There was no doubt that Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse would stay open over the snow storm that has practically crippled the city for two days.
The gay favorite spot was open on Monday and broke all kinds of records, said store owner Philip Rafshoon. It seems the snow and ice-covered roads didn’t keep many people from staying out of Midtown and enjoying a completely white Piedmont Park where sledders were playing all day.
“It was our biggest snow day ever,” Rafshoon said Tuesday afternoon while taking a brief break. And thanks to the people enjoying Piedmont Park’s rare beauty while and then later seeking some coffee and food, finding Outwrite open was an excellent treat.
“We had such a rush” of people from the park, Rafshoon said. “It was just packed. We love being here for our customers and we welcomed new people.”
Rafshoon said his store was able to remain open because many employees work within walking distance of the bookstore that also sells sandwiches, snacks and plenty of hot coffee drinks. “But we’re gay — we’re more dedicated,” Rafshoon said, smiling.
On Tuesday, numerous people were in the store on their laptops, sipping coffee and eating lunches. Around the corner, Blake’s on the Park was also open with the downstairs section perhaps half full of friends sharing cocktails. Midtown Market, where Outwrite was getting much of its supplies (such as milk), was also open and just got a new delivery of milk Tuesday with several gallons available — an unusual sight in Atlanta these past couple days. Several people stood outside the Flying Biscuit waiting to eat. The gayest corner in Atlanta was filled with genuinely happy people still giddy with all the snow.
Inside Outwrite, Steven Berger and his partner, Reed Bond, were on their laptops. Berger was working on his book, “Raised by White Trash,” while Bond was working at his work as an illustrator.
“We were tired of sitting in the house,” Berger said of why the braved the cold to visit the business.
“We saw on Facebook [Outwrite] was open and so we came here. We didn’t want to risk going somewhere else and it being closed,” Berger said.
Berger and Bond, who moved to Atlanta in June, walked to Outwrite from their home near the Fox Theatre to escape cabin fever.
“I’m from Florida and I saw the snow in Atlanta on Christmas but this is my first real big snow,” Bond said. “It still has that magic for me.”
For lesbian Baila Herzberg, 28, a third year law student at John Marshall Law School, getting out of her home was imperative so she could study for the GRE, she said.
She took MARTA (just the train, buses were canceled) from the Lenox Mall area to Midtown and settled at Outwrite.
A New York native, Herzberg had plenty of criticism for how Atlanta was handling the snow, such as clearing roads and how the city itself was essentially closed.
“I think this is absurd,” she said. “They only have eight (sand) trucks in Georgia? The streets are covered in ice and it’s dangerous.”
As she spoke, one of those sand truck drove past Outwrite, spraying small pebbles onto the store’s large windows and making a thundering sound.
Gathering at one table was Gus Kaufman, Alex Comming and Floyd Taylor, veteran LGBT Atlanta activists.
“Well, I think we probably got stir crazy and had to get out,” Kaufman said. “And I appreciate the Flying Biscuit and Outwrite for being open.”
Taylor said he was being the designated driver for friends who were headed over to Blake’s to have a few drinks.
“I’m taking my buddies to Blake’s,” he said. “And I love this place [Outwrite]. This is always a happy place, the happiest place in town.”
Ah, yes. And we all know happy means gay.
Check out a few photos from Outwrite and Midtown on Jan. 11 by clicking here.
Top photo: Philip Rafshoon (right) and employees of Outwrite Bookstore and Coffeehouse offer a warm welcome during Atlanta’s snow storm. (By Dyana Bagby)