While it is no secret that Atlanta is home to many entrepreneurs, especially within the Black community, there are some people who rise above the expectations of a typical business owner.
One of those people is Mychel “Snoop” Dillard, a serial entrepreneur from Nashville who made Downtown Atlanta her business playground.
Co-owner of Escobar Lounge on Peter Street and the former owner of Hookah Hideaway on Jesse Hill Drive, the 34-year-old has a knack for taking downtown properties and flipping them into highly profitable businesses.
“I just feel like downtown is where the money is,” Dillard said. “People are less likely to ride out to Decatur, Lithonia, or Alpharetta, but as long as it’s in downtown Atlanta, everybody going to come to the hub.”
And while her impressive portfolio of businesses boasts feats in hospitality, beauty, and technology, Dillard’s latest project is Members Only Lounge, an exclusive venue on Ralph McGill Blvd. which opened at the end of April.
“It’s an exclusive nightlight venue for Atlanta’s celebrities, socialites, and business owners,” Dillard said. “What inspired me to create Members Only was just living in Atlanta and seeing how everyone wants this VIP lifestyle treatment.”
Adorned with luxurious fixtures, designer furniture, and a desirable atmosphere, Dillards says that Members Only is a refuge for Atlanta’s upper echelon to have a break from the city’s typical nightlight scene; which is also shown through the menu.
“Most of the menus for Black nightlife venues, restaurants, and lounges either have wings, fried fish, greens, and other typical foods,” Dillard said.
“Here we’re trying to do something a little bit different.”
“We have the black-eyed pea hummus, shrimp and scallop ceviche, edamame, and lamb chops. We want to be able to cater to everyone’s palettes and introduce people to some new things.”
For 90 days Dillard has allowed the public access to Members Only but afterward, the venue will only be accessible to members.
Right above the lounge is another one of Dillard’s businesses, Remedy Spa & Salon Suites. An attempt to into the highly profitable health and beauty industries, Remedy Spa and Salon is equipped with 15 fully leased salon suites.
Dillard says that her goal is to not only occupy the entire building with her business but one day own it.
For most of her life, Dillard has been building profitable businesses, honing in on her skills to create concepts and bring them to life.
“I’m very strategic about how I do things,” Dillard said “I have a really big team. I got someone who helps does all my permits, and an architect on deck.”
“I have all of those pieces to the puzzle that comes just from failing in the past and not having those things, knowing next time I do something I need to have such-and-such.”
Prior to moving to Atlanta nine years ago, Dillard had made a name for herself in Nashville as a financial advisor and a nightlife entrepreneur.
The Vanderbilt University graduate was a DJ and threw parties while in school, but while working in finances, after graduation, she was able to open her first establishment.
“I opened up my first club when I was 24 in Nashville,” Dillard said.
“The only job I’ve ever had was being a financial advisor for American Express. I was 20 when I graduated so I was a financial advisor at 20 and 21.”
Later on, she moved to Atlanta for a fresh start and better business opportunities.
“(Atlanta) is just a good place for whatever it is that you may want,” Dillard said. “For me it was a bigger community of Black people, coming from Nashville where the population of African Americans there was about 22 percent.”
“I’m a lesbian woman, so being able to have a bigger dating pool was very important, and a better quality of life.”
And four years after she relocated Dillard opened Hookah Hideaway.
“Hookah Hidaway was more of a starter spot,” Dillard said. “I was there for five years.”
“I actually closed Hookah Hideaway on December 31 of last year to be able to focus on bigger projects. I pretty much felt like I did what I was supposed to do when it came to that spot.”
Before ditching Hookah Hideaway, Dillard set her sights on having a business on Peter Street, which also opened the doors to the best business partnership that she ever had.
“When I first I moved here, I had lived over in Castleberry Hill,” Dillard said. “I would always walk to Peter Street and say, ‘I would love to have something over there.’”
Her desire led to Dillard contacting her realtor and placing an application with a location. However, after a trip to Jamaica, both her personal and business lives would simultaneously be impacted by two completely different events.
“I went on a trip, came back and I got arrested going through customs,” Dillard said. “I had a warrant for my arrest.”
It seems as though one of Dillard’s former ventures was a publication that was distributed throughout the southeast. She says that her former manager basically stole the business from under her; teaching Dillard the importance of keeping an eye on her business.
“The last few checks I had wrote to the printing company had bounced,” Dillard said. “But the checks were a little bit over $5000 so that made it a felony.”
While waiting to be extradited to Nashville, Dillard says she received a call alerting her that the property that she applied for would not allow her to have a lounge.
However, the was another property further down where she had a chance.
“He told me that its owned by a popular rapper in Atlanta,” Dillard said. “I was like, ‘Oh Lord, who is it going to be.’”
“When he said 2 Chainz I got excited because I was a fan of 2 Chainz at that time and I thought that he was smart.”
After four days, Dillard says she was shipped to Nashville and brought back to Atlanta by one of her employees; allowing her to sit with 2 Chainz the next day.
“I was nervous and excited because I knew the difference that this could have on my life and my carer and financially,” Dillard said. “Immediately within five minutes, we had a connection with each other.
“It took us almost two years to get Escobar open.”
Established in 2016, Escobar Lounge has developed into one of the nightlife staples on Peter Street, and with 2 Chainz owning the property, it is unlikely that any pending new developments will impact the business.
“With Escobar, we want to continue to work on extending everything through our patio,” Dillard said. “We have space to do a rooftop so that one of the big things.
“We’re also looking into franchising Escobar as well.”
However, while Members Only is up and running, and Escobar Lounge continuing to thrive, Dillard’s attention is now on Crave.
Crave is another restaurant-lounge concept in Little 5 Points, it will be similar to Escobar,” Dillard said. “I will open at noon every day, we’ll have brunch on the weekends, it will turn into that loungy vibe at night.”
Dillard says that she was able to complete most of Crave while she was still working on Members Only; using slow periods to step away from the exclusive venue. She intends on having Crave open this coming July.
“I want to play off the name Crave and have different food items from different parts of the country,” Dillard said, “For example, I might have beignet or crawfish from New Orleans or Nashville I’ll have the hot chicken.”
In the meantime, Dillard is also exploring the technology sector through her app GirlTalk, which caters to LGBT women. She says that she wants to create a better online dating experience for women like herself.