During the week that he witnessed the Midtown space that for 15 years housed his longtime independent gay and lesbian bookstore open as a restaurant and lounge, Philip Rafshoon has taken on a new literary challenge.
Earlier this year, financial hard times caught up Rafshoon’s Outwrite Bookstore & Coffeehouse and he was forced to shutter its doors for good.
But if there’s something the Midtown businessman knows, it is books, and that is evidenced by this week’s announcement that the AJC Decatur Book Festival (AJC DBF) has named Rafshoon as its new program director.
Effective January 1, 2013, Rafshoon will replace Terra Elan McVoy, a best-selling young adult author who held the position for two years. McVoy resigned her position to dedicate more time to her career as a novelist.
AJC DBF is the largest independent book festival in the country, and the fourth largest overall. Each year over the Labor Day weekend, tens of thousands of literary enthusiasts populate downtown Decatur along with world-class authors, illustrators, editors, publishers and booksellers for a weekend filled with literature, music, food, and fun.
“I am thrilled and honored to be able to continue to work with the publishing community and to be able to support and connect readers and writers in such a leading role with the AJC Decatur Book Festival,’’ Rafshoon told Midtown Patch. “I am excited about the challenge ahead to maintain and grow this great event and will work hard to continue to make this the leading festival it has become in such a short period of time."
With almost two decades of community experience in sales, promotion and event planning, advocacy, and publicity, Rafshoon owned and operated Outwrite from 1993 to 2012. The landmark welcoming space for Atlanta residents was Midtown’s unofficial community center.
This week, the space at 991 Piedmont Avenue opened as 10th & Piedmont, the latest local offering from restaurateurs and brothers Sean and Gilbert Yeremyan. The teams of Goodrowe ǀ Hobby, EarthStation Architecture and Structor Group designed the space for the Yeremyan brothers, who also own and operate Gilbert’s Café & Bar located next door.
Rafshoon has given his seal of approval to Midtown’s latest restaurant. “I absolutely love it,” he said, adding that he and partner, Robert Gaul, have already dined there. "The design by Goodrowe and Hobby is beautiful. Gilbert and Sean are excellent hosts, the staff is warm, and the food is great. We wish them much success, will be back often, and urge the community to support them.”
And now it’s on to new challenges for Rafshoon, who has been involved in a broad range of community and political organizations, including serving on the advisory committee of the American Booksellers Association. He has received numerous awards, including the Human Rights Campaign Humanitarian Award and two Atlanta Phoenix awards from the mayor's office.
He served as a corporate co-chair of the 2004 AIDS Walk Atlanta and received the Community Service Award from AID Atlanta in the same year. In 2010, he served on the City of Atlanta Police Chief Search Committee. In 2011, he was awarded the Atlanta Gay Chamber of Commerce Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the Ivan Allen Alumni Legacy Award from the Georgia Tech College of Liberal Arts.
“I’ve known Philip for more than 15 years, and have admired his work in the book industry and in the community, said AJC DBF Executive Director Daren Wang in a press release. “He has been a lynchpin in the Atlanta book landscape for two decades. I went to Philip in the earliest days of DBF planning for advice, and I feel I still can learn a lot from him. I think he’ll help grow this festival in fresh new ways.”