A place to gather, engage, and create – that was the vision behind Chrome Yellow Trading Co., a dry goods + coffee shop in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward inspired by the Aldous Huxley novel of a similar name. The intention of this space is just that: to be intentional. Every detail, from the Schoolhouse lighting to the daily playlist and simplified menu, was thoughtfully chosen to create an atmosphere that encourages interaction and contemplation. Atlanta natives and new parents Kyle and Kelly Taylor brought Chrome Yellow Trading Co. to life in its current iteration in 2015, serving up coffee and small batch goods while continuing to champion their hometown by creating a meaningful, welcoming space for all.
Name: Chrome Yellow Trading Co.
Date opened: August of 2015
Neighborhood: Old Fourth Ward, Atlanta, Ga.
Tell us about Chrome Yellow Trading Co. – What was the inspiration behind the concept and how did you execute on the vision?
"Kelly and I have a mixture of restaurant and retail background and since we met, over twelve years ago, we wanted to start some sort of a hospitality business together. The vision changed over the years but as we got closer to reality, we also got closer to what that dream really meant to us. We wanted a space that was inspiring to not only ourselves but to others. A place where people would want to gather, meet, talk, get excited and get creative. Hence the name, which is loosely inspired by Aldous Huxley’s first novel, Crome Yellow, about an English manor where him and other like minded friends, writers and artists would vacation and gather to talk life and creative pursuits.
Chrome Yellow started out as a retail concept for us in late 2013, where we focused on quality, small batch goods that were unique to our area. We had monthly events and really enjoyed making the space as aesthetically pleasing as possible while also striving to have great events that kept people wanting to come back for more. We did small pop-up events in a few different areas of Atlanta while searching for the shop’s permanent home."
"Once we found the ideal space in the right neighborhood where we could implement the coffee shop, that became the perfect vehicle for a creative, gathering place for people on a daily basis."
Was there a very specific design vision from the beginning or did the final design come together organically?
"Once we found the space and selected our architect, Tim Nichols with NO Architecture, who knew the building very well, the design started to come together very quickly and organically. The building was originally built as a garage in the 50’s and so we wanted to keep the design clean, simple and modern while working with the existing industrial aspects."
How did you both work together to create the unique look and feel of the space?
"We were very fortunate to have a similar aesthetic in mind and it also just worked out quite naturally with our architect’s style. I’m pretty obsessed with lighting, sound and color so that is something I always give a lot of attention to and Kelly has natural strengths in creating a smooth flow and layout throughout the space."
What are some of your favorite elements about the overall design or branding of Chrome Yellow?
"One of my favorite things about our branding is that I had to opportunity to finally work with my very dear friend and designer, Austin Lane, in San Diego. We worked together for many months finalizing the original branding marks of Chrome Yellow and we continue collaborating on projects for the company. We recently did a new batch of logos to add to the mix with Ben Kocinski, from Kansas City, which was fun to see what ideas he came up for us. I’ve always been interested in design and often times know exactly what I want for the brand but really enjoy working with others to see another perspective. Collaboration and continuing to create great designs is definitely a passion for me."
How did you hear about Schoolhouse and what drew you to the lights you choose in particular?
"Hmm...I think I first heard of Schoolhouse on social media but honestly don’t remember. I do know that once I discovered you guys I knew that I wanted to use your lighting as much as possible in our space. I was drawn to the quality and made-with-care philosophy of Schoolhouse which made it all the more a company we wanted to work with to help create the look and feel or our space.
We wanted flush mount lights for above the bar; something substantial, clean design, mostly classic in style but with a hint of industrial. We loved the size and look of the factory shade and thought it was the perfect choice. Because of the already strong, industrial feel of our space, we wanted to choose lighting that was more classic and not overtly modern."
You serve Stumptown coffee! Is there a Portland connection there? What’s your coffee philosophy and do you have a favorite style of serving?
"Our only real connection with Portland is Stumptown and we have an amazing relationship with them. We met with a lot of different roasters before opening the shop and once we met with Stumptown and heard about the relationships they had with their famers and their focus on in- house quality control, they very quickly became our top pick. We also knew that we wanted to offer something different in Atlanta and at the time there wasn’t anyone working with Stumptown.
We like to have a fairly simple coffee menu where our team can really focus on consistent quality drinks and service. Espresso or an espresso based drink would be my favorite style of serving because our baristas are so dialed in that it’s what we consistently get the most compliments on and what I think truly brings many of our customers back time and time again."
What do you like best about Atlanta and your neighborhood in particular?
"Kelly and I are Atlanta natives so it’s very much home to both of us. We love that it is truly a city in the trees where you can be driving thru city streets and a minute later under towering decades-old trees. It can be spread out which may be tricky for visitors to navigate but once you learn all the different neighborhoods, you see what a diverse city it is and how much it has to offer. The food scene is pretty awesome in Atlanta and continues to get better and better with some of the most notable restaurants in the country.
We were very excited to come to the Old Fourth Ward because we’ve already had a bit of history in the neighborhood. Kelly worked at RWL the car repair shop almost 15 years ago before working with Welbornhenson, the custom furniture shop which was what resided in our exact space before we renovated it for Chrome. We’re proud to be in such a neighborhood that is so rich in history. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birth home and visitor center is just a few blocks away."
Any secret or favorite spots to share?
"Well there is no secret about Staplehouse (Bon Appetit's 2017 restaurant of the year) and what they’ve created but they are neighbors to us, just a couple doors down, and we would definitely recommend having dinner and drinks there if you were in the area. A small secret that some may not know is that we actually have a really amazing chef and friend in Jarrett Sieber with EatMeSpeakMe, who creates many of the lunch offerings on our menu. Jarrett has been doing pop-up restaurants in a few spots around the city for some time now and has created quite a name for himself. We have a soon-to-be two year old and another baby on the way, so we don’t get out a lot right now, but another of our favorites in Atlanta is a small breakfast spot on Ponce de Leon called Java Jive. We’ve been going there for many years, it’s like walking back in time with it’s authentic 50’s design and simple, great food that never disappoints. Definitely try their wheat germ pancakes with cinnamon butter."
Visit Chrome Yellow Trading Co.
Photography by Ellie Lillstrom