Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Belissima exterior


Location: 560-B Amsterdam Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Opened: Spring 2008

Closed: January 11, 2012

Here's the lady's coy self-introduction on Myspace:

We are located in the heart of midtown in the old 'Miss Q's' space in Amsterdam Walk off Monroe Drive, around the corner from Piedmont Park. You have to see it to believe it! Bellissima is a Beautiful Lounge where everyone is welcome! Available for private events, and meetings.

Well, that tells us...nothing.

We read on:

Bellissima is a great venue where the guys and girls party together! FINALLY.... What Atlanta has been missing! What a face lift! We are so excited to present to you... Bellissima!

Okay. So we're a mixed place? (As if there were a shortage of places "where the guys and girls party together." Since when?) Not only that, we're a mixed place with a lot of exclamation marks!!!

But wait!!! Buried in one of the ads dotting the MySpace page is the following line:

VOTED "BEST PLACE TO MEET WOMEN" (Turns out that was in 2010.)

Hmm. Let's just say our identity is a bit, uh, conflicted? Not unusual among (ostensibly) lesbian bars, where attracting paying male customers is not only considered highly profitable but desirable, given that Dudes are so much higher in the Kewl Factor that just gals are.

I'd pass this by as a women's bar, except that other parties DO identify it as a lesbian space. Which is a strange phenomena we've seen before with lesbian bars. Maybe it's akin to the woman who is deeply closeted about being gay, even while all her friends know.

Anyway, here's an early review from Andrew Collins at And he definitely uses the "L" word:  

A swish new spot east of Piedmont Park on Amsterdam Avenue (on the right, before you get to the large building that contains Amsterdam the gay sports bar), Bellissima is just the elegant but totally fun lesbian bar that Atlanta had been lacking. The spacious club with a nice-size dance floor draws a steady mix of well-coiffed, stylish women (and more than a few gay guys who appreciate the cool vibe), tending toward the under-30, professional set. A variety of theme events (Latin nights, '80s retro parties) keep things interesting. Bellissima has quickly become not only one of the hot spots in town but also one of the country's most happening lesbian clubs.

Aol Travel also clearly identifies Belissima as a lesbian space:

Bellisima is another hidden gem in the Amsterdam Avenue complex and among the hip Atlanta gay scene. Unlike other popular lesbian bars like My Sisters Room in East Atlanta, Bellisima is not a place you would stumble upon unless you were looking for it. This wine and tapas bar has an eclectic and cool vibe with artwork adorning the walls, an extensive wine list and a variety of decent small bar plates. The best part of Bellisima besides the bevy of beauties cued up at the bar, is the strong drinks served up by the more than hospital bartenders who are not afraid to give you an extra kick in your cocktail.

As does this little blurb from Atlanta Magazine:

Bellissima With an interior design fond of vine motifs and ovular light fixtures, this lesbian lounge has DJ Duck on Saturdays and serves the best cocktails. Ask for bartender Toni and order a fruity, whiskey-based Group Hug.

But the owner couldn't keep it happening in a good way. Or at least had lost the desire to keep it happening in a good way. As Project Q reported back in November 2011:

Bellissima, a smoke-free Midtown mainstay of lesbian nightlife for more than three years, is up for sale as its owner seeks a respite from the grind of operating at bar hours and the gyrations of a troubled economy. Anna Ragghianti says that after three years of nightlife fun – from hosting Bedlam to comedy shows, drag shows, gay business mixers and her usual mix of lesbians seeking cocktails and dance – she’s ready to move on, travel and work on film projects she’s otherwise had to take a pass on.

“It is a great location and I think the community needs something like Bellissima,” Ragghianti says.

“Whoever bought it could open it pretty quickly and not dump a lot of money or time into it. My heart wants to keep it in the gay community.”

The bar, which opened in spring 2008, has been up for sale “for some time,” Ragghianti says, but she recently reduced the price to $79,000. She doesn’t own the property on which the bar sits in Amsterdam Walk, so the price tag comes with an additional $4,000 monthly rent.

And then on January 11, 2012, it was announced that Bellissima was closed:

Anna Ragghianti, owner of the now shuttered Bellissima, announced on Facebook Wednesday her nightclub of three years has closed.

Ragghianti told Project Q in November, she was going to sell the bar because she wanted “to move on, travel and work on film projects she’s otherwise had to take a pass on.”

Today, Ragghianti informed her most loyal followers that she was unable to sell Bellissima due to issues with securing a lease for a potential purchaser.

Bellissima interior (2010)
“We were excited to have a contract with a new owner who planned to take rains as soon as possible, keeping it as Bellissima,” Ragghianti said in the Facebook post. “Unfortunately, Halpern Enterprises has informed us that they will not sign a lease with the new owner.”

Halpern Enterprises is Amsterdam Walk’s developer and Bellissima’s landlord.

“Bellissima is now closed and will not re-open at the Amsterdam location,” Ragghianti said. “I will be considering all options moving forward and will post any updates on this Bellisssima Facebook Fan page.”

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