Your Graham Woods Update

Developer Mike Watson at the CIA meeting

Back in June of 2012, we heard a rumor that an Irish pub would be coming to Cloverdale as an enterprise of a local architect and developer named Mike Watson. We broke that news here on MML. Later that month, as people started to talk, we went to a joint meeting of the Old Cloverdale Association and the Cloverdale-Idlewild Association (CIA) to hear more about the proposal. The post we wrote about that meeting has a comment trail a mile long. It turns out that our neighbors are very interested in (and very opinionated about) the future of the Five Points neighborhood.

Nothing happened for a long time, until suddenly there were signs announcing that Graham Woods Neighborhood Pub was “Comming Soon” in the space formerly occupied by The Look Boutique (long decamped to the Greater Zelda Road Co-Prosperity Zone) and the jeweler. It was no longer called SugrueBAR and was no longer an Irish pub. It was now named after one of Montgomery’s founding fathers and was going to be Scottish-themed.

Last night, Watson, who has purchased the entire building, came to the CIA monthly meeting to answer questions from neighbors and talk about his plans for the development. We’re happy to share what we found out with our readers.

1. What’s up with the strip? Watson bought the whole building from alley to alley – that’s from the former jeweler to the hair salon. The businesses holding leases include the shoe repair shop, Sandra Nickel Hat Team REALTORS, M. Bagwell, Tomatino’s, Cafe Louisa and Seville Salon. Watson has organized efforts to update the signage on the strip, including painting stores “Tomatino’s Green” to match the pizza shop’s current hue. He wants his building to look nice and was hopeful that someday the recommendations of the 2005 charrette would be implemented to improve the streetscape and sidewalks. Lots of people wanted to know about the future of the tenants. Watson said that everyone who now had a lease would stay, as far as he knew, “assuming their business practices don’t change.” It’s unclear what this meant exactly, but we can assume that he wants long-term stable tenants paying rent in the building he owns.

The plan handed out last night

2. What’s up with the pub? They are hoping to have it open before Thanksgiving, and Watson plans for it to be open seven days a week from 4 p.m. until midnight. The space that used to be the jeweler will now be a breezeway. The plans we were shown included steps leading up to the roof. When asked about those, Watson said he would be interested in building a rooftop component but could not say when that would open. We assume that means a roof patio or deck or something. The breezeway will go into the pub as well as back onto a patio, where there will be a kitchen and restrooms. Watson said he didn’t currently plan on serving food, but that it made sense to build in a kitchen while doing the renovations, if only to maximize flexibility for future uses.

3. Where will people park? Ah, Cloverdale parking. Never a dull moment in the battle for a space. The current plan is to add no spaces. Watson said he didn’t own any additional land that could be used for parking expansions, so people are going to have to make use of existing spaces. He said he hoped the city could implement the 2005 charrette recommendations, resulting in wider sidewalks with parallel parking in the existing angle spots and angle parking over by Huntingdon (you can see the charrette report here on MML, the only online home as far as we know). City Councilor Arch Lee, who was present at the meeting, said that the city could not currently afford to implement the charette’s plans, and it would take a long time to do the improvements even if the money were available.

Watson said his goal was for Fairview to be narrowed on both sides — in front of his building and across the street at Sinclair’s and The Capri. This would reduce the number of parking spaces, but would expand sidewalks and reduce pedestrian congestion, as well as slow down traffic through that area.

4. What will happen to the trash? This was another question that was on the mind of neighborhood residents, and answers weren’t exactly clear. Pubs generate a lot of trash, for sure, but we assume they’ll just deal with containers and dumpsters as best as they can. A related question was about how freight would be unloaded on the narrowed streets. One neighbor said that it could be tricky to traverse Fairview when beer trucks were parked in the middle of the road unloading their deliveries. Watson agreed and said he hoped those trucks would find better places to park when unloading their deliveries.

5. What’s the bottom line? This is happening and probably within the next few months. Watson has spent a lot of money acquiring one of the most significant pieces of neighborhood commercial real estate in the entire city, and the Graham Woods Neighborhood Pub is going to start serving drinks before 2013 is over. It’s certainly a good sign that the building is in the hands of an owner committed to improving it and building viable businesses, even if the presence of a new bar might make some of the existing establishments a little uneasy. Those existing establishments have loyal customers, so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with the new local business on the block.

Kate and Stephen are Midtown residents with two cats, a dog, four fish, a garden, an old house and a sense of adventure. They write about life in Midtown here and about life in Montgomery at their blog Lost in Montgomery.


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There Are 24 Brilliant Comments

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  1. David says:

    I dont see how narrowing the street and reducing parking will help at all when its already a pain to find parking if its busy in Cloverdale. Id think a new pub would want as much parking as possible available in an area that is already taxed in that department. Id also think making it harder for you to get your deliveries of alcohol would be somewhat detrimental as well.

  2. Jim Daniels says:

    No Offense, but it is Huntingdon not Huntington.

  3. Sarah says:

    How is Mike Watson building more crappy bars when he can’t afford to pay his home mortgage? He is a pox on this town.

  4. ANON says:

    Why doesn’t he lease the dead space at 1038? It’s, by far, the best space on the strip.

  5. Jay Croft says:

    Two observations–

    1. A bar without food means there will be more drunks walking and driving. What with the proposed narrower streets, this is a sure recipe for accidents.

    2. On several occasions recently, we’ve considered an evening meal at one of the Five Points eateries. We decided “Nah. Parking is going to be impossible.” We ended up over at Zelda Road and on one occasion (not to be repeated in the near future) at Martin’s.

    • David says:

      I was actually hoping they would have traditional Scottish/English pub food as I really was disappointed by the “Irish” offerings from the Irish Bred Pub. As for the parking unless packed I usually don’t have much issue unless something is going on down there. Might be the time me and my wife go to eat though and our willingness to walk from 1048 or Leroy. I never unless lucky find something in front of Tomatino’s or El Rey.

      • Jesseca says:

        Exactly. What’s the point of going to a Scottish pub if you can’t get a scotch egg, as disgusting as they are? And hello, bangers and mash, please!

        Is parking really that bad? Granted, I live in walking distance, but I’ve also lived in real cities where you parked where you could and walked. What’s up with people being afraid of walking 500 feet? It’s a lovely neighborhood. Enjoy the stroll.

  6. Mr E. says:

    Mike will try to scratch up a buck or two to throw together yet another horrible attempt of a bar. All of his places are dreadfully mismanaged and understaffed. This will be no exception. Besides, why would anyone want to go to a place that is sure to serve the cheapest light beer when there are top notch places right across the street.

  7. Rick Bailes says:

    The jeweler who was occupying 1050 E. Fairview Ave. next to the Look Boutique, referred to in the above article is “Cloverdale Jewelers” that moved to 3326 Main St. Millbrook, 334-201-8444. Not sure of the long term future for other business in the building I was in. I just hope Mike Watson does help the old neighborhood and the businesses in Old Cloverdale, Fairview Ave. area.
    Don’t forget we “Cloverdale Jewelers” are still in business and love Old Cloverdale, the Residents, businesses and our customers we worked with while we were there.
    Rick Bailes

  8. Henry P says:

    This little strip on Fairview might just be Montgomery’s most authentic, charming bit of commercial real estate. Let’s hope MW manages something with a bit of character, not a bland re-creation of the traditional British pub. Tyler Bell has always done a fine job, first with El Rey and now with Leroy. More of this, please.

    -Bonus points to MW if the Graham Woods is smoke-free. The bars along this strip may well be the smokiest in America.

  9. Jay Croft says:

    Henry, I agree.

    I’ve never been inside of Bud’s, for example, because often one can smell the tobacco smoke outside the building. It’s gotta permeate the food, for sure. No thanks!

  10. ANON says:

    Mike Watson’s bars are absolutely smoke free.

    Neither Alley, Sand, or Aviator are a, “horrible attempt of a bar.”

    There’s usually plenty of extra parking at Cloverdale Playhouse unless, of course, they are having a performance.

    Mike Watson has more than one home and plenty of money to pay dozens & dozens of employees — and his mortgages — in addition to being very charitable in the community.

    The beer selections at his other places are very, very good.

    • David says:

      Been to all three of MW other bars and to be honest they really are not my type of thing. I chalk this up to me though rather than the bars for the most part. I dont enjoy paying a cover to go inside a place to drink even if there is not a band playing (alley bar). Sand Bar to me is really out of the way unless something is going on down by the river in my opinion but it was pretty packed there the one time I went and I couldn’t even get to the bar to get a drink. Aviator I have been to twice and the service was lacking both times. The bartenders just didnt seem to pay attention and were more interested in hanging out and talking to eachother.

      • Johnny V says:

        AlleyBAR has only charged a cover charge when bands are playing. As of last weekend, unless it is a very big (expensive) band, they have gone to no cover.

  11. OneWhoKnows says:

    Mike Watson is the finest human being
    ever to walk the planet!! We are truly blessed
    to have a man of such character in Montgomery!!
    He will run the finest bar the country’s ever seen!
    Everybody loves Mike!

  12. MS says:

    Just glad to see someone taking a leadership role with that space. It’s a great location that just needs a little love. Good luck Mike. Look forward to seeing what you come up with later this year

  13. OneWhoKnows says:

    You guys will literally post anything!! It’s
    freaking hilarious!!!

  14. Outside Looking In says:

    A few comments:
    1. Those spaces were mostly vacant and apparently left to deteriorate. The community should welcome Mike’s investment.
    2. Mike’s other bars might not be “your thing” but some like them and frequent them and they are profitable. That’s capitalism and it is good.
    3. With additional private investment in those buildings maybe the city will be spurred into action and execute some of the recommendations from the master plan/charette. Note: a little disturbing that our City Councilman dismisses this by commenting that “the City doesn’t have the money”. The city has money and tax receipts are growing. It is a matter of priorities and having a Councilman who will fight for his district.
    4. Parking problem? I have to laugh, like when one of you Gumpers complain about “the traffic” in this town. Really? I guess it would be really bad if you had to walk the 100 yards from the Playhouse to Sinclairs. Lord! You might perish!

  15. ANON says:

    Support the Capri Theatre

    This Thursday night

    THE BIG LEBOWSKI

    THURSDAY, Sept 19 @ 7:30pm
    1998 Dir: Coen Brothers Starring: Jeff Bridges, John Goodman 117mins 35mm

    When “The Dude” Lebowski is mistaken for a millionaire Lebowski, two thugs urinate on his rug to coerce him into paying a debt he knows nothing about. While attempting to gain recompense for the ruined rug from his wealthy counterpart, he accepts a one-time job with high pay-off. He enlists the help of his bowling buddy, Walter, a gun-toting Jewish-convert with anger issues. Deception leads to more trouble, and it soon seems that everyone from porn empire tycoons to nihilists want something from The Dude.

    Please join your friends before and after the show for complimentary
    WHITE RUSSIANS
    on the site of the future
    GRAHAM WOODS
    (we are a loooong way from opening but very close to having fun!)

  16. 2019 Callin says:

    Can someone do a follow up to this piece? It’s 2019 and this is the most recent thing I’ve seen.
    What’s the latest? And please don’t say anything is coming soon. There is a friggin Cook Out restaurant built in months but this thing takes 5 years? Help me understand.
    https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/2018/11/26/progress-slowed-but-fairview-avenue-bars-and-restaurant-still-planned-popular-strip/2024335002/

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