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Raise a Glass to Peachtree Corners’ Upscale Wine and Spirits Store



Clockwise, Gerald and Virginia Davidson, Pat and Stu Cross, Libby Curry, holding photo of John D. Curry (Photo by Patrizia Winsper.)Gerald and Virginia Davidson, Pat and Stu Cross, Libby Curry, holding photo of John D. Curry (Photo by Patrizia Winsper.)

Uncorking Corners Fine Wine and Spirits

Eight and a half years of tenacity and a tremendous effort on behalf of three established Peachtree Corners families resulted in the opening of Corners Fine Wine and Spirits (CFWS) at 5730 Peachtree Parkway – the only store of its kind in the city. It was the news of Peachtree Corners becoming an incorporated city in 2012 that sparked the initial idea since only cities can permit such retail spaces.

Corners Fine Wine & Spirits

The vision was one of a refined store where people could enjoy tastings of an impressive selection of products and be guided in their choices by a friendly, knowledgeable staff and an in-house sommelier. With the celebration of their first-year anniversary just behind them, it’s clear to see that although it wasn’t easy, the store has more than met the criteria.

(Photos by Patrizia Winsper, Left to Right. General Manager of Corners Fine Wine and Spirits, Rob Ramos. Gerald and Virginia Davidson. Libby Curry holding a photo of her late husband, John. John D. Curry dedication plaque. Stu and Pat Cross)

Proprietors Gerald and Virginia Davidson, John and Libby Curry, Stu and Pat Cross — long-time residents of Peachtree Corners, friends and neighbors, each with unique aptitudes —were instrumental in the realization of Virginia’s initial dream. With previous knowhow from having owned a store in Dawsonville, and the credit of having had the idea, the Davidsons hold controlling interest.

They invited the Currys to join their venture knowing their background in construction and marketing would prove invaluable. The Currys, in turn, offered the Crosses part of their share in 2019, in exchange for robust financial backing and years of business experience…and so the CFWS founders were born.

Liquor Is Not a “Bad Word”

Whether you enjoy alcoholic beverages or not, the fact remains that buying liquor in Peachtree Corners generates revenue for the city. “There are so many negative connotations associated with liquor stores. People picture icky, cheesy places. That was never what we wanted,” Virginia said. She pointed out that plenty of residents do enjoy adult beverages, and those who purchase liquor locally are supporting our community rather than taking tax dollars elsewhere.

Ribbon cutting celebration, among those pictured are Peachtree Corners Business Association President Lisa Proctor, Councilman Phil Sadd, Mayor Mike Mason, Gerald and Virginia Davidson, Libby Curry, Councilmen Weare Gratwick and Eric Christ, Stu and Pat Cross, Rob Ramos.

Yet before purchasing liquor in a Peachtree Corners package store even became an option, the assembled dream team had a long road ahead.

A Trek That Felt Like Eight Years in the Desert – Also Dave Phinney’s Zinfandel

Smudge on the Dotted Line

When attorney Gerald, former homebuilder John, and retired Coca-Cola executive Stu started out, they quickly realized they’d need every bit of their specialized skills, as well as their personal strengths and resources to get the job done. The first order of business was obtaining the signatures of 35% of the registered voters in the new city (approximately 7,500 people) on a petition requesting that the mayor and council call a referendum allowing citizens to vote on an ordinance to allow for the sale of distilled spirits by the package within the city of Peachtree Corners.

The interior of Corners Fine Wine and Spirits.

Gerald recalled, “We started naïvely thinking we could do it ourselves.” They offered voters Dunkin’ Donuts and coffee at polling stations around town during elections one year, collecting the signatures of registered voters going in and out. “It rained sideways — all day,” recalled Libby.

In 2013, Gerald formed a committee called Buy Peachtree Corners First. They sought support for their petition at the Peachtree Corners Festival encouraging residents to buy locally to keep revenue within our city.

Even with the help of high school students hired to gather signatures, they were about 4,500 short of their target. The decision to hire National Ballot Access resulted in a skilled army that yielded more signatures than needed.

Impossible Mission – the Real Kind, Not the Drink

With a list of collected names, addresses and signatures, verifying the registered voters in support of the liquor store involved matching each signature with those on people’s voter registration cards. How many of us sign our names exactly the way we did when we filled out our voter registration cards? How likely is a signature scrawled across a clipboard while standing in the elements to match a signature penned while sitting at a desk?

“We turned them in to the city, which did not have the personnel to count and cross-reference the signatures,” Gerald said. The county board of elections was charged with the task; temps were hired to help.

After a long wait, it was determined by the county board of elections that CFWS was 168 signatures short. Gerald arranged a meeting with the county attorneys in which National Ballot Access was able to prove there were surplus signatures.


With an adequate number of signatures confirmed, the Corners team was eager to hold a referendum, offering to pay for it themselves. The city council preferred to wait a few months for the 2014 general election in November. It passed with 74% voting in favor of distilled spirits being sold in Peachtree Corners package stores.

A New Ordinance to Regulate the Operation of Liquor Stores in a New City

Hoping to expedite the process, Gerald blazed a trail by studying the ordinances of surrounding cities in Gwinnett County and drafted a proposal, parts of which were adopted.

“Our original suggestion was not allowing a liquor store in a shopping center. Make it a freestanding building on a major thoroughfare, with at least 100 feet of road frontage. A minimum of 5,000 square feet and a maximum of 10,000 square feet in size,” Gerald said. “As a citizen, I didn’t want shabby little liquor stores with neon signs in the front windows cropping up in the city.”

Liquor stores in Peachtree Corners must be zoned C2, with a special use permit. There is a plethora of strict requirements that must be satisfied. “I remember John with measuring tape in hand because you cannot have the shop within a certain distance of a school or a church. That’s a state law: 300 yards door to door,” Virginia said. Distance requirements certainly limit the places one can consider for such a store.

Location Selection — Not a Game of Spin the Bottle

“John was familiar with every square inch of the city after having scouted locations,” Libby chuckled. The first location they considered is now Stäge Kitchen & Bar, formerly Noble Fin. Following numerous meetings and lease revisions prepared by Gerald, the property holder revealed an expectation of rent prior to occupancy, suspending discussions.

Next, they studied the lot between the former Black Walnut restaurant and Chase Bank. “We filed for rezoning and a special use permit on that property. We negotiated at length but couldn’t make the deal work. The landowner wanted to dictate the store’s appearance,” Gerald said.

Though the third time may have been the charm, their current site was not acquired without a hiccup. Initially under contract with Tech Park Associates, as was RaceTrac across the street, a thorny rezoning and development process coupled with ecological issues caused Tech Park to reconsider.

From Stumbling Blocks to Stepping Stones

CFWS was happy to donate towards the walking trail from their property through Tech Park to the lake, as a condition of rezoning. “It’s a wonderful amenity for the city,” Gerald said.

With a mountain to be leveled on the RaceTrac side, a gaping hole to be filled and a creek on the CFWS side, it was challenging and costly to develop the land. “We had to go through all kinds of environmental stuff to pipe the creek. That was a setback,” Gerald explained.

When Tech Park Associates determined the project was too prohibitive, the unrelenting CFWS crew approached RaceTrac. “You have deep pockets, you can do this,” Gerald recalled telling them. RaceTrac agreed to purchase both corners and sell them their plot at a higher price once they had developed it. The CFWS building pad was delivered a year later as promised.

After a little tango with bureaucracy, they obtained a liquor license from the state Capitol.

Surviving the Storm

Construction of the store began in December of 2019. It rained incessantly causing delays and disruptions.

A crushing setback was suffered in April of 2020 when they lost John suddenly to lung cancer. He was the boots on the ground, sweat equity partner. Left with a stack of his handwritten notes, CFWS credits Ordner Construction Company with helping them overcome this major hurdle. COVID-19 didn’t allow for a funeral but it did further compound lulls in building.

The Perfect Cocktail of People

General Manager Rob Ramos has 26 years of experience in the liquor industry. John recruited him six years ago. “I keep the original card he gave me in my wallet as a token of my appreciation. He shared the CFWS dream with me and stayed in touch all that time,” Ramos said.

“The beer and wine buyers, Sean Whalen and Terrell Abney are in tune with the palettes of our regulars,” Virginia said. Because they’re so knowledgeable, they’re given autonomy in their selections, provided they stay within budgetary parameters.

Ramos facilitated the store layout, the selection of software packages and refrigeration equipment. He hired staff and placed orders so they could hit the ground running. It’s been over a year since they opened and CFWS has retained most of its original employees. “We’re blessed to have such good people,” Virginia said.

Opening During a Pandemic

CFWS opened on August 26, 2020, in the midst of the pandemic. It was not ideal, but it did not stop people from wanting to imbibe. “COVID was actually, sadly, a good thing for the liquor business. Especially when we could start delivering,” Virginia shared.

There were merchandise shortages however. “It became a huge problem to get tequila because Mexico had shut down. It’s still a challenge,” Virginia said.

Ribbon Cutting

A ceremony the following month included the unveiling of a bronze plaque honoring John Curry who, unfortunately, was not able to share in the jubilation of that moment. Located on the building façade, it commemorates his tireless commitment to getting this venture off the ground. Patrons can read the touching tribute to the friend, husband and associate CFWS lost too soon.

Cheers to a Good Year!

The owners feel their concept has materialized perfectly with the first year of operation under their belts. Gerald appreciates the value in the extension of Engineering Drive. “It’s a great asset for the community, allowing for better ingress and egress for those who live here,” he said.

His dedication to serving the neighborhood he lives in is palpable. “Our pricing is very reasonable, even of our high-end bourbons. We don’t want to gauge people. These are our neighbors; we want them to be happy,” Gerald said. “We’ll call regulars to tell them when hard to find things we know they like come in.”

Virginia continues to boycott any tacky décor and create an elevated shopping experience for clients. “At the end of a very long road, it all paid off. The quote on the wall that makes the most sense for our journey, is “If you build it, they will come.” That’s what kept us going,” she said.

Libby enjoys answering store reviews on Google and helping to plan and participate in events. “I know John would be very proud of the store,” she said.

Stu joined the team later but rolled up his sleeves in full support of the mission. “Peachtree Corners deserves a store that has three things: a great location so you can get to it, the most amazing selection of products within 20 miles, and a friendly, customer-focused staff,” he said.

“They worked like crazy to make this happen. It’s another example of why Peachtree Corners is a very special place to live.”

Here’s to wishing CFWS many wonderful years of health and prosperity!

Patrizia hails from Toronto, Canada where she earned an Honors B.A. in French and Italian studies at York University, and a B.Ed. at the University of Toronto. This trilingual former French teacher has called Georgia home since 1998. She and her family have enjoyed living, working and playing in Peachtree Corners since 2013.

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VyStar Credit Union Continues Growth in Georgia with the Opening of a Peachtree Corners Branch



A grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for May 29, 2024

VyStar Credit Union has to announced that its Peachtree Corners location is now open at 5125 Peachtree Parkway in Peachtree Corners. This is VyStar’s fifth full-service branch in Metro Atlanta and joins branches in Stockbridge, Suwanee, Smyrna and Marietta.

In support of its purpose to “Do Good,” VyStar partners with non-profit organizations across the communities it serves. VyStar will make a $5,000 donation to the Rainbow Village to celebrate the grand opening of the Peachtree Corners branch at the ribbon cutting event in late May.

“VyStar’s first branch in Gwinnett will provide residents and business owners with better banking options, including free checking, access to early direct deposit, great rates, financial wellness education through VyStar’s Financial Fitness initiative, and unbelievable member-centric service that only a credit union can provide,” said VyStar EVP/Chief Operations Officer Chad Meadows.

The Peachtree Corners branch features VyStar’s digital-forward design, which enhances how employees connect with members. This includes interactive touchscreen kiosks that provide financial tools and allow members to quickly explore the latest products, services and rates. 

Lobby and drive-thru hours for the Peachtree Corners branch are Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

VyStar continues to work with local organizations to build up the communities it serves. In Metro Atlanta, that includes supporting the Atlanta Community Food Bank, Junior Achievement of Georgia, Frontline Housing Inc., H.E.R.O. For Children and many others.

“Each time VyStar opens a new branch, it is another opportunity for us to support our purpose to Do Good. With eight full-service branches now in Georgia and our first Contact Center in Metro Atlanta, VyStar is able to provide residents and area businesses with exceptional financial products along with personalized service,” said VyStar SVP/Georgia Market President Janean Armstrong.

VyStar has seven additional locations in Georgia: Marietta, Smyrna, Suwanee, Stockbridge, Brunswick, Savannah and Thomasville, with plans to open branches in Pooler, Kingsland and Peachtree City over the next year.

The credit union is also expanding its services in Florida with a third branch in Tallahassee scheduled to open in May followed by a branch opening in the Lake Nona area in August.

To celebrate the grand opening, the community is invited to a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 29, 2024, at 10:30 a.m. Learn more about the Peachtree Corners branch.

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Kendra Scott Opens New Store At The Forum



Kendra Scott

Kendra Scott is celebrating the opening of its newest store in Peachtree Corners the weekend of May 10 at The Forum.

Upon opening, the 2,263 square foot store will display Kendra Scott’s current collections. The store will also showcase the brand’s unique Color Bar, offering shoppers an interactive experience to create customized jewelry in minutes and leave with it in hand.

Worn by celebrities including Hailey Bieber, Camila Cabello, Mindy Kaling, Zendaya and Kelly Clarkson, Kendra Scott’s collections are known for their custom-created stone shapes, genuine materials and design details.

This will be Kendra Scott’s first store in Gwinnett County, which joins five other retail locations in Georgia.

The brand will continue to show its support for the community through partnerships with non-profits and local businesses. For the grand opening weekend, Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners will host various non-profits for Kendra Gives Back events, donating a percentage of proceeds directly back to the causes.

Kendra Scott hosts more than 10,000 Kendra Gives Back events in retail stores annually and looks forward to establishing relationships and connecting with the Gwinnett County community.

“We’re excited to continue introducing the community to new brands, bites and events at The Forum as part of our vision to create downtown Peachtree Corners. Kendra Scott will be a welcome addition, providing our guests a top-notch experience to shop its unique offerings in person,” said Charlotte Hinton, The Forum marketing manager.

Doors will open on Friday, May 10, at 10 a.m. with celebrations throughout the weekend, including giveback events, gifts with purchase and giveaways. RSVP for more details here.

Upcoming events:

  • Friday, May 10 from 10-12 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with The Forum for a VIP event. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special jewelry gift with purchase.* Guests will also enjoy refreshments from Giulia, The Italian Bakery.
  • Friday, May 10 from 5-7 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with the Norcross High School Cheer Team and donating 20% of proceeds. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase* Guests can also receive a custom embroidered bow from Quiet Hours Embroidery with purchase.
  • Saturday, May 11 from 4-6 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is partnering with Spectrum Autism Support Group and donating 20% of proceeds. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase.* Guests will also enjoy complimentary cotton candy from Wonder Soirée with every purchase.
  • Sunday, May 12 from 12-2 p.m. – Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is celebrating the Community of Motherhood. Supporters who spend $100 will receive a special gift with purchase.* Guests will also receive a complimentary Mother’s Day bouquet of flowers from Nancy’s Flower Truck.

*One per person while supplies last.

Kendra Scott Peachtree Corners is located at 5155 Peachtree Parkway, Suite 710 in Peachtree Corners at The Forum. For companywide updates and product details, follow @kendrascott on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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BRACK: Peachtree Corners to lose Peterbrooke Chocolatier



Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson.
Scottt Gottuso and Geoffrey Wilson. Photo provided.

Peachtree Corners will soon lose one of its most iconic, popular and tasty businesses.

Peterbrooke Chocolatier, run by Geoffrey Wilson and Scott Gottuso, has been told by Peachtree Forum landlords, North American Properties and Nuveen Real Estate, that its lease will not be renewed. The last day of business will be July 25.

Meanwhile, Peachtree Forum is getting several new stores. They include Kendra Scott, Sucre, and The NOW Massage. Previously announced were Alloy Personal Training, Cookie Fix, Gallery Anderson Smith, Giulia, Lovesac, Nando’s Peri-Peri and Stretchlab. Wilson adds: “We are not in their big picture.”

Wilson has operated Peterbrooke at the Peachtree Forum for 14 years and Gottuso has been there nine years. They have made the chocolatier profitable and doubled sales. Wilson says: “We turned it around through community involvement and made relationships. We worked with the schools, gave donations, did a lot in the community, and made a difference. We produce most everything we sell in the shop, so it’s labor intensive. We make European-style chocolate treats from scratch from the very best ingredients, package it, make gift baskets, and also sell a lot of gelato.”

Key items include truffles, hand-made caramels, cherry cordials, chocolate-covered cookies and pretzels and strawberries hand-dipped in their own blend of chocolates. (They are all good!) One of Wilson’s and Gottuso’s most iconic products is chocolate popcorn. Once you try it, regular popcorn is tasteless. “We sell a lot of it.” Wilson adds: “Gelato sales have carried us in the summertime, since there are not many chocolate holidays in the summer.”

Peterbrooke now has five employees, and would like to have 10, but it is difficult to hire people with the skills in chocolatiering. A key part of its business is corporate companies, such as Delta Air Lines and Capital Insight. The Peachtree Corners’ Peterbrooke has corporate customers as far away as Cleveland, Ohio.

The operators were surprised when the Forum owners did not renew its five year lease. “The big decisions were made in Charlotte or Cincinnati, not locally,” Wilson feels. “We were no longer in their big picture. They want new and glitzy, shiny, fancy and trendy.”

The operators plan to start their own chocolate company, to be called “Scoffrey,” and initially sell online, plus have pop-up locations during holidays, and possibly have a booth in other merchants’ stores on occasions.

“Whatever we do would look different. We might rent a space somewhere close by so that people can still have the good chocolate experience with us, but we won’t have a regular audience walking by.”

Another element: the price of chocolate futures has spiked this year, with a bad crop production year. Wilson says: “That is key to our business and a huge cost increase. That doesn’t help.”

Wilson adds that the forced closing of the Peterbrooke location “is something like the death of a friend. But you go to the funeral and to the wake, and in six months or a year, It won’t be so bad.”

Have a comment?  Send to: elliott@elliottbrack

Written by Elliott Brack

This material is presented with permission from Elliott Brack’s GwinnettForum, an online site published Tuesdays and Fridays. To become better informed about Gwinnett, subscribe (at no cost) at GwinnettForum

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