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The Karate Kids



Left to right, Brendan Dumont, Mitsuaki Uchida, Mitsunobu Uchida and Musashi Uchida

Photos by George Hunter

The students at Taido Karate Dojo in Peachtree Corners get to live every 80’s kid’s fantasy. They get to learn the patience and discipline of the ancient art of karate from a real-life Mr. Miyagi.

Ever since Mitsunobu Uchida was in grade school, he had a dream to one day move to America and teach karate. He knew that Americans loved organized sports, and karate not only gives you a great aerobic workout, but it also teaches you discipline unlike any other.

His father told him that he should move to Georgia, because the climate there is very similar to the one in Japan. So, in 1970, Mitsunobu moved to America to attend college in Nebraska, and eventually settled in Georgia — the land of “Gone with the Wind.”

Mitsunobu fulfilled his lifelong dream in 1975 by opening his first dojo in Doraville, Ga. Then in 1986, the dojo moved its location to Peachtree Corners, where today it stands on Spalding Drive as the most popular dojo in the Atlanta area.

Over 40 years later, two of his sons now help him run Taido Karate, bringing the words “family business” to a whole new level. Mitsunobu still serves as the Grand Master, with his son Mitsuaki as the General Manager, and his other son, Musashi, as the Assistant Manager. Not to mention Brendan Dumont, a 5th-degree black belt who has been the Head Instructor at Taido for so long that he feels like family.

Family extends into community

The Uchida family growing up in Peachtree Corners was not only a great influence on the community, but it made for an interesting childhood worthy of any box office screen. Mitsunobu never taught anyone to wax on, wax off, but he was once quoted saying “it’s raining dogs and cats outside.”

Taido Karate students with their teachers

And did we mention that all of his four sons are black belts? The boys each attended Pickneyville Norcross High School where his son Mitsuaki has fond memories of being able to show off his gymnastic skills in front of the cheerleaders. “We would walk into the gymnasium where they were holding practice, and just bust out a roundoff,” he said. “They would be so impressed, and that’s when we would tell them that so much of karate is similar to gymnastics.”

Taido Karate now boasts three generations of students. There are those who learned under the tutelage of Mitsuaki’s grandfather, then his father, Grandmaster Mitsunobu — and now even Mitsuaki is teaching the children or grandchildren of those same students!

The dojo has truly become a pillar in the community of Peachtree Corners, and they say that their favorite part about America is how diverse and wonderful the people are, especially the city of Peachtree Corners. “I think people feel comfortable with being a part of something run by an interracial family [half Japanese, half American],” Mitsuaki said. “We never pushed to be diverse because we never needed to.”

Now Mitsuaki notices whenever there is a Muslim or Jewish holiday, because large chunks of the class will suddenly be missing. Taido is truly a melting pot of the American dream, where all races and nationalities can come together and learn all the fulfillment that karate can give. He jokes that there was a surge in students after the famous 1984 flick, but the biggest drop in attendance they have seen was during the pandemic.

Meeting the pandemic head-on

Before COVID-19, Taido Karate had over 400 students in attendance; within a few weeks, that number dropped to zero. So, with some quick thinking, they switched the entire program to 100% online Zoom classes for April and May of 2020. “We received an overwhelming amount of support from the community, and so many wonderful emails from parents during that time.”

The parents of the Taido Dojo were extremely grateful that the Uchida family kept classes running for the kids and gave them something to do at a time when parents were going nuts.

Then in June of 2020, the dojo decided to reopen their in-person classes and combine them with the online sessions. Mitsuaki recalls that confusing time in the dojo’s history, “It reached the point where there was so much information out there, you could literally go online and find whatever you wanted to support your theory, so we decided to do what made sense for us.”

They kept the students six feet apart, allowed them to decide whether or not they wanted to wear masks, and over a year later they have a record of zero reported cases of COVID in the Taido dojo.

Currently, the Zoom class has been completely phased out, because almost the entire roster has decided to come back for in-person training with the Uchida family. But while the class size has returned to normal, they are still waiting for churches to open up — that’s where they hold competitions — so students can return to competing in tournaments.

Champions here and in Japan

While there are some similarities between the Taido Karate dojo and that famous tournament movie scene, there is one thing that Daniel LaRusso never got to do, and that is compete in in a worldwide tournament in Japan.

Every four years, the students of Taido Karate get the honor of traveling to Japan with their families to compete in worldwide Karate championships. Just like a mini version of the Olympics, the International Friendship Tournament switches off with the Japanese team, and every two years they come to America to compete, while the other two, the American team comes to them.

A total of 90 American students, plus their parents, travel together in a skillfully coordinated journey planned by Mitsuaki himself. Among many hurdles to overcome, he jokes that the hardest part of planning a trip that large was navigating the train system in Japan.

“It was like the Titanic,” he said. “The trains in Japan only stop for 60 seconds and that’s all you have to get 100+ people on board with their luggage. So we would have women and children enter one car while the men would throw all of the luggage into another car. It was crazy, but fun!”

The best part about the students getting to tour the country with a real Japanese tour guide, is that they get to experience the culture firsthand. One of the black belt students even ended up loving Japan so much that he moved there and is still living there today with his Japanese wife.

Mitsuaki boasts that they even won the Championships once while in Japan, and it was a great moment for the Taido team. The last tournament got cancelled three days beforehand due to COVID, and Mitsuaki has had all the trophies packed away ever since.

The Taido Karate family and their many students are eager to get back to competing in tournaments, including the World Taido Championships that will compete in Japan and Europe as soon as they receive the go-ahead.

Even if you’re not a Karate fan, you can surely appreciate the family legacy that the Uchida family has brought to so many generations of Peachtree Corners residents.

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DW1 Unveils New Peachtree Corners Headquarters and Brand Identity



DW1, formerly known as Discount Waste, Inc., has now settled in its office in Technology Park. As Peachtree Corners sees a surge of development, DW1’s move and rebranding stand out.

Situated at 250 Scientific Drive NW, the 45,000-square-foot building has 150 private offices and seven conference rooms. It also has an advanced training room and a “Town Center” designed for company lunches.

Additionally, the space doubles as an art collection that adds character to the workspace.

This move brings together their previous locations at Engineering Drive and Triangle Parkway. It consolidates over 100 employees who have been dispersed since 2019.

The inauguration event took place on September 28, 2023, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Vice Mayor Weare Gratwick, City Councilwoman Lorri Christopher, Southwest Gwinnett Chamber (SWGC) Chairman Bill Diehl and Executive Director Beth Coffey attended the event.

Board members Margie Asef, Larry Benator and Patty Thumann were also present.

Since its start in 1999, Discount Waste, Inc., now transitioning to DW1, has been a provider of waste removal and job site solutions.

Serving a wide range of clients, from general contractors and retailers to commercial establishments, the company has always emphasized strong client relationships and service.

Outside of the business realm, CEO Ed Foye‘s commitment to societal change is evident with All Children, Inc. This initiative focuses on delivering essential resources, such as nutrition, education and shelter, to children with disabilities in developing countries.

To know more about this effort, visit AllChildren.org.

A representative from DW1 shared, “We were thrilled to welcome our employees and their families to the new location on September 28. To learn more about our company’s next chapter, please visit DW1.com.”

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New Retail Concepts Join Merchandise Collection at The Forum Peachtree Corners



As North American Properties (NAP) and Nuveen Real Estate (Nuveen) transform The Forum Peachtree Corners into a mixed-use development, several new businesses are joining the merchandise mix. 

National retailers that signed long-term leases include Lovesac, Petfolk and Stretchlab. Temporary license agreements were reached with Auburn Candle Company, The Baby Nook and Girl Tribe Co.

Meet the retailers

Lovesac – This company designs, manufactures and sells unique furniture that’s guaranteed for life. It offers modular couches called Sactionals, foam beanbag chairs called Sacs and associated home décor accessories, including home audio systems.

Upon opening next to Chico’s in spring 2024, Lovesac at The Forum will be the ninth location in Georgia and fourth in NAP’s portfolio. 

Petfolk – Founded by vets with decades of experience in clinical practice, Petfolk is an animal hospital and pet care center built with pets and their owners in mind. 

Veterinary services include exams, vaccinations, urgent care, nutrition, diagnostic testing, digital radiology and more. 

The Forum location opens this October by Chipotle, marking the brand’s second brick-and-mortar in metro Atlanta.

Stretchlab – Recognized for its customized, assisted-stretch sessions, Stretchlab is a wellness concept specializing in one-on-one routines led by nationally accredited flexologists. 

Using a proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) approach, paired with dynamic and static stretching, the team is able to identify tightness and imbalances in the body. They then build a custom routine for each client to develop a wider range of motion and flexibility. 

Stretchlab opens next to Club Pilates at The Forum this winter.

Auburn Candle Company – Established in 2020 and based out of Auburn, Alabama, Auburn Candle Company hand-crafts signature candles and fragrances, free from additives and dyes.

In addition to shopping for pre-poured candles as well as other bath, body and home goods, candle lovers can develop their own creations at the in-store pour bar. 

Its year-long pop-up at The Forum, opening in October, will be the company’s first venture in Georgia.  

The Baby Nook – A haven for anyone seeking baby essentials and gifts, The Baby Nook will feature a select collection of baby items that combine functionality, safety and aesthetic appeal. 

The year-long pop-up will open in October next to Soft Surroundings.

Girl Tribe Co. – NAP is expanding its existing relationship with Charlotte-based Girl Tribe Co. to bring a temporary store to The Forum from October 6 through December 31. 

Created by childhood best friends and co-founders Sarah Baucom and Carrie Barker, the brand offers a collection of clothing, graphic tees, accessories and lifestyle products.

A combination of proprietary products and items made by local female entrepreneurs will be available for purchase in Suite 505, next to HomeGoods. Girl Tribe Co. also plans to host a series of events, workshops and networking sessions during its stay at The Forum.

The Forum’s merchandise mix continues to grow

These forthcoming brands join KeenaBelaGifts We All Want and Go! Calendars, Toys, and Games as the latest additions to The Forum’s tenant collection. 

KeenaBela, an Atlanta-based, eco-friendly sleep, lounge and resort-wear brand, officially opened its year-long pop-up at The Forum last month. 

Additionally, specialty boutiques Gifts We All Want and Go! Calendars, Toys, and Games, have once again returned for the holiday season.

“We have seen a tremendous amount of interest from small, local business owners looking to grow their brands in a low-risk, incubator-style environment,” said Emily Narchus, director of ancillary revenue at NAP. 

“As our leasing and development teams continue moving forward on The Forum’s renaissance, we are excited to play a part in upgrading the center’s retail makeup.”

NAP is nearing completion on the north end plaza and anticipates an early fall delivery of the 1,700-square-foot greenspace. This is the first, and smaller, of two community-driven spaces being adding to the property as part of its overall redevelopment. 

Along with the ongoing retail improvements, renovations to the office lobby in building 5185, anchored by Trader Joe’s, are now complete. 

The Forum has partnered with the Peachtree Corners Photography Club to display and sell winning pieces from its first juried exhibition in the revamped entrance.

To stay up to date on the latest property news and happenings, follow The Forum on FacebookTwitter and Instagram or visit theforumpeachtree.com.

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Waramaug Hospitality Acquires Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners



Waramaug Hospitality, a privately held investment firm focused on select-service and full-service hotels, announced on Aug. 23, it acquired the Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners. 

The 222-room Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners features a fitness center, indoor pool and outdoor fire pit seating area. All meeting and event spaces are equipped for various events, from industry conferences to happy hours and lifecycle events. 

“As the second full-service Marriott Hotel and 16th Marriott-branded property in our portfolio, said Ferit Ferhangil, Principal of Waramaug Hospitality, “we see tremendous revenue growth opportunities for this asset in a thriving market.”

The property, which will now be managed by Aimbridge Hospitality, is located within Technology Park, a regional technology and innovation hub. The 500-acre campus is a destination for technology innovation in the Southeast and home to over 2,300 businesses ranging from tech startups to Fortune 500 companies.

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