Bill Kaelin: ‘Buckhead Betties’ and a new boyfriend

I used to always say that I could see myself staying with someone forever as long as he had his apartment on 10th Street and I had mine on 14th Street. I liked the idea of having separate spaces even if it was only four blocks away.

When my boyfriend was looking for a new apartment, we both realized this plan would no longer work for us. We would need more than a few blocks to separate us, or else we would be shacking up on a nightly basis. In other words, if he moved to Midtown we might as well move in together.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in the interest of taking our time, we decided that it would be best for him to find an apartment in another neighborhood. Buckhead was the perfect choice because it was just far enough to keep us calm with our new relationship and carry on.
We recently found out that Buckhead is a completely different world from Midtown when we walked up Peachtree hand-in-hand on a Friday night with no set plans, wondering if the “Buckhead Betties” would welcome us with open arms.

First of all, it’s amazing how different our city looks when you get out of your car and simply walk. The Buckhead streets feel like a metropolis with bustling traffic, new towering high-rise apartments, hip restaurants and bars, while the sidewalks on Peachtree pass interesting landscapes, including bridges that cross railroad tracks, trains and streaming creeks. We were definitely not in Midtown anymore.

On our adventure my boyfriend noticed a place he had heard about numerous times called the Georgia Grille, located in the awkward Peachtree Square Shopping Center. We decided to investigate what looked like a lifeless spot attached to an Office Depot and were immediately transported to another world.

A bouncy woman named Beth greeted us, saying she was “the only girl server in the joint and that all the other waiters were really cute boys however she was the best.” She promptly sat us next to a table full of gays, making us feel right at home, and when I told her I had lived in Atlanta for 20 years but had never heard of this place she simply replied, “Then you didn’t know the right people.”

Beth continued to school us, explaining that the Georgia Grille had been around for 25 years. It isn’t named after the state, but rather the artist Georgia O’Keefe, and is inspired by the food of the Southwest. She explained that all newbies had to try the legendary Lobster Enchiladas and Chile Relleno. Since my boyfriend and I love a woman in control we happily obliged.

The Chile Relleno was a saucy, golden, cheesy masterpiece that melted in our mouths and the Lobster Enchilada was like nothing we had ever tasted, with massive chunks of lobster tail in every bite. Beth checked on us midway through delivering two more margaritas that we didn’t ask for but happily accepted and spoke for us since our mouths were full: “It’s sick right?” We re- plied with a smiling: Mmmmmhmmm.

I asked Beth some more questions about this hidden gem of a restaurant, owned by Chef Karen Hilliard, explaining I wrote for a gay publication. She smiled, saying, “The Georgia Grille is a place that you only know about if someone tells you.” She then put her hand on my shoulder with a squeeze and said, “That being said, bring on the boys, honey.”

Feeling like we were on vacation in another city, my boyfriend and I walked home gushing over how you can find acceptance and love almost anywhere in Atlanta, not just in Midtown. We were falling in love with our second home and wondered if we could stay together forever, having the best of both worlds with one home in Midtown and the other just a few short miles north in our new gayborhood called Buckhead.