Approximately 6 years ago we (Lindsay, Sara & Ron) stood at the corner of Memorial and Powell. The building was abandoned, the lot overrun with weeds and it had cargo containers stacked in back. We then looked up and down Memorial and saw nothing but forlorn and underutilized industrial buildings.
We had a vision, although for the most part it felt delusional. Memorial Drive could be a walkable, integrated element of Cabbagetown that would connect Reynoldstown to Grant Park to Old Fourth Ward. To do that, we hoped to build a catalytic project that would demonstrate the viability of Memorial Drive being walkable.
After 8 months of neighborhood input, we came up with The Cube Community Café as a local coffee bistro and art gallery serving beer/wine and full menu which eventually morphed into Petit Chou, a café with outstanding coffee, libations and of course, amazing food. . Thus began the process of submitting to the city for building permits and approvals Being the first redevelopment in Cabbagetown along Memorial Drive, East Side TAD and the Beltline overlay combined with Memorial Drive being a state highway and the joy of working with GDOT folks who don’t live in the city and think development should resemble their hometown of Douglasville, we encountered lots of delays, governmental learning, bureaucratic infighting and we still had to deal with City Permitting.
Finally, plans were approved and we could focus on the design and food. By that time, large scale development on Memorial Drive seemed to occur overnight. We may not have been the catalyst, but we had the foresight.
Some have referred to the build out as Industrial Chic or Nouveau Reclaimed. We look at it as a holistic exercise of crafts people adding creative input or Captain Kangaroo’s story of the stone soup. The goal, waste should be minimized as everything has some value or purpose.
As the old Eyedrum Gallery and associated buildings (for those unaware, the legend is that the buildings were previously used by the Atlanta Police Department as Horse Stables in the teens and twenties) was being torn down, Ron asked the job foreman if he could have the 12 foot Green Wooden Doors. The idea was to saw them in half and use them for the siding of the bar. Alas, the foreman said it was a liability issue and it wasn’t possible. Ron kept asking and eventually Dave offered up a trailer load of wood and steel doors. With the payment of two orders of Fox Brother BBQ, much of the interior material for the Petit Chou was acquired.
Collaborating with Luke Mount, Mike Roberts and Shawn Frizzell (hereafter referred to as the Atlanta Quality Craftsman), ideas were bounced around on how to use the wood and beams to pay homage to the historic aspects of Cabbagetown and the materials themselves. The steel metal doors were cut up and used as bar siding and tables. The 20+ foot long laminate beams of 2 x 12 inches had the nails removed and were used as the bar top, trim, and benches. Beams were re-purposed as door supports and bar foot railings.
The Atlanta Quality Craftsman then fabricated the copper drink well and the overhead storage racks in keeping with the solid character of the wood.
Bobby Messina found the green lights being discarded at a strip mall and Dave (Electrician) converted them to LED. The Atlanta Quality Craftsman built out the brackets to house the lights on the porch.
The inside chairs and bar stools are collaborative effort with Jon Quinn of South of Urban. The outside tables and chairs were fabricated by Atlanta Quality Craftsman using the remaining steel doors and the refinishing the old laminate beams.
From old maps of Cabbagetown, it appears the property was used a ramp way of built up dirt allowing access to Memorial Drive from a deep ridge. From digging on the property to install the grease trap, the mixture of material (rocks and dirt) supports this belief. In digging, we uncovered lots of different types of granite and some quartz. The larger specimens we have used to build the stone wall and the landscape stones in the parking area. Not much of value was found except a Seitzinger’s Lead Ingot (foundry was near North Avenue), a Civil War button, some bottles and metal pieces of unknown purpose. .
In the back area and in the street garden strips, we sifted the dirt to create planting areas free of large rocks and asphalt. The flowers and plants are a mix of items. We have two tulip poplars, mulberries for birds, some pecans and a stand of American elms surviving the blight. The flowers include asters, black eyed susans, coreopsis, cosmos, gaillardia, golden rod, old-fashioned zinnias and unidentified wild flowers. The iris are an heirloom variety from the Historic Oakland Cemetery gardens, along with an heirloom rose. Soon ‘Yellow Ocean’ daffodils from our good friends at Colorblends Wholesale Flowerbulbs will be in bloom.
Meet the Team
Just don’t interrupt them while eating
Lindsay, Sara and Ron
Owners & Operators
Lindsay, Sara and Ron enjoy repurposing buildings in historic areas.
They also were tired of not being able to find a coffee shop open after 9 PM and wanted home made desserts and pastries.
Peter has been advising companies on public relations and communications for 20+ years.
Peter manages the Web Presence of Petit Chou keeping us hip and trendy.