THREE SIBLINGS OPEN A BAR
Back in 1991, Michael Benoit was working as an artist in his hometown of Los Angeles whenÂ he realized it was time for a change. While taking a two-week driving tour of the Southeast, heÂ visited Atlanta for the first time. In those days, Atlanta was a young, affordable city with aÂ spectacularly thriving nightlife. â€œLast-Callâ€ was made at 4:00 am, and just in case you stillÂ weren't ready to go home, there were several 24-hour clubs operating around town. It alsoÂ seemed like there was a strip club on every corner. Michael was sold. He went back to L.A.,Â packed up all his belongings and hit the road for Georgia. He was soon followed by his brother,Â Hank, and sister, Suzanne, who were also ready to bid farewell to Southern California.
Since all three siblings wanted to create a little fun for themselves in their newly adopted city,Â they decided to pool their meager resources and open a bar, instead of going out and looking forÂ jobs. After all, what could be more fun than hanging out in a bar every day? They couldn't thinkÂ of anything. So, they rented a little underperforming pub on the corner of West Peachtree and 11th StreetÂ in Midtown. At the time, many locals advised them that the area was somewhat â€œundesirable,â€ butÂ the trio forged ahead with their plan, mostly because they didn't know any better.
The siblings opened the original location on April 20, 1992,Â and personally welcomed each and every new customer that came in. TheyÂ were working all day every day, performing every choreÂ requiredÂ to keep the bar running, but they were really enjoying themselves. Since none ofÂ them had any previous experience in the hospitality industry, they were surprised when they encountered their first rude customer. This behavior would not stand in their pub. So they declared The Vortex an â€œOfficial Idiot-Free Zone,â€ and posted theirÂ company policies to act as a â€œcode of conductâ€ for guests. Their philosophy was, â€œJust be Nice.â€ Is that too much to ask? Apparently, sometimes it is. So people who annoyed them were regularlyÂ tossed out of their bar, often physically. This garnered the siblings a certain degree of notoriety forÂ their unconventional approach to customer service. Their big personalities and offbeat sense ofÂ humor became hallmarks of the new bar. They had succeeded in creating a cool, secretÂ hideout for themselves that people seemed to love, and the business prospered.