Seiber Design talks Cakes & Ale

ATL Food Chatter: September 20, 2011
(To receive the Chatter and other culinary tidbits directly in your inbox, sign up for our weekly dining newsletter)
The recent move of Cakes & Ale, to a larger space on Decatur Square not far from its original home, has been met with relief: Despite the changes, the charms of popular neighborhood bistro’s remain in tact—and then some. Ed Seiber and Stacy Kirby of Seiber Design talk about the firm’s part in the creation of the new space:

Q: You’ve designed some of the premier upscale restaurants in Atlanta—such as Restaurant Eugene and the late, lamented Spice. How did you convince the client that your firm was right for a casual neighborhood spot?
SD: We have always provided restaurant architecture and design services across a broad range of concept types and budgets. For every Restaurant Eugene, Spice, or Ray’s On The River, there has been a Wisteria, a Tortilla’s (second location) or a Yeah! Burger. We got to know [Cakes & Ale owners] Billy and Kristin Allin several years ago through restaurant industry connections and organizations such as the Southern Foodways Alliance. Ed, as an in-town resident, also became a regular Cakes & Ale customer, so Billy and Kristin believed we had a good sense of what they wanted to accomplish in the new location.

Q: Tell us about the Cakes & Ale design process.
SD: It was very much a collaborative effort with the owners. Often the perception is we designers make all of the aesthetic and technical decisions, when sometimes we primarily provide counsel to our clients. We may suggest a wall color, a decorative light fixture or a seat upholstery to complement a client’s vision.

Q: What were you trying to achieve design-wise with the Cakes & Ale project, with respect to the increased volume of space and the addition of the bakery?
SD: The owner’s primary goal was to capture the character of their existing restaurant while maximizing operational efficiencies. We started by analyzing their proposed layout, and made suggestions to increase seating capacity and flow. Once we refined the layout, we worked with the owners to develop a lighting plan based on the table layout, artwork locations, decorative lighting preferences and lighting comfort such as reduced glare. We then defined the key focal points and developed the design for the back bar. In the bakery our shelving design was guided by visual display opportunities and storage requirements.

Q: What restaurants either locally or regionally did you look to for inspiration? Or was this a strict adherence to the clients vision?
SD: We began by listening to what the owners wanted to provide for their customers. Kristin assembled a book of inspirations, which helped as a starting point in translating the vision. We worked closely with Kristin to select final finish materials and colors. The aesthetic for the bakery was developed based on a pleasant surprise that surfaced during demolition—an old bakery sign, painted on one of the existing brick walls was uncovered. The colors in the graphic consist of a blue-gray and orange lettering with an off-white background, all of which fit within Billy and Kristin’s vision.

Q: What ATL restaurant designs—other than the ones you have created—do you admire and why?
SD: Krog Bar, Inman Park: simple, intimate space with nice contrast and color. Nice attention to detail, and really fond of the cypress used in the space. Livingston Bar, Midtown: for its elegance. Rathbun Steak, Inman Park: Intricate millwork combined with the brick walls gives the space so much texture and depth. No. 246, Decatur: Well-composed composition of materials and texture.

Q: What are some of the projects are you working on now?
SD: Locally, we are working on the design for a wine tasting room at Tuxedo Wine & Spirits, in Buckhead, a casual seafood concept on Lake Oconee, and recently opened Chicken and The Egg in Marietta. We are also working on several out-of-state restaurants as well.


Chefs in the City—a monthly event where guests will enjoy a guided tasting of artisan wines, a cooking demonstration by some of the city’s most celebrated chefs, and preview the latest in home and fashion décor—kicks off at Bloomingdale’s on Sept. 29 from 6 to 8 p.m., with executive chef Ron Eyester( Rosebud, Family Dog). A portion of each evening’s proceeds will benefit Open Hand’s Comprehensive Nutrition Care, which combines home-delivered meals and nutrition education as a means to reinforce the connection between informed food choices and improved quality of life.

Living Social, an e-commerce membership site, conducted a survey of its members for the top ten dining scenes in the country and ranked Atlanta number ten.

Alpharetta. Smashburger is slated to open its third metro Atlanta location at 5530 Windward Parkway on September 28th, according to the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Buckhead. The AJC notes that Micah Willix, former executive chef at Ecco, is opening a restaurant named Latitude in the Grape space at Phipps Plaza by early November. Willix is partnering with Season 52’s Kenny Pearlman on the globally inspired restaurant.

The Buckhead Patch reported that Lime Fresh, a new Tex -Mex concept from Ruby Tuesday’s, is slated to replace the longstanding Johnny Rockets on West Paces Ferry Road.

Downtown. Tomorrow’s News Today reports that White Oak Kitchen and Cocktails is slated to open in the former Official All Star Cafe space at 270 Peachtree Street. The contemporary Southern cuisine concept is the brainchild of Alan LaBlanc, owner of Max Lager’s Woodfired Grill and Brewery located just down the street from White Oak. No time frame was given yet for the opening.

Midtown. Creative Loafing first reported that the former Nonna Mia space at 980 Piedmont Avenue is slated to become Cafe 980, based upon construction permits filed for the current structure. A couple more details: The owner is Maureen Kalmanson, who also operates Downtown’s Peasant Bistro. We hear she plans a much more extensive renovation of the space than the initial permits imply.

According to What Now Atlanta, 683 Midtown Bar and Bistro has opened at the Hotel Indigo. The new resto is part of a renovation and repositioning of the property that involves tying it closer thematically to the Fox Theatre across the street.

Poncey Highland. According to a press release, HD-1, Barry Mills and Richard Blais’s haute dog emporium, will open Thursday, September 22 at 644 North Highland Avenue. Designed as” a modern beer garden” by Atlanta’s ai3, the concept is described as “an alternative dining destination for those who value thoughtfully curated, cutting-edge flavors for inquisitive palates in an unrefined space.” Other menu items will include brisket chili with cool ranch oyster crackers, waffled fries with mae-ploy sauce (a sweet chili sauce popular in Malaysia), and hand-churned, soft-serve ice cream.

Westside. Thrillist notes that lunch spot Take Away Cafe, featuring a to-go menu of comfort food like seared salmon with lobster sauce or sandwiches like beef on weck, has opened at 1331 Marietta Boulevard. It is open weekdays from 11 am until 2pm.

Question of the Week: What world-famous entrepreneur has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Georgia Restaurant Association?

PS . The answer to last week’s QOTW—Question of the Week: Name the second of Atlanta’s Top Chef contestants to be immortalized as a cartoon (Eli Kirshtein was the first)—is Kevin Gillespie, whose animated likeness debuted on the Cartoon Network last Sunday, September 11.

Do you have restaurant openings, closings, or other news to share? Email James Oxendine at