On Business: My Parents' Basement

By | Monday, November 07, 2016 2 comments
My Parents' Basement is the name of an Atlanta area bar and grill. They're notable for two things: first, they have a wide selection of craft beers, and second, they're also a comic book shop. I've heard of shops that serve coffee and maybe pastries and such, but this is the first (and only!) shop I've heard of that is a full-on restaurant as well. I stumbled across them in a Google search while I was in town for a wedding a week ago and said, "Well, this I have to see!"

The first thing I noticed upon walking in was the overall decor. As you can see in the pictures, it's mostly a dark wood theme, not uncommon in your bar and grill type settings. There were a few framed pieces along the walls -- mostly posters, but there was Heath Ledger Joker portrait that looked like it might be an original painting, and I also spied what appeared to be an original animation cel from Akira. Then dotting the ledge near the ceiling, and some of the nooks behind the bar, were a variety of action figures and statues. Mostly superheroes, but some Star Wars and other properties as well. It was a surprisingly (to me) classy effect overall -- certainly moreso than your typical let's-nail-crap-on-the-walls approach a lot of places have taken.

To the right was then a small comic shop, separated mostly by a counter with several stools in front of it. I actually dove into the comics area first before we sat down to eat, and was really surprised at the breadth of material they had. For not having a lot of space, relative to a lot of dedicated comic shops I've been in, they used it amazingly efficiently and had a good selection of current issues and trades, including a number of indie titles I wouldn't expect to see in some larger shops! They even had an area devoted to local talent. There was a separate cash register with some more expensive, older comics behind it but, by and large, they didn't have much in the way of back issue stock. (At least, not visible.) But, as I said, an impressive collection of current/perennial material.

The lunch menu wasn't large, but it did have good variety as well, including several vegetarian options. Honestly, I was somewhat skeptical at first because... well, it's a comic shop slash bar and grill; I'd be skeptical of a bánh mì at any place that didn't specialize in Vietnamese food. So my wife and I played it pretty safe with our order: a cheeseburger for me, nachos and a side of mac & cheese for her. We were both pleasantly surprised with our plates. Everything was really solid, and I'd happily swing by there for lunch or dinner once a week if it were close enough. (Neither of us are really beer drinkers, though, so I can't comment on the craft brews they had available.)
They've evidently been around since 2012, and I have to say I'm impressed. Running a restaurant is no easy task. I've heard stats that say about half fail within the first six months, and about 75% fail in the first two years. My Parents' Basement is on year four, so they're batting well above average on that point alone. But then to run a (seemingly) successful comic book shop AT THE SAME TIME is doubly impressive -- although I don't have numbers to quantify it, comic shops are notoriously hard to manage as well. Just trying to juggle inventory on the two halves alone seems like it would be a nightmare! But even at 2:00 on a Sunday afternoon, there were plenty of patrons at both the restaurant and the comic shop.

(And, by the way, it was set up so that you could easily slide between the two. I picked up several comics to purchase during lunch, and then the waitress just added them to our bill.)

It's a brilliant idea and to see it carried out so well deserves high kudos. I'd love to see this kind of thing up here in Chicago but, as I suggested in the previous paragraph, it would be insanely difficult to replicate. At least at a level that would make it worthwhile. If you ever find yourself in the Atlanta area, I would highly recommend stopping by for both a good meal and some great reading.
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Phil said...

Just something us old guys have noticed. Comic book shops used to hard to find back issues. These days most comic shops sell new comics. I don't know if it's because the back issue market is dying off as old collectors die off or because old comics are actually getting harder to find. Or new readers don't read old comics.
I've often wondered why comic stores don't sell coffee and snacks. Book stores do.

Back issue sales in comic shops took a big nose dive with the advent of ebay. You can go online and buy almost literally any issue of almost every title right now without even having to hunt for it. Most shops, if they carry back issues at all, only have the past few months available. If you want to go hunting through long boxes, you pretty much have to go to a convention and sort through unorganized bargain bins.