All posts by Armaan Jhaveri Nathani

Armaan Nathani is a sophomore at Emory University from New York City intending on majoring in Business with a concentrations in ISOM and Marketing. He serves as the president of the Indian Cultural Exchange and writes for The Emory Wheel and His passion for journalism extends beyond the dissemination and analysis of news, as he wishes to inspire empathetic responses from his readers!

Shield’s Meat Market – Atlanta’s Oldest Meat Shop

Old-time general stores, with their charismatic cashiers and vintage “cha-ching” registers; and barbershops, with their mesmerizing revolving red-blue barber poles and musty astringent smell, both signal the old-school local business era we once knew: when shops emphasized customer service over profit; owners lasted for decades, not years; and business was personal, not expedited and fleeting.

Engulfing CVS Façade
Engulfing CVS Façade

Adjacent to the imposing façade of a CVS drugstore in Atlanta’s Emory Village is a relic of the old-era small business; a butcher shop by the name of Shield’s Meat Market.  Attached to the major retailer’s left hip, Shields’s is seemingly hidden from plain sight like a scar underneath layers of clothing, as its entrance sits inside CVS’s left hand entrance foyer.  To the unacquainted eye, there are few indications of the market’s existence: small decals plastered on the storefront’s glass-face along with the store’s name written on the very top of the building’s structure are similar in color and style to the numerous adjacent CVS logos, making it hard to distinguish between the two at first glance.

Tucked Away
Tucked Away

Yet, while the market is tucked away, it thrives, particularly among local and loyal clientele who habitually frequent the store, undeterred by the looming corporation’s presence.  The reasons for their return are simple: intimate customer service, expert advice, and unmatchable quality of product, guaranteed.

Swinging the door open, customers are played in by the tune of a cackling cowbell attached to the door, an appropriate and rustic signal to their arrival in meat paradise.  Upon entering, a wave of smells inundates patrons, bathing them in the warm scent of eclectic raw meats.  On the left is a refrigerated aisle with four rows, of which the bottom three hold a basic selection of fresh greens, fruits, cheeses, and wine, purposefully placed to tempt customers to purchase the perfect dinner accompaniments to pair with their meats.  The top row is lined with a collection of various craft beers, hand-selected and taste-tested by the owner and further supplemented by helpful ratings.  On the right sits a long, seemingly bottomless freezer-pit filled with a variety of frozen meats and fish, and suspended directly above the pit are freezer cabinets packed with assorted meat patties.  Beyond the freezers stand wooden cabinets on either side, stocked with wine, hot sauces, and pastas.

The store then diverges, the single pathway slicing in an s-formation to the left and narrowing, making space for the prototypical butcher counter. Behind cylindrically curved display glass sits what Shields’s is known for, a diverse selection of quality meat.  Whether it’s beef, poultry, lamb, pork, or even seafood, Shield’s has it.  Poultry delivered three times a week, ice packed, and never frozen by local Georgia company called J&G Poultry Inc. lay nestled in a bed of ice on the left side of the display; home-made Italian sausage links, filled with a secret concoction of spices are stacked into tall coils and laid out in a circular display in the center; and an assorted range of prime aged cheeses fill out the right endpoint of the counter.

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Behind the counter stands a burly, seasoned man, his hair predominantly gray. Spectacles sit atop the bridge of his nose, softening his otherwise tough, steely appearance.  He dons a classic white apron, blue jeans that sag around his ankles, and worn black shoes. The man behind the counter is Geoff Irwin, connoisseur of meats and proud owner of Shield’s Meat Market.

Meat has always been Irwin’s forte.  Carl E. Fassett, the owner of Fassett’s smoked meat shop in Adams Center, New York, trained Irwin after he finished high school, and Irwin credits Fassett’s teachings and expertise to the store’s emphasis on quality and customer service. Irwin’s journey in Atlanta started in 1983. “I arrived with $63 dollars in my pocket … and in about two weeks I was market manager for Mathews Supermarket,” Irwin said.  By 1986, Irwin became the principal owner of Shield’s Meat Market in downtown Decatur after working there for a year. The old store epitomized classical butchery with a butcher-block for precise cuts; sawdust on the floor to absorb moisture, thus making the meat taste better; and suspended cow carcasses displayed to illustrate freshness and classic traditions upheld through life times of experience.


In 2000, Irwin decided to open another Shield’s in Emory Village to increase business; however, while his new location thrived under his watchful eye, the old Shield’s Market had to close much to Irwin’s disappointment, “I tried to run both of them together, but the guys I had running the other store ran it into the ground.”  Nonetheless, Irwin and long time employee Diamond Bardell have tried to replicate the old store’s atmosphere, “This store is similar to the old store; its set up is similar but more modern” Bardell said.  “We try to keep everything the same.”

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Customers affirm Bardell’s claim to uniform high standards even after moving, praising the service as well as quality that Shield’s offers, “Everything he has is quality and Geoff adds a personal touch” regular Lee Alderman said. “He has excellent meat loaf that he’s been making it since 1980.”  Locals Jill Peterson and Elizabeth Bell frequented Shield’s well before it moved to Emory Village and sing nothing but praise for Irwin, “we actually got my son a whole calf for him and his buddies to cut outside, and Geoff arranged for all of that” Peterson said.

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Irwin’s munificent and professional approach to his craft embody the essence of old-era business that once was, and his Meat Market, a vestige in today’s society, should be cherished and enjoyed by all.


Humans of Decatur: Why is Decatur Special?

Inspired by Brandon Stanton’s blog Human’s of New York, which photographs random New Yorkers and includes quotes alongside the photograph, I set out around Decatur to ask strangers what they thought was special about Decatur.  Check out their responses below!

“Decatur is good food, good drinks, good people” – Jeremiah, Barista at Cakes and Ale
Talia Blanchard
"I really like the diversity of the community" - Shakeem
“I really like the diversity of the community” – Shakeem, The Yogurt Tap Employee (White)
“I have had many senior customers who’ve lived in Decatur for a long time like Mayberry in the middle of a big metropolis. It’s very much a small, close-knit community feel but with all the amenities and drawls of a big city that has a lot to offer” – Owner of Vivid Boutique Michael Minga (Aqua Green)
“I love Decatur because of the community as a whole and all the locally owned businesses” – Annette
"What’s so special about Decatur is its sense of community, feels like a very small town." - Squash Blossom Employee Barbra
“What’s so special about Decatur is its sense of community, feels like a very small town.” – Squash Blossom Employee Barbra (Orange)
"Square pub is the best place to hang out after work because it’s close, people are great, and everyone from" - Liz
“Square pub is the best place to hang out after work because it’s close, people are great, and everyone from” – Liz
"My favorite thing about Decatur is HomeGrown, which is a local co-op that has local art from around Atlanta. It’s a way for smaller artists to get their art out to the world at large. We get lots of visitors from out of state and they come to this store and they get to see things that we would have never reached them before" - Cuppy, Employee at HomeGrown
“My favorite thing about Decatur is HomeGrown, which is a local co-op that has local art from around Atlanta. It’s a way for smaller artists to get their art out to the world at large. We get lots of visitors from out of state and they come to this store and they get to see things that we would have never reached them before” – Cuppy, HomeGrown Decatur Employee (Green)
“What I find special about Decatur is the different types of food” – Jordan
“What I find most exciting about Decatur is the architecture, especially the Square” – Spencer

Swoonin’ and Groovin’ in the ATL: Jazz Night in Decatur

Hotlanta’s notorious reputation as the global leader in hip-hop illustrates the city’s affinity to producing quality beats; however, the city has a thriving live music scene catering to various types of music aficionados beyond crankin that Soulja Boy or gettin’ back to Ludacris. A particular gem is Jazz Night in Oakhurst, a neighborhood in Decatur.  Free and open to the public, Jazz Night draws hundreds of curious music lovers during the warm month of April.  Situated at the Historic Scottish Rite courtyard on West Hill Street, concertgoers bring blankets and picnic to lounge and dine in the courtyard among friends and neighbors to enjoy the show.


Imagine sitting with your buddies, drinking a cold brew while listening to melodic saxophone complement a improvisational piano riff as the warm breeze hits your back.  For the most up-close and personal concert experience, consider reserving a front-row table complete with fresh linens, flowers, and candles for $25. Last year, attendees were treated to some of the best Jazz artists in the Southeast.  Though Jazz artists may not have much name recognition, all of the performers are supremely talented and extremely exciting to watch perform.

Check out this short video to hear some of the tunes from last year’s festival:

Check this video out of one of the slotted performers for this year, Audry Shakir:

Deep vibes and soothing tunes create a warm environment, a welcome change from Atlanta’s intense rap scene.  Adventurists seeking new experiences should definitely head to Oakhurst to experience Jazz Night.  All concerts begin at 7 p.m. and end at 9 p.m., leaving you enough time to pursue the wide selection of restaurants Decatur has to offer.



Thursday April 3: Emrah Kotan

Thursday April 10: Jason Passmore

Thursday April 17: Audry Shakir

Thursday April 24: Dan Baraszu & David Ellington


Main Website URL:

Email Contact for Questions: concerts [at] oakhurstjazznights [dot] com

Phone Contact: (404) 370-0888

Address: 321 West Hill St, Decatur, GA 30030