Jose Navarro and Mat Tainow had a vision to bring a local, small-town vibe to the concrete jungle of Downtown Atlanta.
In 2003, the two friends pioneered a neighborhood bar in the Fairlie-Poplar district with their first venture, Sidebar. A few years later they opened Park Bar, just steps away from Centennial Park.
“We felt like downtown was missing something back then,” says Jose. “Surprisingly, we found that a lot of local residents and workers really loved their downtown and were very supportive of us opening a neighborhood bar.”
Specializing in great burgers and known for its speciality drinks, Park Bar has since established itself as a downtown staple for Atlanta residents and visitors alike. “We like to think of ourselves as your local bar, even if you live elsewhere,” says Jose. “We are a place to gather and socialize. We are the place to join others for a pre-game beverage before cheering on Atlanta United, or where to meet friends before seeing your favorite artist perform at State Farm Arena.”
But 2020 put a halt to all that, throwing Park Bar a one-two punch. After being closed for a couple months because of pandemic-related restrictions, the bar was just reopening in a limited capacity when the initial days and nights of social unrest shut it down again for another week.
“We were fortunate in that we only had graffiti on a lot of the building,” says Mat. “We weren't broken into and, most importantly, none of our staff was hurt.”
The financial impact, however, has been profound, leading Mat and Jose to apply for both the Invest Atlanta Resurgence Grant Fund and the City of Atlanta Recovery Fund, which provides up to $10,000 in grants to businesses that were adversely impacted during Atlanta’s demonstrations.
“There was absolutely no way we could have afforded the expense to remove and repaint the walls affected by the graffiti,” says Mat. “With COVID decimating our business, the building would have remained scarred without the help from Invest Atlanta.”
That assistance, in fact, has been a much-needed lifeline for Park Bar. “It’s been integral to us treading water until the pandemic subsides and the big downtown events return,” says Jose. “Invest Atlanta has been very diligent in getting out and helping the business community, and we are truly grateful for the rescue.”