Calling itself "the only membership coffee shop in the country (that we know of)," Western & Atlantic will open at 151 Spring St. as part of the larger Switchyards project. Switchyards — an "urban club" in the tradition of early 20th century city clubs — is the brainchild of Scoutmob founder Michael Tavani. He wanted to create a "members only space for Atlanta's growing community of consumer and design-focused entrepreneurs" that would be "part workspace, part coffee shop, part event series, part incubator and part social house." The 1928 building that houses his vision will open to members this summer with the coffee house section (a collaboration between Switchyards and Octane) brewing starting this fall. Is anyone else tempted to wander in wearing a Members Only jacket, just to see if you could get a latte?
Tavani settled on the historic 19,000-square-foot building after considering a space in the Flatiron Building, an 80,000-square-foot warehouse on the Westside, an office in Ponce City Market and "50 to 60 other spaces on the Beltline, downtown, the Westside and Old Fourth Ward." He chose 151 Spring St. because it's "urban, walkable, historic, on the streetcar, big enough but not too big and just the perfect level of outdated." As we previously reported, the building was in need of about $2 million in renovations. Plexus R&D is designing the space and handling interior renovations. Tavani has said they'll be keeping the original ceilings, brick walls and floors and using "lots of subway tile and distressed wood."
Since opening in 1928, the building's tenants have included a law book publisher, greeting card printer, Goodyear tires dealer, Oxford Manufacturing, Lanier Company, the USO and, most recently, Atlanta Legal Aid. History Atlanta has a fascinating and detailed account of the building's background as well as a number of historic photos.
Those interested in partaking in the members-only coffee and other Switchyard amenities can apply for a membership now. The only requirements are that you "be a doer and passionate about brand/design." Oh, and that you pay some money, namely $350 a month for a full membership (private office, 24/7 building access, free coffee at W&A, board rooms, phone booths, collaboration rooms, a "throwback game room" and a kitchen). There are other options: For $200 a month, you'll get board room access, free W&A coffee, 24/7 first-floor access and a locker. On a budget? Pay $80 a month and get a social membership that'll get you into monthly cultural events, some beer and wine and nightly access to Atlanta's most exclusive coffee shop.
· Switchyards [website]