Diesel: Atlanta's Walking Dead Headquarters

photo credit Peter Ogilvie
Caption
photo credit Peter Ogilvie

Credit: Alexa Lampasona

Credit: Alexa Lampasona

ajc.com

Credit: Alexa Lampasona

Fans of the Walking Dead in Virginia-Highland will likely know about Diesel's Sunday night viewing party. In an effort to combine fan loyalty with fundraising, the bar collects canned goods for the Atlanta Community Food Bank. Last year more than two tons of canned foods were collected, so Diesel began donating directly to the source, a local church called Collins United Methodist.

Since the show’s season has 16 episodes broken up from October to December, and February to April, that gives Diesel plenty of opportunities to host viewing parties each Sunday. Sponsors will donate prizes that guests can win in a raffle, either by bringing in canned goods or purchasing drinks from the beer or liquor sponsor. Five cans earns one raffle ticket.

Justin Haynie, owner of Diesel in Virginia-Highland, has always been a fan of both the Walking Dead comics and the show. It started with season one, where  he just turned on the series every Sunday night for entertainment. Over time, a loyal following developed. Many of the crew members live in a complex near the bar, and through word of mouth on the set, some of the big names from the series began to show up: writers, producers, actors.

“It’s really random when we have the cast members show up. Some of them love to take photos and give autographs,” said Haynie. “ IronE Singleton (who plays T-Dog) came to Diesel to watch the episode that he died in. We had to usher everyone out when we closed at midnight, because he was still there shaking hands and taking photos.”

Each week, Diesel receives at least 400 cans to donate. Now that the bar’s viewing parties have gained popularity, Haynie says on a typical night, it is standing room only. He expects loyal fans could show up as early as 2 p.m. to get a table this Sunday. For premieres and capacities, he says they’ve had to turn down upwards of 100 people.

“I have regulars that bring in at least 60 cans, some even 100 cans, a week. CVS Pharmacy across the street will do a can special for us on Sunday, so we’ve had people bring back shopping carts full,” said Haynie.

Haynie promises that there will be a huge surprise at this Sunday’s premiere. He is excited for the loyal fanbase of regulars to return to their weekly Walking Dead viewing party.

Caption
photo credit Peter Ogilvie

Credit: Alexa Lampasona

photo credit Peter Ogilvie
Caption
photo credit Peter Ogilvie

Credit: Alexa Lampasona

Credit: Alexa Lampasona