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Biz bits: Chai Pani raising money for Dharavi Diary, Alair Homes wins contractor of the year awards

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Biz bits: Chai Pani raising money for Dharavi Diary, Alair Homes wins contractor of the year awards

Chai Pani Restaurant Group is raising money for Dharavi Diary. Photo by Molly Milroy.

Atlanta, GA — Here’s a look at business news in our community.

– Chai Pani Restaurant Group has pledged to raise $40,000 by the end of the month for Dharavi Diary.

Dharavi Diary is a children’s community center in the heart of one of the largest slums in India. The Chai Pani team has visited the organization multiple times, according to an announcement from Chai Pani. In Dharavi, over one million people live in one square mile and there is little room for children to learn or play. Dharavi Diary is a vibrant community center and safe haven for youth. It was also a lifeline during the pandemic.

The money raised will fund Dharavi Diary’s entire operation for the next year, covering STEAM learning, rent for two centers, and health and hygiene programs for 400 students. All funds raised will be sent directly to support the students at Dharavi Diary.

Chai Pani has started multiple initiatives across its restaurants and Spicewalla to reach its goal.

The restaurant group is hosting a Dharavi give-back night on Wednesday, Dec. 7 in which 20% of Chai Pani Decatur and Botiwalla at Ponce sales, including takeout, will be donated to Dharavi Diary. This will also be taking place at Chai Pani Asheville and Botiwalla Charlotte.

Chai Pani has launched a star-powered holiday auction for Dharavi Diary full of culinary and travel experiences as well as their favorite products – Spicewalla, East Fork, Burlap & Barrel, etc. – that will close on Dec. 15. Thirteen unique items are available — an intimate Brown in the South dinner, a meal for four at Dhamaka in NYC.  All proceeds will be donated to Dharavi Diary.

Chai Pani’s spice brand Spicewalla is donating 25% of proceeds from all three Chai Pani Collections to Dharavi Diary through the end of the year.

Alair Decatur Project Managers celebrate their CotY win. Pictured, L-R: Amanda Harris, Heather Shuster and Ken Carter. Photo courtesy of Alair Homes.

– Alair Homes in metro Atlanta won Two National Association of the Remodeling Industry Contractor of the Year Awards. 

Here is the full press release:

ATLANTA — The two metro Atlanta offices of Alair Homes each won a first-place CotY (Contractor of the Year) Award at the 30 th Annual NARI Atlanta (National Association of the Remodeling Industry) CotY Awards Banquet. In addition, David Michelson, Alair North Georgia regional partner and NARI Atlanta board chair, was honored with the Brad Cruickshank Leadership Award for his service to the chapter. Alair Decatur and Alair Marietta are part of the largest and fastest-growing premium home construction management franchise in North America. The two offices won top honors in the following categories:

Alair Decatur: First Place, Residential Detached Structure

This award honors a lovely and highly functional combination pool house, garage and multi-purpose room designed and built for homeowners in Atlanta’s Morningside neighborhood. Because of lot-size restraints, the structure features a split-level design where the kitchenette and full bath flow seamlessly to the porch and pool, and the multipurpose room is situated upstairs. A generous two-car garage on the main level provides protection and storage. Outside, beautiful wood work, copper gutters, mitered corners and exquisite stone make a strong statement, while inside, an exceptional wall of custom millwork provides storage, bed space, lounging and charm.

Alair Marietta: First Place, Residential Addition $100,000 – $250,000

A Marietta homeowner desired a re-designed kitchen to serve as an open and inviting space with plenty of storage and where the family could gather together throughout the day. Alair Marietta enlarged the existing space to create a natural traffic flow with new
flooring, lighting, countertops and an expanded kitchen island. Custom cabinetry and storage spaces were designed to hide small appliances, while island storage and a walk-in pantry eliminate clutter. A favorite new feature is the dedicated beverage wall. Thanks to the first-floor kitchen expansion, Alair Marietta was able to enlarge the second-floor primary bedroom above, and prepped plumbing and electrical systems to allow for a future renovation of the upstairs primary bathroom.

Alair North Georgia has a strong history of NARI support and involvement. David Michelson, Alair Decatur partner, has just completed his second term as NARI Atlanta President and now serves as NARI Atlanta Chairman of the Board, while Dale Contant, Alair Marietta partner, is a former NARI Atlanta President, NARI National President and two-time NARI National Board Chairman.

– Fernbank Museum is launching a new exhibit, “The Nature of Color,” on Feb. 11, 2023. 

Here is the full press release:

ATLANTA, DECEMBER 1, 2022— Fernbank Museum offers a vivid immersion into the science of color in the new special exhibit “The Nature of Color,” on view from Feb. 11 – May 7, 2023.

Our world is covered in color — it’s woven so tightly into our lives that we rarely stop to question what it is and how it works. Where do colors come from? How have some animals evolved to stand out while others blend in? How did pink come to be associated with femininity in Western culture? Why do some colors make us feel different emotions?

“The Nature of Color” offers an in-depth exploration of the way color carries information in nature, including how organisms use it to find food, warn off predators and reproduce. The exhibit also delves into the use of color across cultures, where different colors can signal a wide range of meanings, impact emotions and ultimately influence the society around us.

“The Nature of Color exhibit is a unique blending of science and culture, providing many opportunities for guests to learn not only about the science of color and light, but also about the significance and symbolism attributed to color by people around the globe,” says Bobbi Hohmann, VP of Programming & Collections. “The Nature of Color really captures the essence of natural history explorations and we’re excited to bring this engaging new exhibit to Atlanta.”

This fun and family friendly exhibit features models, cultural objects, media and interactive components that will invite visitors to play and experiment. Guests will be immersed in a kaleidoscope of imagery, interactivity and exploration and can interact with activities such as a “painting” on a floor-to-ceiling canvas using just their hands. They also can experience a color-
changing room, featuring a light lab experiment that provides the opportunity to combine colors to make white light.

“The Nature of Color” also brings with it three displays that delve more into the specificities of color. “Feeling Color” allows guests to create different pigmented combinations to see how their creation affects their emotions. “Making Color” demonstrates the process of dyeing fabric and the history behind this process. Lastly, “Meaning of Color” teaches guests how colors can create a shared identity and shows this through the color red and its use from cave art all the way to college sports.

For those who have ever pondered the influence of hue on society — from guiding emotions and the way animals interact in nature to the history of color production — “The Nature of Color” aims to answer these explorative questions and showcase the ways that color ultimately influences every aspect of our lives.

“We wouldn’t have colors if it weren’t for physics. We wouldn’t have colors if it weren’t for the evolutionary process. We wouldn’t have colors if it weren’t for the cultural attitudes of people,” said Rob DeSalle, curator of “The Nature of Color” at the American Museum of Natural History, which organized the exhibit. “We’re all seeing a different world of color, and that’s what’s really spectacular.”

Another highlight of “The Nature of Color” is an installation of portraits by Brazilian photographer Angélica Dass, whose work showcases the diversity of human skin tones to challenge socially constructed racial categories and celebrate the beauty and diversity of humans around the world. Also featured is a red chiffon and organza gown by American designer Brandon Maxwell that was created specifically for the exhibit.

Fernbank will celebrate the opening of The Nature of Color with a special family-friendly Discovery Day on February 11, featuring a range of activities that explore color, including a special demonstration with Fernbank’s youth volunteers to creatively paint a life-sized bear model provided by Behr Paint.

The Nature of Color is organized by the American Museum of Natural History, New York (amnh.org).

Local presentation made possible by Behr Paint Company, one of the largest manufacturers of paints, primers, decorative finishes, stains and surface preparation products.


Fernbank is creating a colorful day of family fun with a special Discovery Day from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Feb. 11, commemorating the debut of “The Nature of Color.” This event will have fun activities for all ages and is included with general admission.


“The Nature of Color” is included with general admission at Fernbank and with CityPASS. General admission tickets include three floors of exhibits in the natural history museum, choice of one giant screen film, and 75 acres of nature explorations in Fernbank Forest and WildWoods. Fernbank is located at 767 Clifton Road NE in Atlanta, minutes from midtown
Atlanta and downtown Decatur.

For more information, visit FernbankMuseum.org. General admission tickets are $24.95 for adults, $23.95 for seniors, $22.95 for children ages 3-12, free for children ages 2 and younger, and free for Fernbank Members. These prices are for tickets purchased online at FernbankMuseum.org. Tickets not purchased in advance are offered, if available, at a higher

More information is available at FernbankMuseum.org.

The Interlock Phase two, under construction now, will include a 42,500-square-foot Publix grocery store and an additional 186,000 square feet of office, 40,000 square feet of retail space and Georgia Tech student housing. Photo provided to Decaturish.

– The Interlock celebrates topping out for phase two with the announcement of new first-to-market tenants

Here is the full press release:

ATLANTA, Ga. — Earlier this month, The Interlock celebrated the topping out for phase two of the mixed-use project with an announcement of four new tenants joining its robust lineup.

The new high-end concept Pinky Promise Champagne Bar will make The Interlock its debut location and The X Pot, a one-of-a-kind Korean barbecue and hot pot experience along with nightlife and entertainment, will also enter the Georgia market at the West Midtown mixed-use hot spot. The X Pot currently has other locations and concepts in Las Vegas, Chicago and Los Angeles.

Anchored by a 42,000-square-foot Publix grocery store, phase two of The Interlock will also feature 670 rooms for Georgia Tech student housing, 275,000 square feet of commercial space and limited additional restaurant opportunities.

“These new businesses entering the market first at The Interlock will further enhance the foodie culture and vibrant community already created at phase one,” said Jeff Garrison, partner at SJC Ventures, the developer of both phases. “It’s extremely exciting to see phase two rising as the highest building on Northside Drive and connecting to phase one, which is already activated with incredible offerings. The sprawling mixed-use district that has transformed this corridor is something we are very proud of and know has become a great asset for the community.”

Also joining the lineup are everyday service establishments City Nails and GoodVets, and previously The Interlock announced Starbucks, Kura Revolving Sushi Bar, Salon Lofts and Five Guys.

The private topping out event took place on Nov. 16 and included food, drinks, raffles and more. Attendees also received a commemorative t-shirt to mark the occasion.

“We still have incredible opportunities for another 15,000 square feet of retail space and 185,000 square feet of office space that we are aggressively marketing for currently,” said Justin Latone, senior vice president of leasing for SJC Ventures.

Stream Realty is handling leasing efforts for the office space. The offices are outfitted with View Dynamic Glass, allowing them to automatically tint to let in daylight and reduce glare to provide optimum comfort and a connection to the outdoors. In addition, the windows control heat and glare, which improves a building’s energy efficiency by up to 20 percent.

Construction on phase two of The Interlock started in May 2021. The second phase, built by Choate Construction, plans to offer the same walkability and connection as the first, and both phases will connect via a one-acre public park.

“Choate Construction is honored to be involved with SJC Ventures and PEAK on The Interlock phase two project,” said Britton Miles, project executive for Choate Construction. “We take sincere pride in working with this team who have a knack for generating projects that marry business growth, connectivity, and an improved community experience.”

The Interlock, a $750 million award-winning mixed-use project with unparalleled entertainment, living and dining options, office space and outdoor connections, amenities and parks, welcomed its first tenant openings for phase one in April 2021 with Bellyard hotel and Puttshack. On Howell Mill Road and Beeline Boulevard, the mixed-use, highly amenitized office and entertainment complex has a curated mix of fine dining, fast casual restaurants, retail shopping and entertainment spaces, all capped off by Rooftop L.O.A.

For leasing inquiries for phase two, contact Justin Latone with SJC Ventures at [email protected].

– Metro Atlanta chiropractor Dr. Johnny Garcia was elected to the Georgia Chiropractic Association’s 2022 Board of Directors. 

Garcia was sworn in on Oct. 14. As a board member, he will play a crucial role in shaping and implementing the association’s 2023 strategic plan. He will also be assisting the association and conducting its business, according to a press release.

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, Garcia earned his Bachelors in psychology at Loyola University. For some time he volunteered at the Illinois Masonic Hospital Inpatient Psychiatric Care Floor. After learning of his passion to help those with chronic illness in a holistic way, Dr. Garcia moved to Georgia where he graduated with honors from Life University.

– President Joe Biden has selected the 2022 Presidential Rank Award winners. Michael Craig and Debra Lubar, Decatur residents and executives at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were selected among the winners. 

Craig was selected as a Meritorious Senior Professional Winner in the department of health and human services. Lubar was recognized as a Meritorious Executive Winner in the department of health and human services.

Here is the full press release:

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced the recipients of the 2022 Presidential Rank Awards (PRA), one of the most prestigious awards in the federal career civil service. Chosen by President Biden, the PRAs recognize the hard work and important contributions of dedicated civil servants in the American federal workforce. 

“Last year, we were thrilled that the Office of Personnel Management brought back the Presidential Rank Awards,” said Ronald Klain, White House Chief of Staff. “The President believes strongly in highlighting the accomplishments of federal civil servants and supporting our federal workforce. We look forward to recognizing a new group of distinguished individuals in the career service who consistently produce high quality work and demonstrate an unyielding commitment to public service.”

This year, the President selected 233 winners from 33 federal agencies for their exceptional leadership, accomplishments, and service over an extended period of time. These individuals are all members of the Senior Executive Service (SES), Senior-Level (SL) and Scientific and Professional (ST) corps. 

This year’s recipients are leaders across government, including a Department of Agriculture employee who established a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) distribution program to ensure that front-line USDA employees were protected and could continue to safely perform essential mission-critical functions nation-wide with no interruption in service delivery during the height of the global pandemic; a Department of Energy employee who led the nation’s development of and transition to high efficiency, zero-emissions electric vehicles (EVs) and other technologies that decarbonize the transportation sector and enable more affordable mobility for all Americans; and a NASA employee who is accountable for the mission success of the James Webb Space Telescope, the world’s largest, most powerful space telescope offering a revolutionary full-color image view of thousands of galaxies.

“Each and every day, our federal employees are working to address the nation’s most pressing issues, developing technologies to improve millions of lives, and ultimately, achieving the seemingly unachievable on behalf of the American public,” said OPM Director Kiran Ahuja. “This year’s Presidential Rank Awards reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s support for hardworking civil servants who exemplify strength, integrity, industry, and a relentless commitment to public service through their exceptional leadership, contributions, and accomplishments. From developing programs to ensure front-line workers are protected at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and leading the nation toward zero-emissions technology, to directing a mission to discover new galaxies, this year’s recipients illustrate what’s possible when you work for the federal government. Not even the sky is the limit.” 

For the second year, the entire PRA program was managed virtually. Agencies submitted nominations electronically, and OPM conducted review panels virtually. Historically, in-person review panels have been limited to participants who reside in the Washington, D.C. area. Given the virtual nature of this year’s selection process, OPM was able to expand participation by selecting 100 review-panel members who reside around the world. Virtual participation made it possible to have a broad representation of backgrounds and experiences on the review panels. 

As administrator of the PRAs, OPM develops the criteria for agencies, makes determinations of eligibility, and convenes meetings of PRA Review Boards to evaluate the nominees. The OPM Director then recommends finalists to the President, who selects the PRA recipients. The Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 established the Presidential Rank Awards Program to recognize a select group of career members of senior leaders for exceptional performance over an extended period of time.  

The complete list of the Presidential Rank Awards may be found on OPM’s website. 

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