When Nick Bishop, Sr. and Nick Bishop Jr. converted a former Krystal’s in West Nashville, Tennessee in 2014 into their second location of Hattie B’s Hot Chicken, they saw the winning ingredients for their restaurant concept: great food, a great building, and a great neighborhood.
The dynamic father and son duo expanded the fast-casual eatery into Birmingham, Alabama and Memphis, serving their celebrated chicken dish. In 2016, they set their sights on Atlanta. Nick Sr. and Nick Jr. scouted properties for two years until they came across the abandoned Little Five Points Coin Laundry Dry Cleaner.
The Hattie B’s team, along with architect Juan Carlos Ball with the architectural and engineering firm Robertson Loia Roof, saw immense potential in the boarded building, a former Phillips 66 gas station. Little Five Points met the Bishops’ criteria of an eclectic, walkable location for a Hattie B’s Hot Chicken restaurant.
The building featured a distinctive design from architect Clarence Reinhardt. Inspired by Los Angeles drive-in restaurants in 1960, the Texas-based architect, who worked for Phillips 66 and designed many company buildings, created arguably one of the most iconic gas station designs: a huge, upward-sloping, triangular shaped canopy rising from the gas station office and store toward the gas tanks with the support of an open metal column.
“It was a collective effort to retrace the steps back to Phillips 66, and it was fun to see their old brochures. We worked to maintain the integrity of this building – whether it’s the lighting under the canopy, or the garage bays,” Nick Jr. said.
The bat wing canopy of this Modernist building was painted in the signature Hattie B’s red color originating from the hue of historic southern barns and structurally reinforced to support a new patio. Original display windows in the former gas station office and store were replaced with new ones soaking the building entry with sunlight. The old garage doors in the former car repair area were swapped with new glass garage doors to provide natural lighting and generous street views for diners.
Juan Carlos Ball notes, “Balancing the client needs, code requirements, and the limitations of an existing building is always a tough, but rewarding challenge.”
Through the extra time to establish a restaurant centered on their core values, the Hattie B’s team has delivered a savory experience in Atlanta for guests, design aficionados, and the community. The public appetite is strong for a second location.
Melody L. Harclerode, FAIA promotes significant natural, historical, and cultural sites as a non-profit leader, architect, and writer.