community is very different from us and that inner conflict creates change. I encourage people to dig deep and branch out. Find a church community that is slightly different from your direct beliefs. Let them challenge you and make you grow. Just because you do not 100% agree with something the pastor says or the people in the community, does not mean the church is not for you. Be open, be vulnerable to learning more than you think you know.

Take the chance to not only join a church, but join a church community that will make you grow.

Mentorship

In addition to joining the church and growing your community, you open yourself up to meeting new mentors. People who will hopefully strengthen you and give you courage. People who will stir inspiration, desire, and hopefully spiritual fortitude in yourself.

These mentors will undoubtedly be in every church. Usually they are the pastor and elders, but not always. Allow these men and women to penetrate your outer defense of filtering out anything people say, and allow them to speak to your heart. Allow new leaders to speak to your truths, to your pain, to your future, and to your purpose. You need new mentors in your life constantly. It is always best to find these mentors to learn on in hard times, to test your understanding of things, and to ultimately grow into a better person.

I am not saying every church will have a pastor that is bound to expand your horizon and understanding of life, but every church will have a leader in it somewhere. Sometime they are hiding in the crowd, and other times they are on the stage. Join an Atlanta church and find your mentor. Someone who knows God, puts him first, and seeks to live an honorable life spreading his wisdom.

Investing in Yourself

If you are Christian then obviously going to church is a means to invest in your spiritual knowledge and understanding. Even if you are not seeking spiritual growth, joining a church will still give you invaluable direction, understanding, and truths to life that can be applied daily.

You truly do not need to be a christian to understand and appreciate the Bible. Yes, somethings might come by hard to believe, but the general gist of the stories, the parables, and the meanings will ultimately help you find a stronger mental state. Joining a church and listening to someone speak about real life, the meaning of it, and how to better yourself is never a bad idea. Therefore, I encourage those that not even christian to also find a church and invest in yourself. Take advantage of the gathering, the lessons, the teachings and find a way to benefit from them. There are a million ways to learn from the stories and parables. I challenge you to find at least one and make yourself a better person for it.

Join a church to invest in yourself.

Give Back

Not that you can’t give back to other places, but the church is a perfect place to give back in multiple ways.

For instance, you can make donations to the church to further their reach and cause. Another great thing to do is volunteer. Throughout every church there are volunteers needed for multiple things. You can volunteer to watch and teach the children during services or possibly to even clean up the church in the after hours. In addition, every church needs someone to help with the music that is played during the service and most need help these days with videography and photography. Not to mention the days of social media are here and who doesn’t know a church that needs help with that?

Seriously, there are a ton of ways you can give back and help a church or the community it is directly involved with.

Resources

The last piece here I want to touch on, but not over reach on, is resources.

I do not want this to be taken in the wrong way, but the church is a resource. It is a a resource for all of those things above including education, connections, and friends. You see, you never know who you could meet going to church, you never know how you might be moved or impacted, and you definitely never know what you might learn. The church, and every church, is a resource that you could use. That might sound selfish, but it is true.

Now, I am not saying go to church looking for people to meet or things to get out of it. Although, it is a benefit of joining a church right? You get to meet new people and hopefully learn new things! A perk is a perk in my book, and it is something to consider.

Don’t be afraid to use your resources in life.

Join A Church In Atlanta

I hope this list has given you a few reasons why you should try and join a church besides the obvious spiritual and emotional benefits. There are a ton of additional reasons to join an Atlanta church, but those are for your to discover on your own! Thanks for reading and make sure to get out there and join a church near you!

Cheers

If you live in Atlanta or planning to visit, you need to know how to get around the city! Traffic is as synonymous with Atlanta as Santa is with Christmas., syrup with waffles, and ketchup with mustard.

You just can not go anywhere in Atlanta without experiencing some sort of traffic. It is very easy to be stuck for 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on where you are going and the time of day. For these reasons, I wanted to make a list of some ways to get around Atlanta that might help you! It is very important to plan ahead when traveling around Atlanta.

Driving in Atlanta

Living in Atlanta is a luxury and a curse all at the same time. So many people want to be here because of the thriving job market, positive outlook, and southern charm. Unfortunately, non of those things are complimented by the herd of traffic we experience day by day.

If you are going to live and drive in the city, you are going to want a gas efficient vehicle. There are plenty on the market now, so it should not be a problem. For instance, if you live 5 to 10 miles away from your work, and you work in the city, your commute could still be 20 to 40 minutes on some days. Easily, you would have to fill your gas tank up 4 to 5 times a month which is a hefty expense once you add it all up yearly.

Drive at Specific Times

Specifically, the traffic get increasingly bad around specific times:

  • 12:00 am to 6:00 am – Light traffic
  • 6:00 am to 9:00 am – Heavy traffic
  • 9:00 am to 12:00 am – Medium traffic
  • 12:00 am to 7:00 pm – Heavy traffic around the city, still light traffic on the highways until 2:30 pm.
  • 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm – Medium traffic
  • 9:30 pm to 12:00 am – Light traffic

Some strategies I use are leaving early for work every morning. Basically, this cuts my commute for a good 15 to 20 minutes every time I leave 30 minutes earlier. Another one is, take an early lunch to zip in and out of lines to beat the lunch rush.

Additionally, if you can stay and get your personal work down around the office after hours until 7:00 pm, you can miss most of the evening heavy traffic. For my job personally, I have to study for exams. I do this right after work for a few hours to cut my drive home by around 20 minutes on average.

Learning to drive in Atlanta

Driving in Atlanta is not like normal driving. Every highway has 8 to 10 lanes and it can be quite a challenge sometimes. Additionally, there are a large amount of 18 wheelers traveling through the Atlanta area everyday which can be intimidating for newer drivers.

When driving here, it is best not to be too aggressive. Atlanta is not a city to speed around cars and try to look cool in your convertible. No one in this city really cares and you will probably annoy people more than anything. Instead, be polite on the road and understand most people are tired of the traffic everyday but tolerate it.

Parking

A huge part of driving around the city can be parking. Luckily, there are plenty of parking garages around the city for events and meetings. You can practically find a spot anywhere, and just about every parking garage will let you park there for a small fee.

Most businesses or jobs additionally do not come with free parking. For instance, I work in one of the nicest buildings in Buckhead, and we still have to pay monthly for our parking. ouch.

Marta

Another way to meander the city is to take MARTA. Built all the way back in 1971, MARTA is still one of the most reliable ways to transverse the city. Ironically, the trains and stations are all pretty clean as well.

Getting on a MARTA train or bus is simple really and they can save a ton of time during rush hour. Another great feature is the ability for Marta to take you all the way from north of Atlanta to the Airport all on the same train ride. The clear is a great added travel benefit for the city.

Uber + LYFT

Uber and Lyft both have a huge presence in the city of Atlanta. They might not be the cheapest way to transport around the city, but they are the most efficient and huge time savers. You can easily grab a ride within 1 to 5 minutes and be on your way to your destination without having to find a parking spot or remembering your keys!

I will say that during the busy hours of Atlanta, the fees can climb quickly, and you really do not want to drop $50 on one ride. Most rides within the city will only cost you $15 – $25 dollars, but if you have to go out of the perimeter, you might want to just use Marta most of the way and them get a ride for the last little bit of your trip.

Bird

Bird is a type of scooter that can be found all around Atlanta. While Bird is not the only brand of scooters that are around the city, it is one of the most well known. It seems these days you can not walk anywhere in the city without seeing a couple of scooters lying around waiting to be used.

From experience, the scooters are extremely fun. They are a great way to see the city or simply get from point A to point B if you do not have a car. The other clear plus is that you do not have to pay for parking where ever you are going because the scooters can just be left on the sidewalk after you are finished with them.

Bikes

Another great way to see the city, but with a little bit more work are the bikes! All around midtown and most of the main part of Atlanta there are stations where you can rent bikes. The bikes will typically only have a few gears (if any at all) and a small basket on the front. they are usually one solid color like bright red or light blue.

From experience, I enjoyed riding a bike we rented. A group of friends of mine all went to the Mercedes Stadium to see an Atlanta United game. Afterward, they wanted to rent bikes to ride back to our part of town. Quickly after a few blocks I realized how out of shape I was since they were racing up a hill, but it was super fun passing by all the people walking.

Traveling Around Atlanta

While there are a bunch of ways to see the city and travel around Atlanta, there are some that are better than others. I highly recommend using Uber or Lyft if you are visiting. It is the easiest solution since the entire city has cars ready to go at almost any hour of the way.

My second favorite option would have to be Marta. Although, there are only select location this applies too. Regardless, get out there and have fun exploring Atlanta!

Established in 2012 per the Georgia Corporation division, but opened in 2013, Lovies BBQ started off as a small brick and mortar location in Buckhead, Georgia. Quickly, this small operation become one of the most frequented Barbecue spots in all of Buckhead. Lovies is quickly bringing back the comfort food of BBQ back to the busy streets with its slow smoked meats, community focus, and unique menu.

Lovies BBQ In Buckhead

Since 2013, Lovies has continued to grow in terms of popularity and services. There newest fastest growing service is their catering with the ability to serve from 20 to over 1000 people anywhere in the Greater Atlanta Area.

Even at this large number of people, they still maintain their food quality and premium service. A great feature is during the holidays where they offer full smoked turkeys to be picked up for Thanksgiving and Christmas given you placed a reservation ahead of time.

The secret is their huge smokers they have built and utilize to run these massive orders. These smokers give them the ability to prep for huge orders consistently without messing up their normal services and daily customer base that come to the store to dine or order to-go.

Lovies Location

The location of Lovies is a great spot for any thriving restaurant. Right in downtown Buckhead has huge demand due to all of the business men and woman that require lunches daily. Occasionally myself and my colleagues will even visit the BBQ spot for lunch and sit outside on the patio. The food service is always quick, the prices are reasonable, and parking is typically available.

Luckily, this location is also close enough for most people in Buckhead to walk to. Simply cross over 400 if you are coming from Lenox and walk across the street in front of the Atlanta Tech Village. Lovies is on the first floor of Naanstop the Indian restaurant, right beside the Chipotle.

Address in Buckhead

If you still need the address to find the location, here it is: 3420 Piedmont Rd NE Atlanta, GA 30305

Hours of Operation

Lovies operates at standard hours of operation with some changes around the holidays. For simplicity, here are the normal hours, but remember to check up on their website for holiday hours:

  • Mon-Fri 7am-9pm
  • Sat-Sun 8am-9pm

On most of the days you can catch the owner helping run the shop. He even walks around speaking to the guests and getting to know them. I believe the business has done so well because of his passion for his customers and like-able character. The constant attention to detail really sets this place apart from many other franchise options in the area.

Favorite Menu Items

Let me just say, everything I have tried on this menu has been amazing. There are a few things in particular that really set the bar to new levels, so I am going to focus on those items.

Brussels Sprouts

I know what you are thinking. Why in the heck would I put brussel sprouts as a favorite menu item for this place? Hear me out. I love roasted veggies as much as any vegan, but these things are special. Not only do they slow roast the brussel sprout, but they marinate them in a brine of balsamic vinegar. Although this may not sound appealing, they are by far my favorite side on the menu, so make sure to give these a try. Just for reference, every person from my office orders these with their meal.

Brisket Tacos

If you’ve read any of my other food reviews or blogs, you will know I have a soft spot for brisket. While not all BBQ spots in Atlanta offer this meat dish, this place always does! Not only do they offer it, but they have weekly specials like the brisket tacos that are absolutely amazing. Get ready to get a little mess, because these tacos will make you want to never stop eating and probably get on you some.

Brisket Biscuit

While the tacos are a fan favorite and seasonally added to the Friday lunch menu, the Brisket Biscuit is also a hands down favorite. By the way, try to say Brisket Biscuit 5 times fast. The biscuits, I am fairly sure, are buttermilk biscuits hand made from scratch. These suckers are so fluffy and tasty that I could easily have a meal of just biscuits. The ONLY down side is they fall apart while you are eating your brisket biscuit. To be honest, it just makes you slow down and savor the meal even more, so I have no complaints.

Salads

Again, do not hate me for suggesting a favorite other than straight BBQ. I want to show some variety for this place. Therefore, the salad portions are amazing. The bowl is huge, and I have never seen my co-worker finish his entire salad when we go here. All I am saying is, you have no excuse for being vegan and not eating here. There is plenty of love and Lovies for every food critic and snob.

In case you still are not sold on Lovies, here are some of the other popular options on the menu:

SANDWICHES

All sandwiches come with one side.

  • Pulled Pork or Chicken – 8.75
  • Beef Brisket – 9.75
  • Lovies sliders (mini pulled pork, chicken, brisket, or chicken tender sliders) – prices vary

Biscuits

  • Brisket Biscuit – 4.50
  • The Lil’ Kay (Tender with honey and hot sauce) – 4.50
  • Chicken Tender Biscuit – 4.00
  • Country Ham Biscuit ( with Red Eye gravy) – 4.00

Plates

Each Plate comes with a choice of two sides.

  • Pulled pork or chicken plate – 11.75
  • Rib Plate (1/2 pound of ribs) – 12.75
  • Beef brisket plate – 13.75
  • Combo plate (pork, chicken, ribs) – 14.75
  • Smoked wings (6 slow smoked wings) – 10.75
  • Chicken tenders – 10.75
  • BBQ Quesadilla (pork, chicken, or brisket) – 12.75
  • Ribs (half slab) – 14
  • Ribs (full slab) – 22

Salads

Each salad comes with a choice of dressing which are Ranch, Italian, Blue Cheese, Honey Mustard, or Oil/Balsamic Vinegar.

  • Pulled pork or chicken – 11.75
  • Sliced beef brisket – 13.75
  • Chicken tender salad – 12.75

BBQ in Buckhead

While there are plenty of options to grab lunch and dinner in Buckhead, Lovies offers more than just a tasty food experience. There is history and culture in their restaurant, plenty of love from the owner, and a local feel right in the middle of the busy streets of Buckhead.

Do not forget to reserve your turkey ahead of time for the holidays with them and keep up with their social media pages!

More BBQ

If you like BBQ and want another place to try out, then check out my other blog post here about an up and coming spot in Grayson, Georgia, Big Daddy Que.

Established in 2012, Big Daddy Que started off as a food truck and catering company that had a small brick and mortar location in Loganville. Through word of mouth and tasty food, people found out this place meant serious Barbecue. Now, Big Daddy Que is smoking the competition in Gwinnett with its high quality meats, friendly attitude, and special sauces.

Big Daddy Que

Over the years, Big Daddy Que has amassed a strong following through Gwinnett county even winning best BBQ in the county in 2015. Through strong community relationships and determination to provide the best BBQ around, they opened a new Brick and Mortar location right in the town of Grayson which is apart of the new Rail Yard.

The new location at the Rail Yard is a great spot for this thriving BBQ restaurant. On the weekends you can catch the owner in the back smoking racks of ribs and brisket for the busy nights. Since everything is smoked and prepped on site, you can guarantee that the meats are fresh, tinder and practically fall off the bone making it the top of the line BBQ spot around.

In addition, Big Daddy Que has a special way of making you feel welcome and at home. The owners are constantly walking around checking on the guests and making sure your dining experience is perfect. Their menu reflects this home feeling by offering tons of fun name options for all types of BBQ dishes.

BBQ Menu Options

My personal favorite thing to order on the menu is the brisket sandwich with a side of fries and fried okra. I grew up a brisket lover and that has never changed. Luckily, I have a new favorite spot close to home that can satisfy that brisket kick.

Another great thing about this BBQ spot is they always have brisket on the menu. A crowd favorite, brisket is not always offered on a lot of the menus around Gwinnett, but this place does it right. You can even ask for a little bit of bark on the sandwich which is the burnt part of the meat to add some additional flavor. Did I forget to mention, the sides are enough for two people, so make sure to bring a friend because there is plenty to share in the basket full of fries you get.

Here are some of the other popular options on the Big Daddy menu:

Appetizers

  • Pork and Cheese Fries– Fries, pulled pork, melted cheddar, pepperoni bits, sour cream
  • Ultimate Meat and Cheese Fries– Fries, pulled pork, chopped brisket, chopped turkey, melted cheddar, pepperoni bits, sour cream
  • Fried Pickles– Dill chips fried, spicy ranch
  • Kait’s Pig-n-Cheese – Mac Daddy Cheese, smoked pulled at the peak pork, sweet sauce
  • Smoked Sausage and Cheese Platter– Smoked sausages, assortment of cheeses, pepperoni peppers, famous rub

Sandwich

  • Big Daddy Sammich– ½ pound of slow-smoked pulled at the peak pork, creamy coleslaw, sauce
  • The Roger Dodger– ⅓ pound of slow-smoked pulled at the peak pork, pickles, red onion.
  • The Andrew – ⅓ pound of slow-smoked pulled at the peak pork, pimento cheese
  • Brisket SandwichSlow-smoked seasoned beef brisket, sauce
  • Big Daddy Dawg– 100% beef half-pound, cheese, slaw
  • Southern Dog– 100% beef hotdog, cheese, coleslaw

Sides

  • Big Daddy Que beans
  • Mac Daddy Cheese
  • Brunswick Stew
  • Squash Casserole
  • Fried Okra
  • Collard Greens
  • French Fries
  • Green Beans

Barbecue Sauces

  • Sweet mustard – Strong mustard sauce that reminds me of a hot dog from the Baseball Park. It is rather good, but I liked using it on my sides like the fries.
  • Vinegar Sauce – Thin sauce with a tang. This sauce goes really well on a sandwich to give it a little twist of flavor. You could also mix this sauce with some of the other for added flavor.
  • Spicy Sauce – Thick sauce with a kick. Personally, I enjoyed this sauce although it was quite thick. Either way, it was nice to mix it up with the other sauces by using this one every other bite.
  • Sweet Sauce – Standard tasty BBQ sauce with a hint of sweet flavors. This sauce really is the bread and butter of most of the dishes here. It is your all time favorite and typical BBQ sauce. I might have had too much of this one.

BBQ in Grayson

While there are plenty of options to dine in the small town of Grayson, Big Daddy Que sure makes for a great family experience. There are always smiling faces coming out of their restaurant which means every person likes what they find here.

Make sure to swing by and see their new location soon or you might just miss out on a great new spot to dine!

More BBQ

If you like BBQ and want another place to try out closer to Atlanta, then check out my other blog post here about a spot in Buckhead, Georgia, Lovies BBQ.



If you live in Gwinnett or if you just need a place to escape and grab a cup of rejuvenating joe, then I have a spot for you. The Boulder Creek Coffee House is just the place to feel relaxed and grab a hot cup of liquid energy.

The local coffee shop has slowly been growing in the hearts of all those close to the Lawrenceville Square. Due to all the suggestions and recommendations, I had to try it out for myself and write a quick blog post about it.

Boulder Creek Coffee Shop

Boulder Creek Coffee Shop

Due to all the people talking about this place, I had to make a stop and try it out for myself. Being an avid coffee drink and a fan of all places comfy, it was a great idea. As a small town coffee shop, there are little expectations put on this place to be quality, but the shop does not disappoint.

Hosted in an old vintage house right in the middle of downtown Lawrenceville, the Boulder Creek Coffee House is in a perfect location to get plenty of exposure. The location offers people a get away, right in the middle of downtown as the busy cars drive right by the house.

Even parking is a breeze since the parking deck for the Lawrenceville square is right next door. Simply pull in on the left and park for free! Afterward, walk right outside of the parking garage and on your left will be the vintage white house.

If you are going in the front of the building (Pictures at the top), you will see beautiful lights strung out across the yard to give you a peaceful and bright feeling. In addition, people get to walk in the front door just like entering a real home.

Find A Place To Chill

After entering, walk through the house until you come to the second entry way on your right, and you will find the main counter. Here you can browse the menu and place any order. There is plenty to select from on the menu from coffee, pastries, to even some real food options for those looking for a bite to eat.

After ordering, you can go find a seat downstairs by the warm fireplace, on the couch, or tuck yourself away in a comfy corner. There are great options for seating down stairs, but if you do not see a good one, just walk up stairs and find a good spot by a window in one of the many rooms available.

Even if those spots are all filled up, there are several tables around the porch that anyone is welcome to sit at given the weather is decent. Heck, there is even a hammock in the front strung out across two trees for people to enjoy. Clearly, seating is rarely an issue at this coffee shop, and there is plenty of inspiration around the house for creatives to pull from.

Renting a Room

Boulder Creek Meeting Rooms

A cool thing about this coffee shop is that you can rent rooms for meetings, parties, or simply to get some work done with your business team! The rooms are all upstairs and offer a good amount of privacy given there is a door you can shut. Each room is quite big and can easily fit around 6 to 8 people comfortably.

Lawrenceville White House

While the coffee shop is a hit among the town and people that visit, the old house has some history behind it. You see, the house was owned by the Mayor, Jule Oakes. As the story goes, Oakes loved coffee with a strong passion. So much so, that the mayor kept a percolator full of brew going at all times that would fill the house with the vibrant smell of fresh coffee.

The mayor had a select preference for his coffee which is refereed to as “Cowboy Coffee”. This was coined as a term of the times and meant he loved his cup of joe strong as he could get it. Even his grandchildren and friends would comment on just how much the old mayor loved his coffee. The Boulder Creek team like to think, Oakes would be happy of the fact that his home is now a coffee shop for all to enjoy.

Menu Items

Since you will probably come here for more than the site of the old white house, here are some of the menu items I tried out, some of their most popular, and a few that sound pretty good!

Coffee Styles

  • Quick Brew
  • Pour Over
  • Siphon
  • Cold Brew
  • French Press
  • Espresso

Specialty Coffee

  • Nutella Cappuccino
  • Mocha
  • Cortado
  • Shaker
  • Iced Latte

Tea Options

  • Cheek Breeze Tea
  • Georgia Dream
  • Iced Matcha
  • Matcha Lemonade
  • London Fog
  • Chai

Pastries

  • Baked Fudge
  • Fussell Cakes
  • Affogato
  • Cheescake

Tasters

  • The Riviera
  • Boulder Burrito
  • Avocado Toast
  • Overnight Oats

Food

  • Chicken Salad – tasty and freshly made
  • The Guy Spicer – Chicken, pepper jack, jalapeno raspberry jam, crushed red pepper, whole wheat
  • The Montana – Roast beef, pepper jack, mozzarella, peppers, toasted ciabatta
  • Warbington – ham and cheese, la monte cristo, gouda, rosemary
  • The Patterson Melt – grilled quesadilla, chicken, bacon, pepper jack, chipotle aioli
  • Godfather – toasted ciabatta, chicken, parmesan, mozzarella, marinara, oregano

Final Thoughts

Overall, my experience was a positive one, and I would definitely go back to Boulder Creek Coffee House. The wifi worked well, the coffee was strong, and the seating was comfortable. Not to mention there was a great vibe, and the location was perfect for the group I met with.

Writing has always been my Achilles heel of filmmaking. I love directing, cinematography, lighting, and editing, but writing has always been difficult for me. I always strive to be original and creative, but when I sit down to write, I either end up writing a movie that already exists or something i’m not even interested in. Therefore, I want to point out a few tips that could help in writing a movie you love.

Recently I have been working on a short film script and I always get to a point where I’m disinterested in what I’ve written. However, I think I’ve finally created a checklist for writing something I love while also making something worth watching. It’s simple, but it’s worth checking over when you’re writing your next film.

Entertaining Theme

Movies have always been about entertainment. Making something you and your audience want to sit down and enjoy.

It seems obvious to say but when you sit down to create something it’s easy to get lost in the process of making it, how its going to look on camera, and who you’re going to cast. Although, when you take a step back and look at it from an audience members point of view, you have to ask “is this entertaining?”. If it is, then carry on and make your movie, if not, maybe take a second to see what you could change to make your audience happy.

Theme Design

Now that you’ve catered to your audience it’s time to cater to yourself. Look over your script and make sure it touches on themes you care about. What message are you trying to convey with your film? What do you want the audience to learn from watching your movie?

These questions will help you come up with a story that you are passionate about. This step is vital in my opinion. Because, there’s always a point in a project when I think to myself “why am I doing this?”. If I don’t have an answer, I throw the script out. If I have a message I want other people to hear that I genuinely care about, then that pulls me through the doubt I have about the project.

Film Budget

Budget, of course, controls everything. It can be difficult to write a story within your budget, so what I suggest doing is writing your story however you want. Afterward, start to scale it down to something that is doable with your budget. Don’t sacrifice your message, but keep in mind that a well done, low budget movie is better than a poorly done big budget film. It’s all about quality.

This part in particular is something I struggle with when writing. I would love to make sci-fi movies, but at the moment, I don’t have the resources to make them convincing.

As I mentioned, when you’re writing, let your mind flow free. Create whatever you desire, but when it’s time for draft two, start to scale down to something you can realistically make. There’s nothing wrong with shelving a project either. If you have a script you absolutely love but can’t make it at the moment, then hold onto it. Make something else before hand and work towards making your next film a reality when you have the time.

Short Film Making

It’s easy for me to get caught up in an idea only to realize that I either don’t like the script, or I’ve rewritten a movie I already like by accident. So, when you’re sitting down to create your next script, keep yourself in mind, remember your audience, and write within your budget.

Over the past few months I have been working on writing my own short film. These steps have helped me stay on track and create something I love. Hopefully, these steps can help you in writing a movie you love as well.

Grayson is a small town in county of Gwinnett that has been growing rapidly over the past 15 years. One of the largest contributing factors to this growth has been small businesses like the Grayson Coffee House!

Grayson Coffee House

The Grayson Coffee House has been a staple in the small town of Grayson since 2014. What once was an old white house beside the Grayson Elementary School that had little purpose, has now become one of the most frequented places in the city.

Today, everyone visits the coffee shop become not only a great place to get coffee, but also to gather. The coffee shop has a meeting room that can be used for all kinds of events. The more the merrier in this town, because there is always a group of people trying to meet up.

In addition, there is a growing trend of musicians in the city of Grayson that use the coffee shop as a venue! Typically, this is on Saturday nights around 6 pm where local musicians will serenade the guests throughout the night. You can catch plenty of your favorite local artists here, so make sure not to miss them by keeping up with the music schedule!

Coffee In Gwinnett

Surprisingly, the white house has made such an impact that the entire county knows about it. The coffee shop has won best coffee house in Gwinnett multiple times beating out a couple of other hot spots in towns much larger than ole’ Grayson.

This is mostly due to the home town feel the old house gives, great coffee offered by the establishment, and the constant care shown from the owners. Everyone that enters the shop is treated like you’re walking into someone’s house and the vibe is always upbeat and pleasant.

Coffee Review

Besides the public accolades, here is my personal review of the coffee shop.

Parking

On busy days, it is sometimes hard to find a parking spot because so many people love this place, but if this is the case then you can always park nearby and walk over! Even if they do not have room inside then hopefully the weather is nice to sit out on the deck. I have done that a time or two.

While the parking can rarely be a small issue, it does not deter myself in anyway from constantly going to the coffee shop even at the busiest hours.

Jittery Joes

The coffee here is supplied by Jittery Joes which is always bold and savory. I am a fan of strong coffee, so I always like a black cup of coffee in the morning to get the senses working.

Along with the coffee, a huge plus of this coffee shop is the bakery items, sandwiches, and of course the frozen coffee choices. I have never had a drink here I did not like, and likewise there is nothing better than grabbing a fresh sandwich and soup while studying to make sure you can stay focused and not have to leave due to a hungry stomach.

Seating

A plus about the old house is all of the natural lighting that comes into the coffee shop. Most of the tables around the establishment are either by a window, or there is a large window right nearby to make it feel a little bit warmer inside.

In addition, most of the chairs are more comfy than your average coffee shop chairs which make work sessions more bearable. The wifi is also reliable which is a necessity for those trying to work online or blog.

My favorite places to sit are in the meeting room where you can grab a big table and spread your stuff out. Although, there are some nice tables in the back by a few windows that are partially secluded depending on how busy it is. As I mentioned above, the deck is always a solid choice as well on those summer and fall afternoons.

Menu Items

Here are some of my favorite menu items for the Grayson Coffee House:

Drink Menu

  • Coffee – Jittery Joes (Hot or iced)
  • Nitro Coffee
  • Cold Brew
  • Shot in the Dark – Coffee with an extra shot
  • Mocha
  • Latte (Hot or iced)
  • Frozen Maui Mocha (Comes in multiple flavors)
  • Frozen Fruit Smoothie (multiple flavors)
  • Chai Latte or Dirty Chai
  • Hot Apple Cider
  • Zoda Water

Food Menu

There are multiple bread options, cheese options, and bagel options for certain items listed below:

  • Assorted Bagels topped with your choice of cream cheese, cheese, butter, or chicken salad
  • Chicken Salad Sandwich
  • Turkey Cheese and Pesto
  • Pimento Cheese
  • Ham and Cheese
  • Yogurt and Granola

Baked Goods

  • Brownie
  • Cinnamon Rolls
  • Assorted Muffins
  • Assorted Scones
  • Cookies
  • Cupcakes
  • Fruit Bars

Drink, Eat, Relax

Overall, this small town coffee shop has grown up fast. Everyone in Gwinnett loves it, and that does not seem to be changing anytime soon. If you need a place to relax or just a place to grab a quick cup of Joe, make sure to swing by the Grayson Coffee House and get comfortable once you get in there.

The quality of food does not get any better in the little town of Grayson than the thriving and packed Mediterranean grill, Sam’s on Main. With quality and community at it’s heart, Sam’s has quickly become the hottest spot around all of Gwinnett.

Sam’s on Main Restaurant

From the very beginning this small mom and pop shop had a new flavor to it. Not only a flavor you could taste, but a flavor you could experience as well.

Unlike many places where you will walk in, dine and leave without so much of a meaningful interaction, Sam’s is immensely different. You will almost certainly see Sam himself come out of the kitchen, walk around the restaurant and greet every table throughout the night.

He has done this since the beginning of their restaurant opening in old town Grayson, and the impact is noticeable. Now, Sam and his wife, Nicole, seem to know every single person in the Grayson area.

In business, relationships are important, and in a small town, relationships are all that matter.

While Sam is a bubbly charismatic character with love for all, he is also a serious business man that knows what he is doing. Likewise, his partner Nicole leads the business in most of the financial and marketing aspects which help complete the team as a dynamic duo.

Restaurant Origin

Sam

While many people may think Sam just opened up this restaurant on a whim, he really did not. Sam has been a masterful chef all of his life and had been planning this for over a decade. Coming from Kurdistan, Sam made his way to the U.S with hopes of starting his own restaurant one day. That dream would take him many years to accomplish.

Along Sam’s journey he had the privilege to cook for large net worth clients, 5 star restaurants, and many tables around America. From these experiences, he has real sous-chef talent and creativity to bring to the table.

Eating at Sam’s

Let’s let the food talk for itself. The food at Sam’s on Main is by far an experience in itself. My personal favorites on the menu are the Knockout Shrimp and the Lamb
Sauté.

Knockout Shrimp

Knockout Shrimp

Similar to Bone Fish’s Bang Bang Shrimp, but way better, the Knockout Shrimp are out of this world. Lightly fried in a crispy batter with a peppery and sweet sauce drizzled over top, these shrimp will put any competition to shame.

You can order these bad boys as an appetizer or as an entree that comes on a sandwich. You’re guaranteed to love every bite. These shrimp have sort of become a staple of the establishment which got everyone quickly talking around town.

Lamb Sauté

One of my personal off the cuff favorites, the Lamb Sauté, is for those people not afraid to have all of their food on the plate touching. Sautéd with freshly cut onions, red peppers, garlic, roasted lamb and laid on top of a bed of Basmati yellow rice, this dish is a hungry man’s savory treat.

I am a huge fan of Sautéd food, so this might not be for everyone, but I recommend giving this a try!

Sam’s Menu

While my favorites are undeniably delicious, there is an array of awesome food to check out. Here are some of the most popular:

Starters

  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Fried Calamari
  • Knockout Shrimp
  • Hummus Hummus Hummus

Flat Breads

  • Prosciutto and Balsamic Green
  • California Chicken

Burgers

  • The Bulldog
  • Portabella Swiss and Steak Burger
  • Bourbon Bacon Jam
  • Lamb Burger

Mediterranean Dishes

  • Gyro
  • Shawarma
  • Falafel Sandwich
  • Kofta Kabob Sandwhich
  • Grilled Pita Chicken Sandwhich
  • Shish Kabob

Seafood

  • ShaShuka Salmon
  • Chilean Seabass
  • Fried Flounder
  • Rainbow Trout
  • Knockout Shrimp

Entrees

  • Filet Mignon
  • Compart Duroc Pork Rib Chop
  • Choice Lamb Hind-Shank
  • New Zealand Rack of Lamb

Final Thoughts

Grayson, one of the smallest places in Gwinnett County, seems to keep up in terms of growth, development and food with the other towns in this large county. This is all thanks to amazing restaurants and businesses like Sam’s on Main.

If you are ever driving through this small town or if you live in the area, then make sure to stop into Sam’s at the rail yard. Make sure to take a moment to try out this hidden gem. More than likely, you’ll even get to meet Sam himself.

If you are looking for a great spot to get some authentic and delicious Chinese food, then make sure to make a stop at the Mah Jong Restaurant in Snellville.

Atlanta is a huge place, but there are many amazing locations just outside of the city if you drive a little bit. This one in particular is native to the Gwinnett area. For those privileged to live close to or in the Gwinnett area, you more than likely already know about this little gem.

For those looking to find this place easily, it is right next to the Music and Arts center in Snellville. There is also a Party City a couple of doors down that makes it easier to spot. In addition, there is always plenty of parking which is a growing problem in the Gwinnett area.

Mah Jong Restaurant

Mah Jong Restaurant has been open for over 15 years and boasts of a great reputation in the community and as a restaurant. If you have ever been here, you will know they are fast at everything they do. From getting you seated, to getting your drinks, to cleaning off your table, and even to prepping your food. You never have to wait.

Dining Room

The main dining room has a somber vibe of an old Chinese style restaurant with all of the trinkets, music, and design to fit. Just sitting in the restaurant is peaceful and gives you a sense of being in another place all together.

While this area sits probably over 100 people comfortably, there is an additional back room for large parties or meetings that can be rented out and used by anyone. This is a great feature for a Chinese style restaurant because most of the dishes you order are family style at dinner, so sharing with a group of people is a great idea!

Another great feature of the main room is there are massive windows across the front of the building which let in tons of natural light giving the place a great warm and inviting feel to the entire experience. I recommend sitting near the window booths and enjoying the natural light.

Mah Jong Service

In addition, the service at Mah Jong is consistently impeccable and the waiters are extremely friendly.

There is one server in particular, Mum, that every time we come in will walk over and sit with us to say hello. It makes the experience that much more enjoyable and memorable when we slowly get to know the people that work here overtime.

Another great thing is usually someone is busing tables and cleaning while another person is constantly refilling waters, clearing tables, and catering to the guests. There are not many places that still offer this level of service in the Gwinnett area like Mah Jong does where you are being catered to at all times.

Chinese Food in Snellville

For Chinese food in Snellville, Mah Jong ranks among the top.

When you get here, it is always a great idea to order some hot tea! The tea is great in the cold weather and gives you a little energy as well. I always start off with the hot tea and a water.

Of course, the number one reason to come here is for the food. If you are unfamiliar with Chinese dining, then you need to know most of the food at dinner time will be family style.

Family style means when you order a plate of Sesame Chicken, you will get a plate of just Sesame Chicken and plenty of it. For that reason, it is best to come with 3 to 4 people and order several plates of food with an additional plate of fried rice everyone to share.

Typically, my favorite thing on the menu is the Honey Walnut Shrimp. The shrimp are fried with a slight crisp and laid under a nice base of tangy and sweet honey walnut sauce. By far some of the best Chinese shrimp I have had anywhere. It never disappoints.

Lunch and Dinner

As I mentioned above, the dinner menu will be for more of a family style feel. Make sure everyone knows what is being ordered and agrees to share their food. You do not want to bring stingy people here who do not like to share.

Personally, I like this system better because you get to try different entrees and have a more immersive experience with the people around you. The family style is great for encouraging conversation, trying new things, and making people feel welcomed.

The lunch menu will have independent dishes with a small side of fried rice and a fried Chinese chicken wing. Lunch portions are usually perfect for a single person and come with a spring roll or cup of soup for appetizer. While my family loves the soups, I cannot tell you how amazing their spring rolls are. They are so good, I always order two.

Here are some of our favorites from the menu:

Appetizers

  • Spring Roll (my favorite)
  • Stuffed Lettuce
  • Crab Claw Stuffing
  • Stuffed Chinese Breadstick

Chef Specialties

  • Peking Duck
  • Bird Nest Shrimp or Scallop
  • Tibet Chicken Hot Pot
  • Mint Leaves Triple Delight

Seafood

  • Shrimp Lobster Sauce
  • Black Pepper Shrimp
  • Mango Shrimp
  • Honey Walnut Shrimp
  • Szechuan Shrimp

Fried Rice

  • House Fried Rice
  • Lotus Leaf Fried Rice
  • Shrimp Fried Rice
  • Plain Egg Fried Rice

General Entrees

  • Mu Shu Chicken
  • Sweet and Sour Chicken
  • Mongolian Chicken
  • Sesame Beef
  • Tibet Beef
  • Szechuan Pork
  • House Lo Mein
  • Shrimp Egg Foo Young

Final Thoughts

To put it simply, Mah Jong restaurant in Snellville is one of the best options in Gwinnett to experience Chinese cuisine right outside of Atlanta. The authentic menu and warm environment will make eating here the highlight of your day.