The James Joyce/Hail Mary Becomes the Avondale Arms -- For Now

The pub will soon become the Brewhouse Cafe in Avondale Estates -- or something like that, the owner says.

Avondale Estates' most popular watering hole is having an identity crisis.

The establishment known for years as the and for the last two-and-half months as The Hail Mary sports bar started calling itself the Avondale Arms last weekend.

That won't last long, owner Denise Gerard said Sunday night.

Gerard, who also owns the popular Brewhouse Cafe in Little Five Points, said the Avondale pub will adopt a similar name soon. It will keep elements of a sports bar, such as multiple television sets, she said.

What happened?

The James Joyce opened in 2002 and had a loyal following. It stopped operating under that name in late September, .

It opened a few days later as The Hail Mary and had a ribbon cutting attended by the city commission.

The Hail Mary in Avondale was modeled after and run by the Hail Mary sports bar in Grayson. Gerard said the folks who run the Hail Mary had planned to take over with a long-term lease in January.

"Last week we met and they said, 'We can't do that,' " Gerard said.

Gerard started running the pub again, needed a new name quick and went with the Avondale Arms.

She said she immediately changed the menu, using many dishes from the Brewhouse Cafe in Little Five Points. Business was good over the weekend, she said.

She'll said she'll need to nail down a name before January when liquor licenses are renewed.

"Everybody says you should call it the Brewhouse in Avondale," she said.

Patch telephoned the manager of the Hail Mary Sunday and left a voice message, but didn't get a call back.

 Gerard said the Brewhouse Cafe in Little Five Points has a large following of soccer and rugby fans. She hopes some of them will come to Avondale Estates, especially fans with children.





Julia Ewen December 20, 2011 at 01:07 PM
Avondale Arms might "fly". Brewhouse in Avondale sounds like what it is--a derivative, outsider. We need something that like the Joyce was uniquely and locally ours--not a cookie cutter copy. I hope the new name and menu will bring us some edible food. The Hail Mary just didn't care what it put on the table other than beer. When are we going to get a place in Avondale Estates where we can get something besides burgers, sandwiches, wings and pizza and actually have a converation with our dinner partner? The Joyce provided that as well as having the screens for those who like sports.
Barbara Barth December 20, 2011 at 01:54 PM
I went to have dinner at the James Joyce Tavern a few weeks ago and was horrified about the changes. I loved the old James Joyce. It was fun, a great meeting place and the food delish. I liked to sit on the patio, have a glass of wine, and read a book and felt comfortable going by myself. Some nights it was loud with trivia, etc, but sitting outside with the fireplace going made it a truly romantic experience, even with just one. Please try to recreate your old ambiance and menu. I decided I would not go back after my last visit. I have a little hope I may be able to eat there again after reading this article. Don't muck it up!
Keith December 20, 2011 at 03:59 PM
The James Joyce was a good place to go for a pint but the food was always spotty the only other thing that was consistent was the foul odor in the bar, the smell was a hodgepodge of piss and old beer which often times forced my party to sit on the patio or just not want to go. The Hail Mary was a welcomed change just in terms of smell, otherwise it was good but standard bar food. Going to a place for a pint is great but with the beer growler one can get great beer and go home and drink. There are not many good eateries in Avondale and an establishment that offers more than the bar experience will fare well and benefit the community greatly.
S.A. December 21, 2011 at 04:41 PM
Sorry to hear the news. The Hail Mary offered great beer, great food, a clean establishment and great sports environment. Im sure it will not take long for the foul odor to return, sounds like it already has.
Barbara Barth December 21, 2011 at 05:44 PM
Oh my, I have to recomment. I sat at tables inside and on the patio at the James Joyce and loved every visit. My food was good. Service great. And it had a bit of a romantic touch for me on the patio, all season long. I miss it. The black and bleu salad and a glass of wine perfect.
Julia Ewen December 22, 2011 at 04:38 PM
I like to give folks a second chance so last Tuesday I revisited the former Hail Mary in its new incarnation as Avondale Arms. The sound on the TV screens had been turned down allowing conversation at the table, and the new menu has more dinner items, and they have brought back the daily evening dinner special. My companion ordered it: pasta chicken florentine(with alfredo style sauce) and she was very pleased with it. I ordered the fish and chips and the fish was good as I remember from the Joyce. The owner spoke with us and said that all the food is being cooked fresh to order in the kitchen and as she gets the cooks trained there will be more dinner items. A lot of the "food" that the Hail Mary served was commercially frozen and dumped into the fryer. However, the new name they are considering, "Brewhouse at Avondale" still keeps emphasis on the beer, which IMHO does not bode well for families or single women, who maybe don't want to just hang out and get drunk. It also makes the place sound like just another chain. I think the development plans for Avondale want the emphasis to be on our local uniqueness, not commercial "me-to-ism". The owner does seem like she wants to keep the locals coming in and has responded positively to input. I hope she will keep going in the direction of fresh local produce and cooked-from-scratch food.
James Garcia December 22, 2011 at 05:13 PM
Long time patron under both names. I throughly enjoyed Joyce back in the day when it was young (back when Buffy ran it)...but honestly in the last few years it had become apparent (which was further proven true by them dumping joyce) that the owners no longer really cared or wanted to be part of Joyce. Food changed from being very good cooked meals to being standard bar food....if even that. Enter new owners. Everything is the exact same as before except with new food choices, more TVs and new serving staff (who have been great so far.) I have to say that while I expected to not like HM I was convinced otherwise and have been very happy. The owners and staff have been great. Actually took the time to know me, my wife and all of our friends. I will be sad to see them go. All I am asking as an AE resident is that if you take the Joyce over again, take it over and show that it's a pub that you care about not just a building you have to pay rent on.
Karla Schell January 01, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I miss the good ol' James Joyce, the neighborhood atmosphere and a good place to meet friends after work. The too loud TV's and standard bar food are not really what we need here in our community. We can get that anywhere! I have been sorry to see all the changes; not all for the better. I hope that we get a return to good tasting, fresh food and drink again.
Julia Ewen January 06, 2012 at 02:10 AM
The new sign is up: Avondale Arms Sports Pub. I still say "sports pub" is the wrong image to attract the locals from Avondale Estates and Decatur. Just call it the Avondale Arms, and in old fashioned pub style, include on the sign a picture of a tankard and a dish of food to let folks know it's a food and drink establishment. You can keep the big screen TVs for the sports fans. Just keep the volume low enough that the rest of us can talk to the "one who brung us". Maybe Irish isn't "in" any more, but the sports bar has also had its day. What with satellite TV in every home and the Growler selling beer in large take-home containers, home offers greater comfort and the same food and grog without the drawback of driving home drunk. We don't want a drinkers' hangout. We want a family-oriented place that will serve good moderate priced dinners and lunches as well as the snacks and bar food for those who just drop in for "one" and an update on what the team is doing. We don't mind sharing the space with people interested in sports, but MUST it be the main focus? Single ladies and older people have the money and time to go out to eat. Those on the beer and wings budtet, not so much these days. Some market rethinking might be in order.
David February 06, 2012 at 06:27 PM
I went back to the Joyce after a long time not going there, because of how bad the wait staff were. On my seonc visit to the Hail Mary I saw the manager and the staff having shots of Jaegermeister while on duty. On the 3rd visit, it was so cold in there because the doors were all open and a cold breeze was blowing through. I made the observation and bartender ignored me. When I finally said somehting directly, he said didn't you see I was busy? I havent been back there since.
David February 06, 2012 at 06:30 PM
The hot brown was good at the Hail Mary
David February 06, 2012 at 06:49 PM
Don't expect Gerald to care about what we say. WE've sent lettters directly to her about problems at her bar. She never responded and never did anything to change things.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something