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Restaurant Visit: Optimist in Atlanta


Restaurant Visit: Optimist in Atlanta

September 28, 2012

For the nautically inclined, the word "Optimist" conjures up images of small sailing boats on the seaside. That is just what chef Ford Fry is hoping to achieve.

The Optimist Restaurant and Oyster Bar (named after a small type of sailing dinghy) in Atlanta is the latest venture of Fry. With the help of designer Smith Hanes, and collaborations with several local artisans like graphic designer Alvin Diec, he has created a space that aims to transport diners to a seaside town. The restaurant is housed in a former ham-aging facility that was painstakingly renovated to preserve the integrity of the old space, while injecting a decidedly nautical personality reminiscent of an old fish camp. There are two distinct dining spaces: the main restaurant and a beach-shack inspired oyster house.

All images, except where noted, by Andrew Thomas Lee via the Optimist.

700 optimist brick exterior 2

Above: The Optimist Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Atlanta.

700 optimist reception table

Above: A vintage piece on wheels used for the reception desk.

700 optimist view into kitchen

Above: Key design features include subway tiled walls, forged metal fixtures, and repurposed wood elements like the floor-to-ceiling windows separated by wood strips (designed to look like lobster traps).

700 optimist interior dining

Above: The main dining room, anchored by the bar at one end.

700 optimist octopus mural

Above: A sea creature graphic wraps the oven.

700 optimist bar stripe chairs

Above: Striped upholstered bar stools line the bar.

700 optimist serving table

Above: Much of the furniture was designed by Skylar Morgan (commissioned by Smith Hanes). The servers’ stations were made in Skylar Morgan’s signature oiled walnut. In the background, reclaimed lumber is reimagined as crab-trap-like wall hangings.

700 optimist stripe fabric panels

Above: Upholstered banquettes add a touch of formality to the dining room.

700 optimist stripe table

Above: Small graphic touches abound, like tables cleverly painted with a napkin-mimicking red stripe.

700 optimist view into oyster bar

Above: A view from the dining room into the oyster bar.

700 optimist oyster bar stools

Above: The Oyster Bar has a casual beach-shack sensibility. The bar is topped by light wood with a custom limestone wash that appears weathered by sea air. Surfboards are tucked in corners.

700 optimist oyster bar

Above: Bench seating and a wood-slat ceiling adds to the beach lounge feel. An homage to the buildings roots remains on the brick wall. Image via Ultra Epicure.

700 optimist bathrooms offices

Above: Graphics inspired by sail numbers adorn the washrooms and utility rooms.

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