More details are emerging about indoor-outdoor bar and entertainment venue Westside Motor Lounge opening at Echo Street West, a development taking shape along the Westside Beltline Connector trail on the edge of the English Avenue neighborhood.
Westside Motor Lounge is owned by Lincoln Property Company and Bridge Commercial Real Estate and managed by STHRN Hospitality Co., a partnership formed in 2021 between George Banks of real estate firm Revel and Elizabeth Feichter (formerly of Atlanta Food and Wine Festival) and Kelly Campbell of Southern Culinary and Creative (Gather ‘round, Epicurean Atlanta).
Opening in early October on the corner of Northside Drive and Donald Lee Hollowell Parkway, Westside Motor Lounge takes over two former automotive shops, four shipping containers, and a 1982 Mercedes Wagon left behind there, transforming the site into three distinct dining, drinking, and entertainment spaces spread across three acres.
Restaurant and bar
Located in a portion of the old D&R Auto Shop, Westside Motor Lounge’s sprawling bar and restaurant seats 150 people between the dining room and patio, with room for even more people in the courtyard.
Chef Jeffrey Peterson (formerly the Abby Singer) plans to offer a menu of Southern fare and snacks, including mac and cheese mixed with bechamel sauce and a four-cheese blend topped with a jalapeno cornbread crust, a grilled pimento and bacon sandwich, and meat-and-three plates, along with dishes like biscuits and gravy for weekend brunch. Look for takes on classic cocktails and shaken drinks inspired by Atlanta’s westside neighborhoods from the bar.
An event and retail space called Idlewild occupies the other part of the building and features dart boards and lounge areas used for meetings, dart leagues, and pop-up shops. Plant shop Tropical Express will be the first pop-up hosted at Idlewild.
Cocktail lounge and listening room
Cocktail lounge and listening room West Bar resides in another building along the western side of the property and includes a game room with ping pong, foosball, and tabletop shuffleboard. Four garage doors open to the courtyard toward Echo Street.
Led by bar manager Kelsey Kenny (formerly of The Painted Duck, Jo Jo’s Beloved, Rock Steady), the cocktail menu for West Bar, and for Westside Motor Lounge, was created by renowned Atlanta bartender Kellie Thorn, who left her longtime post as beverage director of Hugh Acheson’s restaurants earlier this year. Expect cocktails like the Georgia Gold Rush made with bourbon, honey, and peach bitters and the Pretty Thing with basil vodka, elderflower, and vanilla.
Beer garden and outdoor entertainment space
One of the four shipping containers on the property was transformed into a serving station with a draft system for the beer garden at Westside Motor Lounge, which also includes a large screen television.
A stage was fashioned out of the three remaining shipping containers, with the courtyard beyond the beer garden featuring shuffleboard courts, cabanas and picnic tables, fire pits and Adirondack chairs, and space for a food truck. The 1982 Mercedes Wagon sports a mural from Atlanta artist Kyle “BlackCatTips” Brooks.
Backed by real estate firm Lincoln Property Company, Echo Street West will eventually feature retail, office and restaurant spaces, multi-family housing, artist colony Guardian Studios, and a hotel once fully open. The development encompasses approximately 19 acres on the eastern edge of the historically Black neighborhood of English Avenue, just north of Vine City and Atlanta University Center, home to historically Black colleges Spelman, Morehouse, and Clark Atlanta University.
Growing concerns over rapid gentrification in the area due to recent redevelopment and rising rents and home prices spurred on by the arrival of the Beltline and its Westside Connector trail are leading to questions regarding the impact developments like Echo Street West and its amenities have on these neighborhoods and legacy residents. The Atlanta Regional Commission considers English Avenue one of the city’s most vulnerable neighborhoods for gentrification, with a median household income averaging around $36,500 a year.
In an attempt to foster relationships and work with the community to become part of it, Lincoln Property formed the Echo Street West Partnership. The donor-based fund supports youth development organizations, like Good Samaritan Health Center, UrbanPerform, and Boy and Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, as well as organizations offering job training and other needs in area neighborhoods. Free events will take place regularly at Echo Street West, a statement provided to Eater indicates, along with public art gallery hours at Guardian Studios on the property. At least 20 percent of the apartments at Vibe at Echo Street West are deemed affordable housing, reserved for people or families earning up to 80 percent of the area’s median income, according to Lincoln Property.
Westside Motor Lounge is also planning to offer several free events, including weekly live entertainment and showing various sports games on the televisions.
“There has been a concerted effort to price the menu competitively and have affordable options,” STHRN Hospitality says, when asked how they will keep Westside Motor Lounge accessible and affordable for residents living in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“Cost comparisons to the establishments in the immediate area have our menu at or below most,” STHRN Hospitality goes on to say. “Our courtyard and amenities are here for all to enjoy. Programming like live music, sports viewing, shuffleboards, ping pong, foosball, ring game are all offered at no cost.”
Many staff members at Westside Motor Lounge live in English Avenue or in nearby neighborhoods, the group adds, which offers employees a livable wage, paid time off, and tip sharing among its benefits.
“[We] are doing our part to address the issues in the hospitality industry that were amplified by the pandemic.”
There are still a few jobs left to fill at Westside Motor Lounge ahead of the October opening.
725 Echo Street, Atlanta. westsidemotorlounge.com.
Opening early October. Anticipated hours: Wednesday - Thursday 4 p.m. to 11 p.m.; Friday, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Sunday, 11 a.m. to 12 a.m.