Designing Women S4 E28 – Extra Sugar - Atlanta: The Deep Cut Edition
Updated: Aug 25
Missed references! Not. On. Our. Watch.
For this season’s final (final!) Extra Sugar, we’re doing a mini deep-dive on three “deep cut” Atlanta references. Seriously, how did LBT find these places?!
We’ll link to some interesting mentions we found, as promised, as well as some deeper dives for those who just can’t get enough.
Sans Souci Lounge
@letterformarchive posted a photo of one of their matchbooks on IG
Apparently, a pizza place in Little Five has one of their old signs on their wall (or at least they did in 2014)
“Uptown” Atlanta map featuring Sans Souci
Jilly’s The Place for Ribs
Come on y’all, let’s get into it!
Salina: Hey, Nikki.
Nikki: Hey, Selena.
Salina: I didn't get a prompt.
Nikki: Sorry. We're here now.
Salina: You think the end of the theme music will be my prompt and it's not.
Nikki: Hey, y'all.
Salina: It's a surprise Extra sugar. This is one that I pulled together this week while we were doing final prep for our season four finale-finale.
It is inspired by my realization that we missed a couple of Atlanta references and deep cuts at that.
So I know we've kind of been a little all over the map, like where we feel is LBT capturing Atlanta.
Sometimes we're like, what?
There’s none of this here.
Sometimes we're like, how did she even know about that?
And I think in this case, these were such deep cuts, that's probably why I missed them.
So we'll cover those and then we're going to go ahead and use this as finally is the opportunity to talk about Jillies.
This is another Atlanta deep cut that was referenced midseason.
I did catch that one, but it's a doozy.
So I said we come back and now is that time.
So, Nikki, if you have questions about anything, let me know.
Maybe I'll answer them.
Maybe I won't be able to.
Maybe I'll tell you.
You're on your own.
So in this case, what we're going to do is we're going to start with the very last reference, which was both in the name of the very final episode and it was the resort and spa where they stayed.
La plase san suchi.
You got it.
A san SUCI.
Well, if we're pronouncing it here in the south, it is a little bit more southern sounding.
Is it suchi, though?
More specifically, I am referencing the san SUSE part.
I think that LBT.
May have been borrowing from the name of a disco turned nightclub that was on West Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta.
So according to Atlanta I thought everybody knew that.
According to Atlanta Daily World, quote, San Susie.
I'm trying so hard.
I just want it to be such.
Perfect was originally a white oriented disco club.
But after several performances, atlanta's third world band helped integrate the room, becoming one of the first black bands to play San SUSE.
Ultimately, Sansusi becomes predominantly a black nightclub.
And that, again, is directly from that article.
Here's what I've been able to learn for any Atlanta listener.
The lounge was specifically not just at west Peachtree, but 760 west peachtree street northeast.
That's less than half a mile from the Fox Theater.
In case you need a little context there from Flickr of all places, I found both an interior shot, which we'll link to, and a description of the lounge.
This was apparently on an old postcard that you can purchase on ebay.
For those who are interested.
It featured one of the largest dance and entertainment bands, a 120 foot bar and a 900 square foot dance area.
I haven't been able to track down exactly when it opened and closed, but I know it was running in the 60s from an ad that someone posted in the Designing Women Facebook fan group.
This post is what tipped me off on the place to start with, which is also just a plug for that group.
There's lots of great information that I get there all the time from a lot of really great fans of the show.
So I also know from some FBI files that it was still open as late as May 22, 1981, because it is mentioned in the Atlanta child murders investigation.
This is one of the places Wayne Williams said he was on May 22, and this was the first date when he was questioned by authorities.
That's literally a whole other podcast, but I would highly recommend Atlanta Monster for those who have not listened to it.
Finally, I was able to find one significant story about San Sus.
Why is this happening to me?
Because you're overthinking it.
Thanks to Booze Geek South.
So there they talk about Georgia Governor Lester Maddox.
He was a Baptist and a tea totaler, and it sounds like he was cracking down on the nightlife, perhaps with a bit of an Atlanta focus.
So not long after taking office in 1967, state troopers raided Sansuc at 01:00 A.m.
And arrested everyone inside to boot.
Citations were also given to anyone on the dance floor.
So what exactly had they done wrong?
They violated the blue laws by both selling alcohol and dancing on a Sunday.
Gosh darn it.
So the Sunday sales we've talked about so we know about those.
The other sounded like the plot of Footloose Footloose, but it's true.
And I did track back the law.
In 1925, dancing in public on the Lord's day was prohibited in Georgia, so this caused an uproar among nightclub operators because these laws hadn't been so much enforced, really, in the early Sunday hours, or what a lot of people tend to think of as Saturday night.
So the long story short is that Governor Maddox would quickly back down after he angered a lot of the right or wrong people, including some powerful Atlanta folks.
So I'll also drop in some smaller but fun mentions and or pictures into the blog post as well.
Okay, so that's one.
The next reference is from episode 23.
Suzanne gets a girlfriend when the ladies lose their minds over the not so lesbian after all.
So I think we probably both tried to search for Uncle Gertrude's.
Here's what we didn't search for.
So I ran across an Atlanta magazine article that mentions, get this aunt Charlie's.
Oh, dang it.
Why didn't I search Atlanta lesbian bars?
So not a lesbian bar.
But it is Aunt Charlie's.
And I just can't help but assume that LBT's fictitious name just has to be a clever hat tip.
I think you're right.
So Aunt Charlie's was a casual neighborhood bar in Buckhead that was open from the mid seventy s to the mid 90s.
So if you're from Atlanta originally or you live here now, it was at the apex of the Peach Tree Roswell Split.
According to Intown Paper Creative Loafing, it was the quote, unofficial headquarters of Buckhead Village, and it was owned by Warren Bruno, who closed it around the time the area was, quote, becoming a no holds barred meat market.
That sounds fun.
Despite his passing in 2012, three of his twelve restaurants are still in operation today.
So if you missed Aunt Charlie's and you were like ten like you and I were, you've probably heard of or been to Ornsby's off Howell Mill, atkins park in Virginia Highlands, my old stomping grounds, or Atkins Park Tavern in Smyrna.
Here's the thing.
It's really hard to track down specifics for a place that closed before the digital era, but the trail for Buckhead is much more findable and its 90s reputation still looms.
So we can drop in an article that speaks to different eras of nightlife in and around the city.
And it is very interesting.
I thought so.
Maybe less if you're from Atlanta, but it's a pretty wild history.
I found a few online accounts, however, that do give us a flavor of Aunt Charlie's and what really seems to be a beloved watering hole.
So just ask the very active 700 plus members of the Aunt Charlie's and Mike and Angelo's survivors Facebook group there.
Someone had uploaded a snippet from an article that ran in the Marietta Daily Journal on December 5, 1990, and here's what it said.
Aunt Charlie's the Great Little Buckhead Pub celebrates its 15th anniversary tonight with a big party and all old timers are invited back.
A decade ago, when Billy's and Buckhead across the street from Aunt Charlie's flashed its place to be seen motto, charlie's management cleverly spun off that with its old motto the place not to be seen.
And I have to tell you, that really resonates with me.
And finally, someone did add this comment on Warren Bruno's obituary.
Quote you transformed Aunt Charlie's from a mere bar to the family room of Buckhead.
So I do think that gives us some idea of what kind of establishment it was.
Like San SUSE.
I found some other small mentions or show and tell items, and we'll also link to those from the blog post.
Okay, are you ready?
I don't know.
So h***, this is the main event.
The grand finale, the unexpected.
Hold on, let me find a music for you.
I'm afraid I don't have any.
Do I need to come?
Does that work?
Oh, let's see what you think.
Okay, let's see what you think.
I have been waiting for months to relay this story.
So this is the unexpected reference of all references for those of you who don't remember and you don't have the script that you're looking at every day.
Not that I am.
That would be weird.
We renamed this one.
Any way you like.
Here's both that reference and context from Mary Jo's line.
Let's go to Jilly's first and eat the whole salad bar and then we'll fill the back of your car with ribs.
So at the time we were prepping for that episode, I did what I do every time.
Fired up Google.
I'd find out what we've found out so many times before.
Either this thing is not real or it's not findable at all.
Imagine my shock then, when I stumbled across a 2011 article with this headline crime Memory of the Week the Weird Case of Jellies on Roswell Road.
Wait, jelly's is real.
There was a crime.
It was weird.
And just like that, sold.
So I read on.
I was captivated.
Jillies, or Jillies, the place for ribs.
Its full name was owned by Carl Lewis Coppola, who told the Associated Press back in December of 1982 that he was kidnapped and held for three weeks in a warehouse in his own condo by a business associate and two other men.
He was chained, he was drugged, and he was beaten.
But it was the last line of the article that had me wrapped.
That line read, it was certainly not the first Atlanta restaurant or club to be connected with organized crime.
And with that one line, Nikki, I knew I was going to lose at least two and a half hours of my life to Google.
So my goal is to tell you the story.
But somewhere between what that article summed up in one sentence of the situation and then the 97 page appellate court files that I found, we're going way shorter than 97 pages.
I'm just telling you, it was real long.
This is a complicated story, y'all.
So again, Coppola, he is the owner of Jillies, was kidnapped in November of 1982.
He called one of the kidnappers a business associate, but this was a very good friend of his, sometimes even referenced as his best friend, francis Ford Coppola, Nicolas Cage.
That would be a really big story, would it not?
So it's not that big.
But his friend's name was Joseph Little Joe Cam.
Oh, little Joe.
You know Little Joe?
Six months later, Cam was murdered.
On May 1983, he was shot in the head four times, execution style.
Exactly three years later, May 1986, coppola and twelve others were indicted for running a huge Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta based marijuana smuggling ring.
I'll go ahead and tell you there's a little cocaine in the mix from time to time, as there is sometimes.
Coppola was charged as the ringleader.
Over the course of a three month trial, the government showed that from 1973 to 1986, coppola led this crime enterprise that funneled marijuana profits into legitimate businesses, concealed his ownership of the businesses, used violence, including conspiring to murder to protect Coppola's interests, and distributed cocaine and conspired to commit robbery.
In 1987, he was sentenced to a 55 year prison term.
So where does Jillies come into this?
And do they have ribs that you can fill your trunk with?
I would love for them to have ribs for me to fill my trunk with right this very moment would be excellent.
So it's one of those legitimate businesses that they funneled drug money into an investment that Coppola and Cam made in 1978, a year after Coppola moved from their hometown of Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta.
You see, Jillies was coppola's baby.
He ran it, and he turned it into a small chain and franchise with four locations open by 1984.
This is a side note from that initial.
I said, like a local paper, it's creative loafing.
Again, this is an important side note, though.
He wanted to make Jilly's a legitimate franchise operation.
Meaning, from what I understand, the other restaurants had no part in the federal investigation.
So in all fairness to those franchisees okay, so Cam stayed in Fort Lauderdale.
He never came to Atlanta officially.
He also drew a paycheck, and he got medical benefits from Jelly's as well.
Things were good.
Ribs were flowing in Atlanta.
Drugs were flowing, probably in a lot of places.
And then Cam ran into some money problems, and he demanded money from Jilly's.
Coppola wouldn't even return his original investment.
Cam thought he was being cheated.
And bada bing, bada boom.
This is how you go from a lifelong friendship to a kidnapping, the one we've already referenced.
From early on, cam and his two partners did ransom some money out of that kidnapping, about 50,000.
But this is certainly not the payday that he was after.
Cam allowed Coppola to call the police when he realized that his partners were close to killing him.
They were friends, after all.
And after Cam's arrest, coppola posted his bond and hired his attorney.
Although, if you ask me, this is more CYA than BFF.
From here, it sort of turns into let's call it the Mafiosa version of if you give a mouse a cookie.
So in this case, for Cam, his cookies were more like a boatload of cash for his Jelly stock and favorable testimony from Coppola in his kidnapping trial.
Coppola, in return, would get audio tapes that Cam had apparently been recording him secretly over the years.
This was all very carefully negotiated through several sit downs that had now involved representatives from New York and Chicago organized crime, who then also began extorting money from Coppola for the, quote, help they provided in these negotiations.
From what I read, he spent almost everything he had to pay them off.
Now, as I understand it, there were some other things being negotiated at the table, perhaps some of the business ventures.
But this settlement between these two guys was definitely in the mix.
But here's the thing.
Cam, he still wasn't happy.
He didn't like the deal, and he refused to give up these tapes.
And then he even threatened Coppola's ex wife and daughter.
So Coppola hires a man named Daniel Forgoni to kill Cam, probably out of debt, don't you, Daniel?
I'm trying so hard not to do it, and I just anyways, sorry.
It's like the only way I can pronounce the name correctly.
He hires him to kill Cam, probably out of desperation.
But in doing so, he unwittingly sets off a series of events that would be his own undoing.
See, before Cam was killed, he told his friend to turn over the 150 hours worth of tapes that he had on Coppola and others to the merck.
So according to the Sun Sentinel quote, the tapes detailed kidnappings, murders, mafia extortions, freighter sized drug shipments, con games, and huge sums of cash laundered through bars and restaurants.
The paper also notes that these tapes were foundational to the indictment that took down Coppola and the Fort Lauderdale Atlanta smuggling ring.
That, my friends, is what you call full circle.
But, like, what about Jillies?
What about the ribs?
What about the ribs?
Here's the thing.
I can't tell you when they all went under, but thanks to a glorious Tampa Bay Times article, I can tell you that two were still operational in 1992.
Okay, who was running them, you might ask?
Was that's right?
The federal government.
And as they had done since 1986, when all of Coppola's assets were seized, it's not that they wanted to be in the rib business, but they weren't allowed to offload them until Coppola exhausted all of his appeals.
So we know that the government ran it for at least six years through a contractor, and it's maybe one of the few restaurants that experience, oh, some good old fashioned government bureaucracy.
That's what I was imagining.
A government I say one to the other.
I was imagining a government wonk sitting in their office being like, I don't know, ribs.
So here's some really fine examples of red tape at work.
Every new hire had to undergo an FBI criminal background check.
Now, let me tell you something, Nikki.
I've been in the restaurant industry, okay?
There's a lot of people in the restaurant industry who probably are not going to pass an FBI background check.
So that's thing one any changes, say, a menu item or to paint the bathroom, had to get U.
Marshal Service approval, and then they had to take bids if something was broken or if they needed new equipment.
So a roof and an AC repair, according to the source in this story, took six to eight months, would require congressional briefing in the summertime.
So look, y'all, it's even more twisty than what I shared.
There's way more to this story, but like I said, I was looking for some of that sweet, sweet middle ground.
We'll link to more info for those who want it.
And just a huge thanks to the Sun Sentinel and those court documents, without which this segment would not exist.
So what can one conclude from these three Atlanta landmarks of yesteryear?
Well, one, crime doesn't pay.
It mainly extorts.
Two, everyone loves ribs, especially those in organized crime.
Three, thank God we can dance on Sundays now.
And I do think this podcast has at least one thing in common with our friends at Aunt Charlie's.
We are also the place to literally not be seen.
And that's season four, folks.
Look out for our special episode next week, it's the First Wives Club.
And don't worry, we don't plan on getting even.
You know the drill.
DM us, email us, contact us from the website, find us us all over the socials.
And that's this week's extra sugar.