University of Georgia students and residents of Athens gathered at the famous Hendershot’s cafe and bar on Tuesday night for an evening filled with drinks and meaningful conversation at the No Phone Party.
At a time when screen-based communication has become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional face-to-face interaction, the No Phone Party has allowed customers to disconnect from the online world and plug into the moment in front of them. The event takes place every Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Hendershot’s not only provided a variety of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages for guests at the event, but also provided an ambience conducive to intimate conversation.
From quiet coffee drinkers admiring the showcase of local art to those enjoying a cocktail and a laugh with friends, the event apparently had something for everyone.
“Our community as a whole is very large. We just get a bit of everything. This place is definitely a place for city dwellers, but we also get tons of students,” said Hendershot manager Will Kissane.
The No Phone Party was born in October 2021, two months after the reopening of the establishment following an interruption due to the pandemic. The No Phone event was an opportunity for locals to dive back into the water of public events after months of social distancing.
The weekly event has since morphed into a gathering of people from all walks of life to celebrate the diversity of the Athens community and enjoy each other’s company uninterrupted from an SMS notification.
Claiming real estate in the historic Bottleworks development on the popular Prince Avenue corridor, Hendershot’s is easily accessible from the heart of downtown Athens, yet is far enough away to maintain a unique atmosphere.
“[This area] has charm. Bottles [development] is a small pocket unlike the rest of Athens; there is always an element of the old school of Athens,” Kissane said.
“[Hendershot’s] is such an interesting and dynamic environment. You can come here and it will always be something different. It really is a community thing; it’s ‘the whole’ spot,” Kissane said. “It’s a safe space where everyone is welcome and people can really tell when they walk in.”
The No Phone Party is not advertised on social media as this contradicts the intent of the event. Instead, information is spread the old-fashioned way: by word of mouth. This allows for an authentic crowd of attendees who really enjoy the sentiment behind the Tuesday night rallies.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or how much money you have; Everyone is welcome. We try to tear down the things that separate people and [create a space] for people to talk, work, rejuvenate or just sit and be,” said owner Seth Hendershot.
While the restaurant typically hosts live music or comedy most nights, Tuesday nights are a little more low-key, providing a space where people can focus on each other instead of a show.
“You just have to come and feel it for yourself. When you are here you can understand how authentic this place is, how much soul this place has. You have to be in a place long enough to build that scene, create a mood, and build a soul. Hendershot’s is made up of people who have been coming here for a long time,” Kissane said.
Hendershot’s is extremely community-oriented, especially for those looking for new friendships and relationships. Athens resident and Romanian immigrant Lucian Horescu said the cafe gave him a place to “have coffee, chat and meet other poetry lovers.”
“Because it’s a cafe, bar and event space, it’s a great community place. We have organized fundraisers, weddings and funerals. It’s commonplace,” Hendershot said.
Locals can stop by Hendershot’s any Tuesday night between 6 and 9 p.m. if they’re looking for an evening of conversation and a drink to top it off.