As a young adult, my two favorite Atlanta bars were the County Cork Pub and Churchill Arms. Both were located in Buckhead, and were actually across the street from each other. But they were very different watering holes.
The County Cork was a loud, rambunctious Irish bar, with college students packed in like sardines. The Cork served cold Guinness and had a self-service popcorn machine that popped up all the free popcorn you could stuff in your mouth. On weekends the bar usually had an actual Irish musician on stage, singing drinking songs from the British Isles, tunes so ribald that soldiers and sailors would blush when they heard them.
The Churchill Arms, on the other hand, was much more sedate. When I hung out there in the early to mid 90s, the average patron was probably in his late 40s. There were singalongs of old British songs on Friday nights, but other than that, there was no music in the pub… just older people talking, drinking and smoking, or perhaps playing darts. In the winter months, it gave me great pleasure to sit on the raggedy leather sofa by a roaring fire, drinking ale and smoking cigars.
But all things change. The County Cork lost their lease, moved to a different location, and eventually went under by trying to appeal to a more “upscale” crowd. The older couple who owned Churchill Arms gave it to their children, who took over the empty space next door and added pool tables and loud music, turning it into a frat bar.
So you can imagine my joy when I found this clip on YouTube. It’s from a 1985 North DeKalb Community Television (public access) show called Club Scene, with host Brian Smith. Smith says that the show is dedicated to showing people Atlanta’s other bars, “places you might have never noticed”. And one of the clips is about Churchill Arms!
Have a look:
Wow! What a fun (yet cheesy) trip in the Wayback Machine! I never knew the Churchill Arms was modeled after a genuine English pub, and it’s cool that the original is still in business!
I never saw the barbershop quartet at Churchill Arms, but I remember the lady playing the piano… although the lady I remember was English, and I always thought it was the owner’s wife. Speaking of, I remember owner Arthur Mitchell as an older man with grey hair… and I’ll never forget the St. Patricks’ Day when he gave me an armload of free St. Pat’s swag. I had partied hardy at the County Cork for a few hours and went to Churchill Arms to escape the mob and cool down. The Arms’ clientele wasn’t one for wearing Bushmill’s buttons, Harp Lager beads or giant foam Guinness hats, so Mr. Mitchell loaded me up with all the free stuff I could carry! Good times, good times!
And man alive… was Brian Smith a total hipster or what? I bet chicks totally dug that guy! And yes, I’m kidding, folks.
There’s another clip of Club Scene visiting the legendary Stein Club; check it out after the jump!
Club Scene at the Stein Club: