Moe’s & Joe’s

Atlanta, Georgia

Johnnie's Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Exterior

In Short

Opened in 1947, Moe’s & Joe’s in the Virginia Highlands neighborhood of Atlanta has shown an admirable reluctance to change since that time despite expansion of the space nearly 70 years later. Perhaps more impressive is the dive bar’s status as top-selling outpost of PBR by volume nationwide, responsible for two full kegs sold every day (that’s 330 12-ounce pours).

Field Rating

8

out of 10

PBR king among dive bars is no small feat.

Field Note

What was once called the Virginia Highlands Delicatessen was transformed in 1947 by two brothers named, you guessed it, Moe & Joe (Krinsky), creating what is today one of Atlanta’s great dive bars and one of this country’s most ardent supporters of Pabst Blue Ribbon. The devotion to PBR is visual, persistent and comprehensive, from the signage to the wall art to the weekly Tuesday special. This ignorant reviewer sat down at the bar in the original side of the space and ordered a PBR, not knowing that $3.50 special night meant ordering a PBR meant ordering a PBR pitcher.

And if that isn’t a happy accident in the field of reviewing dive bars, I’m not sure what qualifies. This classic portion of the bar dates back to that 1947 opening date, its devotion to all things PBR a staple since that time. A second half to Moe’s & Joe’s was created via expansion into what was once the bar next door in 2014, doubling the square footage and providing a fresh canvas. Mercifully, the new owners that sought the expansion had the foresight to sequester any improvements or changes to this new space, leaving the original footprint of Moe’s & Joe’s intact.

Upon banning smoking in the establishment around that same time, the focus of the space shifted a bit, allowing for a greater spotlight on the food.

Upon banning smoking in the establishment around that same time, the focus of the space shifted a bit, allowing for a greater spotlight on the food given the expanded clientele drawn to a smokeless hole-in-the-wall like this Atlanta dive bar. A cursory glance at reviews attached to Moe’s & Joe’s reveals a long list of accolades for the food, including a particular affinity for the wings that date back almost as far back as the dive bar itself. In a gentrified portion of Atlanta on a fun block filled with bars, Moe’s & Joe’s has soaked in a bit of refreshed appeal without sacrificing the authenticity that comes with opening in 1947.

And that authenticity lines every inch of space within Moe’s & Joe’s, starting with the massive neon sign over the original bar bearing the name of the preferred beer of the house. Cataloging every bit of PBR-related memorabilia throughout the space is a fool’s errand, though there are notable standouts in the large mural at the back of the original space, a freshly-minted (relatively) new mural on the new side of the bar, a PBR-themed claw game called “Grab a Can” and a full complement of beer sign neon and PBR-imprinted vintage signs.

All of this PBR love has manifested in some serious achievement as PBR named Moe’s & Joe’s as the number one seller of PBR by volume nationwide based on the dive bar’s 2020 performance. One might wonder just how much PBR has to be sold to achieve such a distinction and the numbers are fairly staggering. Over the course of 2020, Moe’s & Joe’s averaged two full kegs of PBR every day, the equivalent of 330 12-ounce pours every day. To be sure, $3.50 pitcher night provides a boost to the numbers, but even with that considerable bonus, that’s a ton of PBR.

Among the PBR visual assault lives the bones of a space that is easy to envision as the spiritual successor to the delicatessen that previously occupied this spot.

Among the PBR visual assault lives the bones of a space that is easy to envision as the spiritual successor to the delicatessen that previously occupied this spot. The tiled floors, the red-benched booths that line both walls of the original room, the classic cash register, the curved mirrors long covered up by distributed layers of stickers. The area directly behind the original bar features a particularly intense set of memorabilia, making its area the obvious candidate for best seat in the house.

The new half of Moe’s & Joe’s opened in 2014 sits in stark contrast to its neighbor, fresh paint, fresh fixtures, new wood, an almost minimalist look in comparison. The PBR theme continues here, but in a toned down style, relegated to the mural previously mentioned, blue paint throughout and a handful of signs. The beer selection ventures into some slightly more adventurous territory in this half of the Moe’s & Joe’s world and the vibe is much more standard, modern pub rather than vintage dive bar. Both side of the bar are supported by outdoor sidewalk seating, just enough space for a couple of rows of circular tables looking out onto one of the nicer neighborhood streets in Atlanta.

It would be hard to argue with Moe’s & Joe’s dive bar status based on its 1947 opening date alone, but the persistence among the Atlanta dive bar’s new owners to preserve the past while expanding for the future cements its status. The fact that the equivalence of 330 12-ounce PBRs are sold here every day only provides added ammunition to the bar’s status as must-visit among Atlanta options, with a very clearly mandate on what to order and what day (Tuesday) to visit.

Photos

The Basics

1033 North Highland Avenue Northeast
Atlanta, GA 30306

Classification:
Neighborhood Bar

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