When I started thinking about what I wanted to write about, or WHO I wanted to write about, Grant Henry and his beloved Church came to mind. I sat down with Grant a few days ago with absolutely no agenda or line of questioning, but rather to understand how a bar became a true experience – based on courage, community and selflessness.
Although we covered everything from Grant’s early beginnings and understanding the true – “HOW I GOT HERE” conversation, it wasn’t the intimate details that inspired this post, but rather a few key points that we can all attest is the true essence we call Church.
Actually, it’s called Sister Louisa’s Church of the Living Room & Ping Pong Emporium.
Grant Henry just needed some walls to hang some art, an iconic “shingle”, and an idea that would yield a larger community of devout followers. Not following any organized religion, but rather the idea supported by the artwork of Sister Louisa and Grant’s vision echoed by texture, kitsch, consistency and the demands of it’s patrons and the ever-present want to provide a true experience at every touch point.
Sure his background is peppered by a degree in hospitality, education and language arts, as well as having followed his heart through the seminary teachings – but the one thing that stood out which was embedded in his sharing – was honesty and a breath-filled declaration: “as I age, and face death, you start to not care as much”.
What he is referring to is not his customers, he LOVES his patrons (and engages with them daily via Facebook) but rather the not caring of trying to make everybody happy.
In agreement, I shake my head in unison with Grant, as “you can’t please everybody.
So – what he does is creates a memorable experience, an affordable luxury for all of us to engage with one another in a comfortable, enjoyable atmosphere, and we walk away – ALL of us, talking about Church (whether it’s good, bad, indifferent, we’re talking about it – just because).
His intentions are pure. No TV, No Smoking (inside) and everyone is able to engage with one another and return to what is most important – true community with an after taste of “what the hell?” And of course – the ping pong, karaoke and the never escapable presence of Sister Louisa’s art.
Tim Nichols AIA, LEED
When I moved to Atlanta in 2001, I soon met up with Annie and Tim Nichols, and ever since, have been kindred spirits in personal, professional and in education. I’ve had the pleasure to work with Tim at HOK Architecture and in his solo endeavor – NO-Architecture. Because we share a space at 489, Tim’s projects are ever present and I am honored to present a glimpse into his work, style and impact within the design and architectural world.
For NO Architecture, a full-service architectural and interior design company – Tim takes on projects mostly within the commercial realm and has a powerful vision and understanding for creating “Creative” and “Immersive” spaces, i.e. restaurants and agency environments. Recently, Tim’s been getting a lot of recognition for his work and contribution on The Optimist & Oyster Bar, here in Atlanta. Tim oversaw the production of the detailed drawings associated with the pricing, permitting and construction of the restaurant. Material selection and detailing became a collaborative effort between Ford Fry, the visionary chef, Smith Hanes the Interior Designer, Ben Lassbeck the builder, and the architect. Kudos to the entire team – as it’s just been announced that The Optimist has been namedBest New Restaurant of 2012 by Esquire magazine.
Other projects include the Joystick Gamebar, The Lawrence, Double Zero and Allsteel showroom, AGL Resources headquarters and WPP offices. More than a project is Tim’s dedication to teaching. As Assistant Professor for Interior Design at Georgia State University he coordinates the program, implements art tours around Europe, including a recent study around Paris, London, Barcelona and is scheduling the next excursion to Berlin, Vienna and Prague.
Tim Nichols and I were looking for a space to hang a shingle for both of our own businesses and came across 489 Edgewood Avenue. Located about 100 feet from the intersection of Boulevard and Edgewood Ave – was this vacant, dusty and soul-less space, yet it screamed to the two of us – of what it could be. Two floors allowed us to explore for the first year, how to break it up as both a creative collective, bringing in various talents including: interior design, architecture, graphic designers, web programming, video editors, marketing directors, product designer and brand strategy.
Now that we are coming up to the end of 2 years, we find that what we created was a multi-disciplined creative space upstairs, and a welcoming flex space downstairs, where 1700 sq.ft. has been the home of such art groups, including: Contraband Cinema with Marcus Rosentrater, Film Love with Andy Diztler, Peripheral Visions with Niklas Vollmer, EyeDrum, Georgia Sate University, Georgia Tech and to an eclectic group of artists and craftspeople for an annual holiday bazaar (Dec.15).
In addition to the creation of a wonderful work/play space – we are contributing to the Old Fourth Ward, which brings a great amount of pride to myself and Tim. Located next to Sound Table, across the street from Sister Louisa’s Church of Living Room and Ping Pong Emporium, and up the street from the newly opened Joystick Bar (and arcade).
If you are interested in having an event, we’d love to hear your vision and to see if we’d be a good location and if you just want to come by, then COME ON BY. Also, if you or someone you know is looking for a place to set up shop, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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