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First Draft with Tim Ensor

The My Parents' Basement co-founder talks beer

Before My Parents' Basement opened as "your friendly neighborhood comic book bar" in mid-August, it was a pop-up concept for a couple years. Before that, well, it was all in Tim Ensor's head. "I had a dream," the 36-year-old former Brick Store and Leon's Full Service employee says. "Everybody says that, but it was literally a dream. I was working at a place that was a bar and comic book store, and I remember seeing the marquee outside: 'My Parents' Basement.' I was like, 'This would be the coolest damn place in the world.'"

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He didn't think much of it, even when his Leon's coworker and eventual business partner, Dave DeFeo, agreed that it would indeed be the coolest damn thing. But when a friend's brother in Acworth called and said he was trying to get rid of 25,000 comics in his parents' basement, the dream started becoming reality. Ensor, DeFeo, and MPB's other co-founder, Lawson Wright, started schlepping those books around to beer-centric events at breweries and backyards, raising money for an establishment would eventually take over the old James Joyce Irish Pub space in Avondale Estates.

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Although it's admittedly early to call the place a success, it's been packed nearly every night. When Creative Loafing sat down with Ensor on MPB's busy patio, his head was spinning from a hectic first week — one filled with "Star Wars" Legos, parents buying tons of books to entertain their kids, and local comic industry writers creating future issues at the bar. It's all served to give Ensor further confidence in his vision.

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"I think it's just the same mentality of people, especially when you get into the hardcore nerds of both," he says of beer and comics fans. "You've got your white whales that everyone chases — there are super rare beers and super rare one-off comics. Beer and comics are two of my favorite things, but it's been a real confidence builder to have people tell me, 'This is awesome. I will live here.'"

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Describe your first beer.

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It was probably a Guinness from my two older brothers. They considered themselves beer snobs, drinking Guinness and Newcastle.

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When did beer become something you wanted to work with?

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When I moved to New York at 25, there was a place in Park Slope called Bierkraft. It was a gourmet grocery store that specialized in cheese and craft beer. They had a small deli in there, and I was working as a butcher at a grocery store called Gourmet Garage that I hated, while my wife was working at Bierkraft. The bosses thought it was the coolest thing that I was a butcher — they wanted me at the deli counter. Once I started working there, it was homework — I'd take three beers home at night. That opened up my world.

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It sounds like your time at Leon's is what broke you in to the restaurant world.

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I was mortified. I was a little quieter and reserved back then. That was my first official restaurant job. And working for the guys at the Brick Store and Leon's, that's how I got to this point. If I didn't work there, I wouldn't have the confidence to do what I'm doing now. Those were my mentors, and they run a tight ship. I'm not gonna say I stole their style of service, but I definitely have. laughs

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What's been the biggest surprise of the first week?

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The amount of comics we're actually selling. The first weekend, we pretty much ran out of every kid comic. And we're taking special orders, and the amount of people who have signed up is astronomical. It's all across the board. During the day and on the weekends, it's more kids' stuff. But at night, people are browsing the store, drinking beer, and buying comics. Lots of impulse buys.

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It's almost weird to think that this place didn't exist before now.

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I had two people sitting at the bar today, and they both brought out these Lego "Star Wars" mini-sets, and they opened them up, started building. They brought the Legos to the bar! They were like, "We found out about this place on the Dragon Con website, and we thought this would be a place we could do this and not be judged." And I was like, "No judgment at all, this is awesome!" Dragon Con was promoting us. This has gone viral.

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BEER EVENTS

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The Porter’s 7th Anniversary
?When: Sat., Sept. 12, 11 a.m.-close
?Where: The Porter Beer Bar
?Price: Depends how many rare beers you drink
?The Porter celebrates by serving up hard-to-find brews like Thisted Bryghus’ Limfjords Porter, Creature Comforts’ Barrel-Aged Tart Cherry Paradisio, De Dolle’s Still Nacht 2013, and Orpheus Brewing’s Even the Furies Wept.

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Red Brick Brewing Co.’s 22nd Anniversary
?When: Sat., Sept. 26, 6-9 p.m.
?Where: Red Brick Brewing Co.
?Price: $22
?Attendees of this birthday party for Georgia’s oldest brewery will receive a bomber bottle of a brand new Double IPA, a tour with tastings, live music, and a souvenir tulip glass.

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Malts and Vaults of Oakland: Where Beer Meets History
?When: Sat., Sept. 12, 7 p.m.
?Where: Historic Oakland Cemetery
?Price: $6-12
?Learn about “Atlanta’s long and vivid history of brewing” during this guided walking tour of Oakland Cemetery, followed by a beer sampling from My Friend’s Growler Shop in Grant Park.




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