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Peachtree Corners Businesses Reopen with Health and Safety Precautions



Lea Harwell, owner of Beautiful Lea, practices safety measures while washing Kaitlyn Rabitsch's hair. Kaitlyn’s mom, Brigette Rabitsch, was one of Lea's first clients at the salon.

Though the current pandemic situation has hit us all hard in innumerable ways, perhaps some of us the most affected them are local Peachtree Corner business owners. But when the going gets tough, the tough get going! Here’s how our favorite local places have made the most of unprecedented times, squeezing life’s lemons for all the juice they’re worth.

Beautiful Lea and My Salon Suite Peachtree Corners — Hairstylist, Beauty Salon Suites

If you’ve seen a loved one give themselves a quarantine haircut gone wrong, then you have a newfound appreciation for your hairstylist. Lea Harwell of Beautiful Lea reopened her salon suite for business on March 24, along with several other beauty professionals that rent space in My Salon Suite Peachtree Corners.

Twenty-one beauty professionals work in the building, though not all reopened right away. Appointment times are scattered for safety; visitors also answer a health questionnaire and usually submit to a temperature check.

The State Board of Cosmetology already has high sanitation standards, but in addition, extra time is allotted between appointments to clean and properly disinfect surfaces. Harwell rearranged her limited space to reduce close contact, but even so she has to work twice as hard to see about half the normal daily clientele. Despite these challenges, she serves with a radiant smile behind that surgical mask.

“I’m not sure about the phrase ‘new normal’ but I consider this time a transition back to a more normal life and business environment. Getting back in the salon and helping my clients feel cared for is the part that makes me feel more normal,” Harwell said.

One huge help to Harwell and other small business owners that share My Salon Suite Peachtree Corners was the honorable decision of owners Tim and Marty Commons to waive all rent fees. The waiver includes the four weeks of the stay at home order, as well as the first two weeks that suite renters were permitted to reopen. This grace period comes out the goodness of the Commons’ hearts and their own pockets. Acts of kindness like this are commendable and show the strength of character on display in Peachtree Corners.

Innovative Smiles at the Forum

It may not seem like we have a lot to smile about right now, but our local dentists are making sure we keep our smiles healthy anyway. As an essential business, Innovative Smiles at the Forum has been open for emergency patients and essential doctor treatment. They remained emergency only through the month of May, but are open for routine dental practice starting the first week of June.

To stay afloat, support team employees had to be furloughed in March until recent weeks. It took a while for Innovative Smiles to receive federal assistance from the Paycheck Protection Program, but once the application went through on May 20, it allowed team members to come back to work.

All dentistry professionals must wear disposable gowns, a minimum Level 3 mask, and face shields while assisting patients. “With dentistry, we have always dealt with infections, bacterial or viral infections. So we have always had to use PPE, but we just have to take it to another level now,” Dr. Phillip Talley said.

To avoid patient backup, patients must call in to inform of their arrival and await confirmation by call or text before they can enter their designated suite. All patients must complete a health questionnaire prior to their appointment and submit to a touchless thermometer reading before entry. Non-contact payment is available online as well.

To keep the community safe, the patient volume will naturally have to decrease. So, patients, please be patient as you book your next cleaning.

Spalding Animal Hospital

Veterinary medicine falls under the category of essential service, so Spalding Animal Hospital has remained open throughout this tumultuous time. Yet the manner our furry friends receive vital care has gone through some major changes.

Ideally, it works best to have families in the exam room for the comfort of owner and patient, but prolonged exposure to others in an enclosed space isn’t wise. To accommodate this issue, curbside carpool service allows veterinary assistants to meet owners outside and then escort pets into the building.

Spalding Animal Hospital has a very adaptable approach, doing whatever they can safely do to make all their customers (human and animal) comfortable. For an anxious pet, a special visit in the outdoor play yards with their families may be necessary. If families insist on seeing the examination, the service can be performed in full view through the floor-to-ceiling windows. And to make pet care even easier, Spalding Animal Hospital offers free home deliveries of patient medications and prescription diets to all Peachtree Corners families.

“Many families are enjoying more time at home with pets as they juggle working from home and supervising school activities for their children. Having enjoyed months at home with their entire family, pets should slowly become acclimated to spending some time without their family members,” Dr. Paola Steyling, DVM said.

Stay tuned to Spalding Animal Hospital’s Facebook and Instagram Pages for advice on how to prepare your pets for the transition to a more regular schedule.

Anderby Brewing —Craft Spirits

Anderby Brewing

The lively, vivacious social scene that is Anderby Brewing is still on tap, but it has had to slow to a trickle in recent months. The taproom and patio seating had been closed to guests since March 17, but reopened on May 22.

In the interim, the brewery has kept up the to-go sales of crowlers (32-oz. cans filled on demand with Anderby’s propriety draft lines) and refilling growlers (32-oz. or 64-oz. containers made of glass, steel or ceramic), as well as a small bottling operation. About 7,500 bottles of beer flowed to keep Anderby Brewing afloat in the past six weeks, and now it’s time to get back to what they do best: serving delicious craft beer.

“Visiting a brewery is a very social experience. Patrons want to interact with each other, as well with our team, during their visit, so making the decision to reopen was not taken lightly,” Preston Smelt, President of Anderby Brewing, said.

Though the facility has always had high sanitation standards, extra precautions have been taken to protect employees and visitors.

“Staff will wear masks during their shift and gloves when filling crowlers. We have added hand sanitizers and have started laminating menus for easy cleaning. We reduced the seating capacity of both the taproom and patio to allow for proper social distancing,” Smelt said.

Noble Fin — Fine Dining

In front of Noble Fin are a dozen picnic tables for outdoor eating.

For a night out to remember, you can’t go wrong with Noble Fin. Noble Fin reopened on May 22 with a limited all-day menu consisting of delectable small plates and salads, as well as gourmet seafood and steak entrees.

Outdoor picnic and patio tables make up the bulk of the seating. A walk-up ordering system is in place, approaching the server to order instead of traditional service. Limited indoor seating is
also an option.

For those that prefer to take their food with them, To-Go and curbside ordering remain an option. Please allow 45 minutes after calling for your food to be ready, and call in to inform the hosts of your arrival. The number for to-go ordering is 770-599-7979

Taqueria Del Mar — Mexican Cuisine

This fast, casual Mexican restaurant has been super creative about how to serve their loyal customers during these crazy times. For to-go options, Take and Bakes have been a staple of the new menu, featuring family-size delights like the Philly Cheesesteak Casserole and Cheesy Sloppy Beefaroni.

The dining room reopened to limited dine-in service on May 22, with traditional tableside ordering as well as contactless ordering in their free app. Tips to download the app on Apple or Android phones are listed on front page of their website.

As an added way to help struggling families, Taqueria Del Mar created the “Pay What You Can” program. Owner Andrew Hoppen wanted to make sure that anyone who needed a full meal could come in and get one by “paying what they can.” According to a posting on their Facebook page, over 300 people have been fed through this program since the first week of March. Patrons who can afford to “Pay it Forward” to offset these costs are encouraged to do so through Taqueria Del Mar’s mobile app menu. Thanks, Taqueria Del Mar, for showing us that kindness is cool! ■

Links to Businesses Mentioned in the story:
Beautiful Lea facebook.com/LeaYourHairSalon
My Salon Suite mysalonsuite.com/peachtree-corners
Innovative Smiles gwinnettdentist.com/wp3/
Spalding Animal Hospital spaldinganimalhospital.com
Anderby Brewing anderbybrewing.com
Noble Fin noblefinrestaurant.com
Taqueria Del Mar taqueriadelmar.com

Kelsey Asher is a proud graduate of the University of West Georgia with a Bachelor’s in Communications. She has held a variety of marketing leadership roles for several small, startup companies in a variety of industries including publishing, construction and technology.

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3 Upcoming Curiosity Lab Events



Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners is a publicly funded living lab designed to provide a real-world test environment to advance next-generation intelligent mobility and smart city technology. Experience the innovation for yourself at one or more of these upcoming events.

Smart Mobility

June 25 – 12:00-1:30 PM EST – Fun, interactive event designed to bring founders and corporate leaders in Smart City, IoT and Mobility together with civic leaders for a “dinner table” style small discussion.  https://tinyurl.com/CIVICCL

Cybersecurity and Smart Cities

 June 30 – 12:00-1:00 PM EST – Cynamics.AI is a Curiosity Lab member and expert in cybersecurity.  They will walk us through trends, including what’s happening in the era of COVID19, and strategies for founders in Smart City, IoT or Mobility or civic leaders. https://tinyurl.com/CynamicsCL

Women Who Code

July 7th – 6:00-8:00PM EST – Women Who Code Atlanta (WWCA) has 4,000+ members. Curiosity Lab will partner with WWCA for an evening to help founders seeking talent pair with experienced technologists specifically interested in startups. https://tinyurl.com/WWCACL

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Buff City Soap Opens Second Georgia Store in Peachtree Corners



Peachtree Corners is getting its own Soap Makery. Buff City Soap — the brand known for its fresh, handcrafted soaps made daily in-store by local Makers — opened its second Georgia store, just weeks after opening its first. The new store opened in Peachtree Corners on May 2.

Each Buff City Soap store offers more than 25 unique and customizable scents across dozens of handcrafted soap products, including its famous soap bars, bath bombs, foaming hand soap and even laundry soap.

The new shop is owned and operated by husband-and-wife duo Matt and Leslie Taylor.
Previously, Matt served with the Memphis Fire Department for nine years. During his time at the Fire Department Academy, he met Brad Kellum, the co-founder of Buff City Soap.

Once Brad started Buff City Soap, Matt began using the products and fell in love with them. Matt currently serves as a Lieutenant at the Atoka Fire Department just outside Memphis. No stranger to serving the public herself, Leslie has spent the last 13 years as a pediatric nurse at a local hospital.

“After watching Buff City Soap grow from the ground up and being faithful customers for the last seven years, we knew it was time to get involved with the brand,” said Leslie. “We cannot wait to help grow Buff City Soap’s presence in Georgia, and we are confident that the Peachtree Corners community will absolutely love our array of assorted handcrafted products.”

Buff City Soap recently created a new soap called “Birthday Song,” which gets its name from the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendation of singing the “Happy Birthday Song” to yourself twice while washing your hands with warm water to safely clean your hands. For each bar of Birthday Song Soap that is sold, Buff City Soap is donating $1 to local and national COVID-19 relief efforts.

Due to the pandemic, the store is ensuring that it has products available for the community, so the new location is offering curbside pickup and online ordering, with transition to the in-store experience as it is deemed safe in order to maintain the health and welfare of the staff and customers.

Buff City Soap is located at 5215 Town Center Blvd, Suite 670 in Peachtree Corners; 678-381-9964; buffcitysoap.com. ■

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The Legendary History of Peachtree Corners’ Technology Park



Technology Park changed the face of Peachtree Corners forever. Thanks to a few key people who dedicated their lives to science, Peachtree Corners has become a technology hub that the rest of the country can look to for ideas and innovation. Residents are familiar with the person who started it all, they see his name on bridges and schools; Paul Duke is known as the “Father of Peachtree Corners.”

Paul Duke’s Mission
Back in the 60s, Paul Duke was on a mission to create a stable environment that would keep
Georgia Tech graduates in the state of Georgia. And because of the influx of technology jobs to the area, “Tech Park” ended up being the catalyst that put Peachtree Corners on the map.

Paul Duke

Duke modeled the idea after the “Technology Triangle” in North Carolina, but he knew that if they wanted to fill up these corporate buildings with engineers and scientists, they had to also build a desirable place for their families to live. So, as a member of the Georgia Tech National Advisory board at the time, Duke managed to raise $1.7 million for his vision.

“Paul was a dynamic and forward-thinking individual,” Jim Gaffney recalled. “He was a visionary who wasn’t any sort of braggadocio, he just wanted to produce good work.” The late Terry Gaffney, who was a secretary to Paul Duke, described him as being a “quiet-spoken” man who worked hard behind the scenes and didn’t seek to find praise for his efforts. Like Walt and his “Carousel of Progress,” Paul Duke went forward into the unknown with nothing but his dreams for the future.

Technology Park and Early Communities
By the late 1960s and into the 70s, most of the major cities were dealing with riots and turmoil while Atlanta was booming. Technology Park, just outside of Atlanta, was thriving too and already housed big names such as Scientific Atlanta, GE and Hayes Micro-computer systems. In fact, the world owes a tip of the cap to Technology Park for the creation of the modem, which was developed right here by Dale Heatherington and Georgia Tech alum, Dennis Hayes.

The Technology Park side of the “Live and Work” idea was headed by another Georgia Tech alumni, Charles Brown. Together they managed the creation of Technology Park and turned the idea of Peachtree Corners from nothing but a whisper into a reality. “Peachtree Corners Inc.” was not only the name of the development corporation created by Paul Duke himself, but it was quickly becoming a household name as well.

The arrival of the 70s meant phase two of Paul Duke’s plan, which was creating a community desirable enough for the families of these great minds to live. Developer Jim Cowart broke ground on the first communities that would later be the modern-day Peachtree Corners; the North Manor, Peachtree Station, Revington, Lynnfield, Riverfield and Amberfield neighborhoods. The area was quickly becoming an attraction for young families and young tech companies alike.

About a decade later, Jim Gaffney successfully blocked the “East Jones Bridge” widening project which would have cut the modern-day North Manor community in half. As you may know from a previous Peachtree Corners Magazine article featuring North Manor, that area is now a thriving community. But what you probably didn’t know is that the same Charles Brown who helped build Technology Park was also one of the key individuals who helped Jim thwart those plans.

A Move for City Independence
By the late 90s, Technology Park’s appeal caught the eye of the City of Norcross, and the city began making moves to acquire it for their own. They tried and failed many times to annex Technology Park right up to route 141, which would have cut the modern-day Peachtree Corners in half.

By the 2010s, all around there were whispers in the air of incorporating Peachtree Corners into a city. Norcross made one final attempt to annex Technology Park and that ended up being the final push that the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA) needed to protect its technology jewel. By 2011, Peachtree Corners not only became a city, but it was the largest city in Gwinnett County.

Over the years, Georgia Tech’s relationship with Technology Park began to wane. The economic recession through the 80s and the subsequent housing crisis in 2008 had dulled the shiny new penny that once was the innovative technology city. So the new Mayor, Mike Mason, along with the new city of Peachtree Corners, looked for a clever way to bring back its luster.

The Seeds of Curiosity Lab
That was where the idea of an incubator hub was first conceptualized: a place where Georgia Tech would attract big name companies to come and research, mentor Georgia Tech students and develop new technologies. The name at the time was the “Prototype Prime Incubator Hub,” which is now a part of what you may know as Curiosity Lab. And who better than to develop such a revolutionary idea, than the man behind “Technology Square” in downtown Atlanta, Wayne Hodges.

Hodges is not only the Vice-President Emeritus for Georgia Tech, but he was also the founder of the very first Technology Incubator in the country back in the 1980s. The Advanced Technology Development Center (ATDC) helped over 120 startup companies in the state of Georgia by developing their technologies and bringing them out of the garage phase. Hodges was serving as the president of the Georgia Advanced Technology Ventures (GATV) when they developed Technology Square in Midtown Atlanta.

Lovingly nicknamed “Tech Square” by the Georgia Tech students and faculty, it expanded the confines of Georgia Tech Campus across the highway and built a strong relationship between the University and big-name tech companies. Tech Square changed the face of Midtown Atlanta, not only making it a safer neighborhood, but also attracting tech giants to the area, exactly the kind of impact Peachtree Corners was looking for.

After his “semi-retirement” in 2009, Hodges was working at The Pendleton Group for Peachtree Corners outreach and economic development. The city approached Wayne, along with City Manager Brian Johnson, to develop the incubator for Technology Park. The idea was that the City of Peachtree Corners would be heavily involved in the project. Throughout his more than 30 years of working with Georgia Tech, Hodges remembers being constantly questioned about why Georgia Tech was not more involved in Peachtree Corners, and now this was his chance to change that.

The Lab and Park Blossom
Curiosity Lab was created in 2017, and in just a few short years, Technology Park zoomed to the forefront as a beacon of technology innovation. Now, Georgia Tech students can take classes there. There are also as STEM programs for the school fondly named after Paul Duke himself. Startups and major tech companies alike flock to Peachtree Corners to perform testing and research. Hodges remarked that he is just happy to be part of it.

“I love working with people who are willing to step up and get things done,” Hodges said.
Johnson and Hodges are excited about a number of new innovations that are the first of their kind in the country and, in some cases, the world, including:

■ A 1.5-mile test track for autonomous vehicles
■ The first driverless shuttle deployment on a city street
■ The first 5G deployment in Metro Atlanta available for testing
The first tele-operated E-Scooters which you can call from an app and they drive autonomously to your location
■ The first “living” laboratory

World’s first e-scooters

In fact, Peachtree Corners now has the first city roads ever to be insured for autonomous vehicles. Aside from the technologies that sound like they came out of a science fiction novel, the Curiosity Lab incubator now hosts about 15 new startup companies and counting. Once again, Technology Park has a thriving relationship with Georgia Tech and is paving the way for a new age of technology production all around the world.

But the bond between Technology Park and Peachtree Corners is far more impactful than most residents might know because the city might never have existed without those special people who were willing to step up and get it done.

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