Up on the Roof at Republic Social House

Last week, during the grand opening of Republic Social House, party people endured the hellish summer heat to get a little closer to heaven, high up on the rooftop deck.

Others, they found, had the same idea. Looking to the right or left, up and down Memorial Drive, they could see similar crowds, eating, drinking and having big fun outside on rooftop decks at Six Feet Under and Tin Lizzy’s.

“I never would have considered doing this place, if I couldn’t have put a rooftop deck on it,” Republic owner Terry Barbu said. “I really thought that synergy needed to be here.

“What we’re seeing is that this is becoming a great area to go from bar to bar to bar. Everyone has good food, but each place is a little different, and that makes a great scene. I think it’s a great thing for the rest of Atlanta to discover.”

Barbu certainly knows what makes a scene. The 45-year-old Cleveland, Ohio, native set out to be an artist. But after years of making ends meet as a bartender and a bar manager, he emerged in the mid-’90s as a successful, and sometimes controversial, nightclub impresario, with a string of bars in Cleveland's Warehouse District.

“I realized you can create a space and be really artistic,” Barbu said. “It’s my belief that if you design a great space, it’s as good as any advertising.”

Since taking a consulting job in Atlanta in 1999, and later moving to Inman Park, Barbu has had a hand in designing and building a number of clubs and restaurants here, including Opera, Graveyard Tavern, Top Flr , the Nook and, most recently, Sound Table.

His design at Republic makes creative use of reclaimed wood fashioned from trees that were downed during the 2008 Atlanta tornado — including a massive table cut from a white oak that once stood across the street in Oakland Cemetery.

But up on the roof is where Barbu expended much of his money and energy.

Done-up in cedar, the look splits the difference between hip and comfy. The 125-seat space, softened with planters and a pair of potted Chinese elms, might be a neatly landscaped backyard patio — except that the blaring rock music and young crowd bellying up to the bar quickly dispels that notion.

Like Six Feet Under and Tin Lizzy’s, Republic has impressive views of the idyllic Oakland Cemetery gardens and the soaring Atlanta skyline beyond. But rooftop bars and restaurants in other parts of city take advantage of different multimillion-dollar vantage points.

Besides Republic’s rooftop, Barbu’s favorite is 11 Stories at the Glenn Hotel.

“That’s a great rooftop deck,” he said. “It’s a really fun hangout and it’s not too expensive.”

Republic Social House, 437 C Memorial Drive, Atlanta, 404-577-3997, www.republicsocialhouse.com

Here’s a glimpse of a some other rooftop scenes.

Six Feet Under-Grant Park, 437 Memorial Drive, Atlanta, 404-523-6664; and Six Feet Under-Westside, 685 11th St., Atlanta, 404-810-0040, www.sixfeetunderatlanta.com

Six Feet Under has two Atlanta locations, near Grant Park and on the Westside, and both have sky-high rooftop decks with cool views, all kinds of seafood and good craft beer lists.

Tin Lizzy's, 415 Memorial Drive, Atlanta, 404-554-8220, www.tinlizzyscantina.com

Tin Lizzy’s serves up bargain-priced Tex-Mex food and drink to the penny-pinching masses, but looking out from the rooftop (once home to Six Feet Under) makes it seem more expensive.

11 Stories at the Glenn Hotel, 110 Marietta St. N.W., Atlanta, 404-521-2250, www.glennhotel.com

Swanky without being pretentious, 11 Stories downtown has breathtaking views that stretch back to Buckhead and beyond, and the small plates and drink specials make it surprisingly reasonable.

AltoRex Rooftop Lounge, 866 W. Peachtree St., Atlanta, 678-412-2402, www.altorexlounge.com

This posh open-air terrace adjacent to Hotel Palomar in Midtown offers secluded views of the surrounding skyline, with creative cocktails and nibbles by Pacci Ristorante chef Keira Moritz.

Sun Dial Bar and View, 210 Peachtree St., Atlanta, 404-589-7506, www.sundialrestaurant.com

Of course, it’s not a rooftop deck, but the panoramic view, rotating cocktail lounge and jazz combo that’s often on hand make it one of Atlanta’s great date and tourist destinations.

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