Western & Atlantic at Switchyards Downtown Club, June 2016

Western & Atlantic: The country’s first members-only coffeehouse

When we first put pen to paper to plan Switchyards, we outlined a lot of exciting elements, but none have captured the imagination of as many people as our membership coffeeshop, Western & Atlantic. So we wanted to spend some time discussing the origin story as well as our plans for the space.

It was natural for Michael to consider a coffeeshop very early because Scoutmob pretty much started in Octane’s Westside location. So he approached Tony, the owner of Octane Coffee, and they began to share ideas. Neither Michael nor Tony wanted this to be just another Octane outpost… what appealed to them both was testing something brand new. And what better place to test new consumer coffee business models than Switchyards!

What they came-up with is the first and only (as far as we know) membership coffeeshop in the country. Michael’s original vision was an updated version of a “downtown club.” Those early city clubs traced their origins back to the coffeehouses of 17th-century London. Coffeehouses became the place to meet and discuss the topic of the day. On top of that, both Michael & Tony wanted to explore new consumer use cases for cafes like not having a cash register, allowing people to place orders on an iPad themselves and giving members personal mugs…so turning the traditional cafe model on its head by getting really creative about the customer experience.

They wanted the flow of the coffee shop within the building to be intentional. Arrive in the morning, walk into the front door and through the coffee shop on their way to full-time offices or the part-time space on the ground floor. And visitors to Switchyards — including nightly events — will be able to purchase drinks (including beer & wine) at W&A as well.

So Switchyards gets a high-end coffee experience overseen by Octane, the best boutique coffee brand in the southeast, and Octane gets to work on a new, disruptive brand. And everyone at Switchyards — whether full or part time — gets free, unlimited coffee drinks as part of a disruptive new way to operate a cafe.

Take a minute and imagine an entire Octane coffeeshop filled with doers creating amazing brands…people you value seeing every morning to share a story about your business. By making W&A a members-only spot filled with people totally dedicated to consumer & design-focused startups, this will be the place where the most productive B2C startup conversations will happen in Atlanta.

Please join us in welcoming the very first startup that will move into Switchyards (because we need our coffee on day one)…our very own Western & Atlantic*.

* In 1836, the Georgia General Assembly voted to build the Western & Atlantic Railroad of the State of Georgia to provide a link between the port of Savannah and the Midwest. The initial route of that state-sponsored project was to run from Chattanooga to a spot east of the Chattahoochee River, in present-day Fulton County. An engineer was chosen to recommend the location where the Western & Atlantic line would terminate. Once he surveyed various possible routes, he drove a stake into the ground near what is now Forsyth and Magnolia Streets. The zero milepost was later placed at that spot. The area developed into a settlement, known as “Terminus”, literally meaning “end of the line”. In 1843, the small settlement of Terminus was incorporated as the city of Marthasville. Two years later, by Act of the Georgia General Assembly the city was renamed “Atlanta”. — Wikipedia
1919 Foote & Davis Co. map of Atlanta. SDC photoshopped in. Everything else is real.