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Photos: Murder Kroger’s last hurrah before demolition

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After 30 years, candlelit sendoff says so long to a nefarious Atlanta landmark

Rachel Bowen, an Atlanta native and Georgia State University student, stood atop a rock Thursday night, commanded a moment of silence, shared the tale of her first visit to Murder Kroger after a Masquerade concert, and then asked attendees huddled around her to stop mourning, step forward, and tell their favorite story about ATL’s most notorious chain grocer.

Radio silence.

Bowen asked again, more plaintively, and one young woman shouted: “I got laid in this parking lot!”

The crowd roared and whooped.

So went the pre-demoliton sendoff for Murder Kroger, a community staple of 30 years, bad-luck magnet, and the undisputed champion of Atlanta’s many nicknamed Krogers. The predicted hordes of 1,000-plus didn’t exactly materialize, but a couple hundred Atlantans of all stripes turned out to pay homage to an unremarkable but reliable grocery store — and to mourn a bizarre side of Atlanta that’s slipping away.

Like the scruffy Masquerade music park a few blocks south, Murder Kroger will be replaced by a much fancier development of mixed uses, which will include a cutting-edge Kroger prototype with meat that probably won’t stink.

“We can turn this into a protest of gentrification if y’all want,” shouted Bowen, a vigil organizer who created the event on Facebook — on a lark — and was shocked to see the turnout.

People spoke of Murder Kroger in human terms — “I remember the first time we met ...” Men in Murder Kroger T-shirts rode unicycles and extolled the virtues of bygone, affordable Atlanta in media interviews. A group of women huddled together and sang “Dust in the Wind.” One guy came in a gorilla suit, lifting people’s spirits. Open containers abounded.

Murder Kroger died a good death.