I was sad today to read that Atlanta has lost one of its most colorful characters: Johnny Esposito, founder of the legendary Johnny's Hideaway.
Johnny's Hideaway is one of the last remaining slices of a time filled with dinner and dancing. (OK, I've never had dinner there, but I have been dancing many a time on the parquet floor, with images of screen icons and 90210 stars alike flashing behind me. No, this is not a dream.)
Esposito, 79, died Monay at 79. Atlanta Magazine did this excellent story on his life -- the kind they just don't make anymore. An excerpt:
"For decades, night after night, Esposito, nattily clad in a suit and tie, positioned himself at the first table just inside the front door where he waited to greet each guest as they walked into the Hideaway. With a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other, Esposito went table to table, introducing himself to first-timers and cutting up with the regulars. The Rat Pack era raconteur married and divorced five times and lived to chronicle it. Literally."
The story also includes great details about how he was hanging out with Frank Jr. whe Frank Sr. called him to tell him he'd married Mia Farrow (two decades his junior) and how he catered to Apollo Astronauts while running Florida's Melbourne Beach Casino (oooh, waht I wouldn't do to be there for one night back in the day).
I was just at Johnny's Hideaway a few weeks ago, snagging this memento after dancing with what looked to be cast members from "Fantasy Island."
Stephanie and I snagged these vintage Johnny's champagne bottles, somewhere between dancing to Michael Jackson, watching people from their 20s to the 70s make the scene, and trying to get a table (which we never got; popular spot.)
We've celebrated a lot of things there, in part because it's a place where we feel comfortable, stepping back in time, expecting Lee Majors to walk in at any time. (Though we know better than to get the "Birthday Cake" shots we once favored at a certain point.)
To quote Johnny (from Atlanta Magazine, "I don't wanna die on the couch. I wanna die on the dance floor.") Cheers to him. May he be enjoying a martini with Frank and all the dancing he can imagine.