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The city of Atlanta, known affectionately as the "Big Peach," is a mecca for black entrepreneurs, scholars and business professionals. It’s also home to the biannual National Black Arts Festival scheduled for July 1998, the King Center for Non-Violent Social Change and the largest consortium of historically black colleges in the U.S.
Sweet Auburn, the historic downtown neighborhood that was the cornerstone of African American commerce and culture in Atlanta during the ’50s end ’60s, is again enjoying prosperity. Locals and visitors alike flock to the African-American Panoramic Experience Museum (APEX) (135 Auburn Ave.; 404-521-2739), which focuses on the city’s black history and art; the birthplace of Martin Luther King Jr. (501 Auburn Ave.); Ebenezer Baptist Church (401 Auburn Ave.); and the King Center (449 Auburn Ave.). Also located on the famous street is the Caribbean Restaurant (180 Auburn Ave.; 404-658-9829), which attracts a business crowd for power lunches and dinners of curried goat, brown- stewed red snapper, sorrel and other tropical specialties. There’s also the Beautiful Restaurant (397 Auburn Ave.; 404-223-0080), which serves up down-home Southern faves like catfish and barbecue beef ribs.
Also in the area is Gallery Abayoni (186 Auburn Ave.; 404- 581-1003), which specializes in African artifacts and original works. Other well- loved art galleries around town include William Tolliver Art Gallery (2300 Peachtree Rd.,404-350-0811), which offers the painter’s originals and prints, and Camille Love Gallery (309 E. Paces Ferry Rd.; 404-841- 0446), which features original works of art by contemporary African American artists.
Two of the hottest new spots to hit Atlanta are Sylvia’s of Harlem (241 Central Ave.; 404-529-9692), featuring a time-tested soul food menu, and Gladys and Ron’s Chicken & Waffle Restaurant (618 Ponce de Leon Ave.; 404-874-9393). Owned by songbird Gladys Knight and gospel singer Ron Winans, this trendy new restaurant is making a niche for itself with nouvelle soul cuisine offerings such as fried chicken and waffles and sweet potato cheesecake with old-time favorites. Open until 4 a.m. on weekends, the sit-down restaurant caters to crowds from nearby dance clubs like Atlanta Live (3330 Piedmont Rd.; 404-869-0003) in Buckhead and Club E. S. S. O. (489 Courtland Ave.; 404-872-3776) downtown. Famous faces have also been spotted hanging out at the bar or performing at The Industry (1789 Cheshire Bridge Rd.; 404-817-3722), owned by pop crooner Keith Sweat.
Atlanta boasts many jazz and blues clubs about the city, including Yin Yang Cafe (64 Third St. NE; 404-607-0682). Call the city’s arts hotline at 404-853-3278 or pick up a copy of Strictly Jazz, an African American- owned magazine devoted to America’s classical music. Over the airwaves, listen to WVEE 103 for urban contemporary music and WALR 104.7 for 24- hour jazz.
Across town is the Atlanta University Center, featuring the historically black colleges Spelman, Morehouse, Clark Atlanta and Morris Brown. The city’s African American "old guard" (the mayor and other politicians) still gathers for lunch, dinner and networking at Paschal’s Center (830 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. SW; 404-577-3150), one of Atlanta’s