Our 7 Favorite Places in Atlanta

Jon Vaughan

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At Brand Vaughan, we’re all about local businesses. And in an effort to selfishly ensure that our favorite Atlanta small businesses are here for as long as they wish to be, we wanted to shout out some of the establishments we rely on.

There are some amazing establishments in Atlanta, but a few of these businesses and sights truly stand out. If you’re ever in the area, make sure you give them some business! It will be well worth your time.
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Refuge Coffee is in Clarkston, about 10 minutes outside of Atlanta. It uses the name refuge because Clarkston is a melting pot of different cultures. In fact, the city has the highest concentration of refugees per square mile than any other place in the United States. Kitti and her husband founded Refuge Coffee almost a decade ago, starting out in a van and serving coffee in a gas station parking lot.

Their goal was to create jobs for the refugees who were seeking safety and community in the area. Today Refuge Coffee has two locations (and a huge fan base) in the Clarkston area, and it’s run as a nonprofit to help support local refugees.

“We want to connect people. We want refugees to get to know Americans who live all around them. We want Americans who don’t know a thing about refugees to get to know them,” Kitti told CNN in a 2019 interview.

Visit Refuge Coffee to support a great cause AND get a great cup of coffee at the same time.

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Established by Lucy Jackson in 1947, the Busy Bee Cafe has been a part of Atlanta and the city’s history for decades. Momma Lucy founded the soul food restaurant as a self-taught cook, and since then, the restaurant has served thousands of Atlanta residents and visitors over the years, including famous patrons like Martin Luther King, Jr.

“They truly have the best fried chicken,” according to Jon Vaughan of Brand Vaughan Lumber.

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For something sweet, Atlanta has what Jon Vaughan calls: “The best doughnuts on the planet.” Sublime Doughnuts has a few locations, with two in Atlanta (and an international shop in Bangkok).

Sublime was founded by Kamal Grant, who baked for his shipmates while serving in the Navy. After traveling around the world, he went to the Culinary Institute of America and put his skills to the test.

His love for world cuisines inspires the creative menu at Sublime. Since founding Sublime Doughnuts in 2008, Kamal has served the city of Atlanta dozens and dozens of truly unique treats, from Nutella to the classic A-town doughnut. (There’s even a Salt and Vinegar flavor!) For doughnut lovers, this shop is a must-visit.

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For another culinary trip around the world, the team at BVL also recommends Dekalb Farmers Market, in Dekalb County. It’s referred to by locals as world market because it’s also a melting pot of many different cultures and cuisines.

Dekalb Farmers Market offers fresh produce, seafood, meat, deli food and an international products department that features an entire aisle of spices from around the world. There’s coffee, beer and wine available as well.

While their restaurant is currently closed, the market remains open and stocked for customers throughout the week. Since it was established in 1977, the Dekalb Farmers Market has served the community with pride and a commitment to quality.

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Just down the street from Brand Vaughan’s Tucker location is Matthew’s Cafeteria. The restaurant has been recognized in the media on a few occasions: Guy Fieri paid Matthew’s a visit on the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show on the Food Network, and the restaurant was also featured in the Travel Channel’s Food Paradise series.

The restaurant has a reputation for high-quality, made-from-scratch Southern cuisine, and according to the team at Brand Vaughan, makes the best fried pork chops around. (The fried chicken is also wonderful.)

Matthew’s Cafeteria offers takeout, drive-through, dine-in and outdoor dining — but be warned! It’s a favorite of locals, so you’ll want to get there early to secure your seat.

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Although technically not a local business, if you’re looking to experience a different side of downtown Atlanta, check out the oldest public park in the city: The Oakland Cemetery. Its 48 acres are a welcome sight for visitors, and the cemetery features art galleries, events and tons of green space for people to enjoy. The cemetery also showcases some of the most beautiful trees in the city — more than 1,400 of them!

The cemetery was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976 and welcomes tens of thousands of visitors each year. There are numerous notable residents interred at the cemetery, including Atlanta’s first Black mayor, Maynard Jackson, and Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind.

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Again, not technically a business, but the Atlanta BeltLine is one more reason we’re proud of our region. The BeltLine is a groundbreaking project in the community. Originally an old rail line, the BeltLine is being redeveloped for community recreation, affordable housing and economic development.

The project started in 2005, inspired by an idea from Georgia Tech student, Ryan Gravel. The Atlanta BeltLine Redevelopment Plan is a community effort and included a six-month process of gathering input from locals on the project.

The plan for the BeltLine is to serve as “a 22-mile loop of trails, transit, and greenspace that will transform the City and become a centerpiece for sustainable growth and connectivity,” according to its website.

In 2011, the first-ever drawing was held for 28 new affordable homes in a development in southeast Atlanta. The BeltLine project also features affordable senior communities for elderly residents. With parks, trails, art programs and a transit system on the way, the Atlanta BeltLine has become an increasingly important feature of our fair city.

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Whether you’ve lived in the area for years or are just visiting, the city of Atlanta has a lot to offer. From sweet treats to beautiful vistas, there’s no shortage of worthwhile places to visit here in Georgia’s capital.

Brand Vaughan Lumber is proud to be so close to this amazing metroplex and serves much of Atlanta and the surrounding areas out of our company’s five locations.

Want to learn more? Check out some of Atlanta’s oldest homes and our favorite historic sites.