At­lanta les­bian party pro­mot­ers help re­vive Sweet Auburn

Soul Bar at Pal’s Lounge the new­est ven­ture for Traxx Girls, Blue Di­a­mond En­ter­tain­ment founders

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At­lanta’s Sweet Auburn His­toric Dis­trict has seen bet­ter days. It was wal­loped by the 2008 tor­nado, suf­fered sig­nif­i­cantly dur­ing the re­ces­sion, and a year-and-a-half de­lay on con­struc­tion of the At­lanta Street­car left parts of the area a mess as busi­nesses took the hit. But it’s making a come­back, thanks in part to two les­bian party pro­mot­ers.

Melissa Scott, founder of Traxx Girls, and CJ Jones of Blue Di­a­mond En­ter­tain­ment have part­nered up with Pal’s Lounge owner and lo­cal mu­si­cian Devon Wood­son to re­name and re­brand the long­time lounge and mu­sic venue as Soul Bar at Pal’s Lounge.

Soul Bar opened in Novem­ber, and the pro­pri­etors and staff are busy serv­ing up drinks, show­ing off their new menu, and giv­ing live mu­sic fans a place to call home. Ge­or­gia Voice sat down with Scott on a re­cent Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon at the re­booted venue as pic­tures of civil rights he­roes like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and Mal­colm X watch over us—we are on the street that Dr. King was born on, af­ter all.

Scott opens up about how the ven­ture came to fruition, fu­ture plans for the space and how this project af­fects her in­volve­ment in Black Gay Pride.

So Melissa, how did you get in­volved in the cre­ation of Soul Bar?

I knew I wanted to have a busi­ness on Auburn Av­enue in gen­eral. One of my good busi­ness part­ners, Peter Thomas [en­tre­pre­neur and hus­band of “Real House­wives of At­lanta” star Cyn­thia Bai­ley], used to own Bar One and he moved his busi­ness across the street. I wanted to be around him. He brings a good en­ergy wher­ever he is.

De­cem­ber 11, 2015

“Dif­fer­ent things can com­pen­sate for other things I do with my busi­ness life. Ev­ery­thing I do in my life kind of ties to­gether and comes full cir­cle at some point. [Soul Bar] just makes sense.”

—Soul Bar at Pal’s Lounge

co-owner Melissa Scott

How much about the venue did you change as it mor­phed into Soul Bar?

It’s like a 2030 Pal’s [laughs]. But it still has the soul of the old Pal’s Lounge. It’s new, it’s trendy, but it’s old and fly still. It’s the same space, just pol­ished over. We kept the orig­i­nal bar, added some hash­tags [that cover a panel of the wall next to the bar], we did some dif­fer­ent tex­tures.

The main thing is the food. The last two weeks we’ve been fo­cus­ing on get­ting the food to taste right and taste con­sis­tent no mat­ter who the chef is. We worked with Natasha Wong who was the head chef over at Bar One. She con­sulted here and helped us get it in a struc­ture that made sense for the busi­ness.

We also need some­where to take our girls on Sun­days. Our busi­ness part­ner Devon needs some­where for his band [Royal] to play. We have a ton of DJ friends that just want to play. We’ve got the hookah here so you can come and chill.

The out­door pa­tio is huge. What’s the ETA on that be­ing ready?

That’s a sum­mer­time venue. I have two com­pletely dif­fer­ent vi­sions for it. I have it where it’s definitely over­flow for this space and where it’s definitely a per­for­mance space.

But also, if it’s Mon­day at 11:30 p.m. in April and I choose to sit out­side, I sit out­side, maybe watch­ing the street­car. It should be trans­par­ent from the out­side to the in­side so you look in and it’s ca­banas and mar­garita ma­chines and um­brel­las and I’ll have the dog bowls out there and a bike rack out there. I Soul Bar at Pal’s Lounge co-own­ers CJ Jones and Melissa Scott opened the re­booted venue in Novem­ber. (Photo by Pa­trick Saunders)

In dif­fer­ent ca­pac­i­ties. Like, I own a night­club in Au­gusta, Ge­or­gia, but I don’t run it. This is the first one that my hands are com­pletely in that I’m run­ning.

And what’s that ex­pe­ri­ence been like?

I can’t sleep [laughs]. I’ll be tired and be like, ‘No! This needs to hap­pen now!’ It’s fun, it’s a good time wak­ing up.

Do you still plan on be­ing as big a part of Black Gay Pride?

Yeah! Here’s the thing. All year, when we’re meet­ing up at dif­fer­ent places to talk about [Black Gay Pride], we can meet here as a cen­tral lo­ca­tion. If we need food catered, I’m ca­ter­ing food here now.

I used to rent party buses from peo­ple all over the place and I added up what I was spend­ing on them, so I went and bought a party bus com­pany. Dif­fer­ent things can com­pen­sate for other things I do with my busi­ness life. Ev­ery­thing I do in my life kind of ties to­gether and comes full cir­cle at some point. [Soul Bar] just makes sense.

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