Sound-activated light installations. Arched, beveled ceilings. A BeltLine-facing patio. Atlanta BeltLine visionary Ryan Gravel wants to get Atlantans talking, and these elements of his futuristic restaurant and bar are just the start. Designed to drive ideas and conversation, Aftercar will open in the basement of the Telephone Factory lofts in late 2019.
“It’s a place where people can break bread together, bridges divide, and they can see each other as part of a shared future,” Gravel says. “Or you might just want a beer or a meal. We’re not trying to get people to have some big educational experience. We just want them to know they have a role in shaping the world around them.”
We spoke to Gravel to learn more.
How’d you come up with the idea for Aftercar?
Its sister organization is my nonprofit, Generator. It’s a digital and physical platform for people to create ideas, such as ideas about the future of cities. All the great social and political movements start at a drinking spot. The dining room at Paschal’s was behind civil rights movement. People who don’t agree on everything can organize themselves over food and drinks and then go out and change the world.
Generator cohabitates with Aftercar, but the restaurant will be for-profit. The challenges ahead are real and interrelated, and Aftercar provides a casual, public-facing interface with [Generator’s] ideas.
Where did the name “Aftercar” come from?
I made it up. It evokes a future that is unknown. People interpret it in different ways. [One way is] our relationship to cars will be different in the future.
What will the space look and feel like?
It’ll have a Mad Max-vibe that plays up the future. It’ll be 5,000 square feet. It has ample room so people don’t feel rushed. It has an outdoor deck facing the BeltLine, a private dining room, and events space. We’ll have art performances during dinner hours to provoke conversations.
Arched plaster ceiling covers the dining space and bar. Our idea is to animate the ceiling as a unifying, Instagramable experience that changes with the mood of the people who are there. The lights change based on the sounds. We’ll have video monitors [displaying] live feeds of rivers and traffic jams.
What kind of food and drinks will Aftercar serve?
We’re interviewing restaurant partners now to help with menu offerings. We want it to be locally sourced, chef-driven, and showcase local breweries and distilleries. It’s hyper-local meets hyper-global.
We will have coffee and pastries in the morning because it will [serve] as shared workspace for the workshops put on by the nonprofit. There will be lunch, dinner, a late-night bar, and weekend brunch. It’ll be table service, but there might be multiple food tenants within the space.