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when there was little opportunity for women beyond homemaker duties, teaching school or finding secretarial work. It was more fun to be a stewardess, but that did nothing to empower women.

With a prior business effort that didn’t fare well, Richard owned a lease of a well-located property on Piedmont Road in Atlanta’s Buckhead district. Over dinner one night, the Lewis-DeRose team decided to venture into the restaurant business. That is how the first big-time steakhouse in Atlanta came to be. Bone’s will celebrate its 43rd birthday this year. Bone’s flourished as the city flourished and is recognized nationally as one of the finest steak houses in America.

Neither partner had any restaurant experience but developed an auspicious modus operando by interacting with customers. They underscored good relations with employees and have the distinction of seeing many retire, without ever having worked anywhere else.

Today under their company umbrella are two more popular restaurant locations, the Okay Café and the Blue Ridge Grill, both located at the intersection of Northside Parkway and West Paces Ferry Road, only a stone’s throw from I-75 North. A lot of business deals have been brokered over breakfast, lunch and dinner at these Liberty House properties. Good food, good service, good atmosphere and great locations have brought enviable success for Susan and Richard.

Recently, a new venture came about for Richard and Susan. They are principals in a movie which premiered last weekend. “Charming the Hearts of Men,” was filmed in Athens and Madison. It principally stars Kelsey Grammer, whom Susan and Richard met to pitch their movie idea. “It is a heartfelt and unique look at life, family and friendship in a small Southern town, circa 1964, where the centric characters tell all sides of the complex story of race and gender in America.” Susan amplifies on the foregoing: “(It is…) a romantic story thru a political time, playing out in a juke joint, fading plantation life, a whorehouse and the Halls of Congress.”

Susan always wanted to produce a movie, and now it has come to pass. She wrote the script, found a Hollywood producer who saw the merits of her story and helped underwrite the production.

“My family,” she says, “is 5th generation Athenian. My mother married military men, so we moved around, but my summers were always spent in Athens, and I attended Athens High School.”

As a result, Athens plays a significant part of the movie. “Before computers, box scores and sprawling neighborhoods covered farmland, my youth’s America was small towns,” she says. “Everyone knew each other and stayed put, so relationships forged across race and class. We pretty much all got along. I wanted to show this in my film since Hollywood movies typically portray the South differently; to show the richness of the people and of the time. So many interesting characters came into my young life: beauticians, chicken-pluckers, maids, politicians, even prostitutes.”

She then referred to Effie, the well-known madam of the town years ago and how she was introduced. “When I was 16,” Susan explains, “I worked at a jewelry store on weekends. The manager used to open up early on Saturday mornings for Ms. Effie to bring in her girls. They would buy jewelry on layaway. I found them timid and respectful. Effie is the only real character in my story. Everyone else is a composite.”

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