Jamie Bendall, co-owner of the Punchine Comedy Club off Roswell Road, says the establishment is relocating.

Jamie Bendall, co-owner of the Punchine Comedy Club off Roswell Road, says the establishment is relocating.

The Punchline Comedy Club moved into its location in the Balconies shopping plaza in 1982. The Brickery restaurant moved in right across Hilderbrand Drive in 1992.

Decades later, the two establishments off Roswell Road are fixtures in the Sandy Springs community. They are also exploring moves as a direct reaction to plans for new development in the
area.

On Jan. 8, the comedy club’s owners announced that they would be moving from their location by April.

“We’re exploring a range of options,” Punchline co-owner Jamie Bendall said.

“We have very much enjoyed being a part of the Sandy Springs community, and really being a fixture here in Sandy Springs. I’m hopeful that some of the opportunities that we are pursing will allow us to be able to
stay.”

The Punchline, the metro area’s longest running comedy club, has a storied history, with hundreds of pictures lining its walls of performers who have worked there, including now big-name comics such as Jerry Seinfeld, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor and Jay
Leno.

The Brickery also has become a neighborhood institution. It draws more than 400 customers on a Friday night. The restaurant has nearly 8,000 subscribers to its email blast of weekly specials. Owner Bruce Alterman says if the email doesn’t go out promptly at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night, he gets dozens of phone calls asking
about it.

Bruce and his wife Sally say they are determined to keep the Brickery open somewhere in Sandy Springs, whether they have to move from their location because of development, are able to remain put a little while longer, or even if they decide to find a business partner to help with the
transition.

For Bendall, the decision to move isn’t a result of anything immediate happening in the plaza where the Punchline is located. Rather, it’s a reaction to nearby planned developments.

With a seating capacity of 270, “We have significant parking needs,” he said. With planning shows six months in advance along “with some of the redevelopment going on around us, it has a significant impact on customers’ parking. There will be periods of disruptions, and from our standpoint it became a question of how do you manage those
disruptions.”

For the Altermans, they may not have a choice. The property where they lease the space for the Brickery is under contract with a developer that wants to build a mixed-use
complex.

Sandy Springs adjusted its zoning ordinance on Jan. 20 to allow for smaller lot sizes for mixed-use developments, which may clear the way for the developer’s plans on the 5.11 acre site.

Neither the Altermans nor Bendall see themselves as victims, though. With plans for the City Center coming along, the city is working to attract developers who will line Roswell Road with a quality mix of retail, residential units and office space.

“It’s a reminder the only constant is change,” Bendall said. “Change in Sandy Springs is driven by elected officials trying to set the city on the right path for successive generations. That kind of development is distinct from more traditional gentrification or economic opportunism.

“If it were something where the big, bad developer comes in and kicks out mom and pop shops, it would be different, but everything happening here is a concerted effort to benefit Sandy Springs. It makes it easier to understand and want to be a
part of.”

Sally Alterman stresses that she and her husband are not victims. “The handwriting has been on the wall for 10 years, that this shopping center is a prime location for
redevelopment.”

Her husband, Bruce, says that he hopes the city attracts unique, independent shops and restaurants rather than big box chains. He hopes rents will remain reasonable so that the couple can afford to keep the Brickery open.

“We’ve got the highest confidence that the city is going to make the right decisions,” he said. “Can we be part of it? Stay
tuned.”

See also: After 23 years, local icon Brickery grapples with change 

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