Love perusing through social media to find out what your favorite influencers are up to? Get a closer glimpse into how they spend their time in Atlanta with “ATL Closeup,” a new AJC feature that explores the leisure lives of some of the city’s most notable personalities as they go from work to play mode over the course of a typical weekend —from their favorite places to dine to the little-known spots where they find retreat.
When R&B singer Sammie strolled into Midtown’s Sivas Hookah Lounge on a breezy Friday afternoon in March, he did so like a familiar face walking into the fictional “Cheers” bar — “where everybody knows your name.”
The swanky lounge just hours earlier had been packed with his closest friends and colleagues. The singer and his squad were there celebrating the release of his fourth studio album, “Everlasting,” and his 32nd birthday.
“I was just here last night,” he said. “This is where I rang in my birthday ... And the deejay is really why I come. They keep the party going. It was all love.”
The crooner’s 32nd birthday was especially momentous. It marked his 20th anniversary in the music industry. The vocalist, born Sammie Leigh Bush, caught everyone’s attention at 12 when he dropped the chart-topping hits “I Like It” and “Crazy Things I Do.”
After gaining fame, he took a break from recording to be a “regular” kid, but music had always been his No. 1 career choice. Once he graduated from high school, he moved to Atlanta with just $400 to his name to pick up where he left off.
“To make my dreams come into fruition, I knew I had to move to either New York, Atlanta or L.A. Atlanta was first on the list,” he said. “I also knew this was the city where I would find myself. This city is where I discovered my manhood. It’s where I became a superstar … And it’s very profound and warming how they welcome you. You would think I was a true Atlien the way they embrace me.”
Since relocating to the metro area more than a decade ago, he’s collaborated with Soulja Boy, Lil Baby, Dallas Austin and others; toured the country with Tank; and partnered with brands like Footaction.
But he doesn’t spend all of his time working. He’s become quite acclimated with the city. Here’s where you’ll likely find the music maker on any given weekend in Atlanta.
Finger-licking good meal
Sammie maintains a healthy diet to keep his body in tip-top shape for performances, but he sneaks in a cheat meal every once in a while. When he’s craving comfort food, he stops by Busy Bee Cafe in southwest Atlanta.
What’s his usual order? He loads his plate with pork chops, macaroni and cheese and collard greens, and he washes it all down with an Arnold Palmer drink.
“After that, I go take a nap,” he laughed. “I’m definitely in a coma for a minute.”
He admittedly doesn’t cook, and his mother, who’s a pro in the kitchen, resides in Florida.
“So I don’t get a lot of home-cooked meals like that,” he said. “When I want that southern hospitality, Busy Bee’s is my spot.”
His top dining pick:
Busy Bee Cafe, 810 Martin Luther King Jr Drive SW, Atlanta. 404-525-9212, thebusybeecafe.com.
On most days, the artist is sporting an Adidas track suit. His style is simple and comfortable, so he’s not big on expensive brands.
“I can go to Lenox and hit Urban Outfitters, and I’m good,” he said. “I can get some cool pieces and a couple of sweatshirts. I love hoodies.”
Award ceremonies, like the Grammys, require a bit more luxe though. For special occasions, he relies on his stylist Myke Sims.
“I love him, because he actually knows my physique. He tailors and customizes everything,” he said. “So when you see me with a piece from a Myke Sims Collection, it’s a one of one.”
His top shopping picks:
Urban Outfitters at Lenox Mall, 3393 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta. 404-264-8849, urbanoutfitters.com/stores/lenox-mall-atlanta.
Zara at Lenox Square, 3393 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta. 404-948-1516, simon.com/mall/lenox-square/stores/zara.
Myke Sims Collection. mykesimscollection.com.
Sivas is easily one of Sammie’s top picks.
“They treat me like royalty when I’m come here,” he said. “The hospitality is awesome, and the food is amazing.”
“I’m not a professional or nothing. I don’t have like a bag and all that, but I like to duck off there sometimes,” he said.
His top party spot pick:
Sivas Hookah Lounge, 794 Juniper St. NE, Atlanta. 404-343-6783, sivasmidtown.com.
Painted Pins, 737 Miami Cir NE, Atlanta. 404-814-8736, thepaintedpin.com.
Midtown Bowl, 1936 Piedmont Cir NE, Atlanta. 404-874-5703, https://midtownbowl.com.
The wind down
With the promotion of his latest album, it’s been hard for him to squeeze in rest and relaxation. However, he always looks forward to going to Natural Body Spa and Shop in Brookhaven for a massage, facial, manicure or pedicure.
“I’m with all that,” he revealed. “They take all my money. They have this ginger tea that’s awesome. They make you inhale these scents and fumes that open you up and relax you at the same time. And they just really care about you. I know I only pay for an hour, but I feel like I’m in there a little longer.”
Although working out is physically taxing, exercising is also “therapeutic” for Sammie. He sweats it out at STACK Sports Performance & Therapy in Underwood Hills
“At first, I was going just to be able to take my shirt off for the ladies on stage,” he confessed. “But now it’s become a therapeutic experience. When I stay away from the gym too long, I feel like a bum.”
His top relax destinations:
Natural Body Spa and Shop, 1432 Dresden Drive #300, Atlanta. 404-816-8801, naturalbody.com/spas-in-brookhaven.
STACK Sports Performance & Therapy, 1232 Collier Road NW, Atlanta. 404-478-6587, stackatl.com.
A couple of years ago, Sammie discovered Ormsby’s in West Side Provisions. The place features a plethora of games, including pool, darts and Connect Four. You can also order food and drinks while you play.
“Every time I go there, it’s a situation on the low,” he said. “I like that. It’s a chill, duck-off spot. It’s a cool place to take a date if you’re into somebody or if you just want to go with a group of friends.”
During one of his visits, his crew went toe-to-toe with another group in a friendly round of bocce. He recalled one of his first visits where he got schooled on the game by watching the experts, but then gave it a try for himself.
“We had like a war. It was my crew against there crew,” he reminisced. “I like when we can all come together to unify, and they do that at Ormsby’s.”
If you go:
Ormsby’s, 1170 Howell Mill Rd, Atlanta. 404-968-2033, ormsbysatlanta.com.
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