By now, most Atlanta eaters are familiar with Chef Mel Toledo. Better known as Chef Mel, Toledo has worked in some of the country’s most celebrated kitchens including Atlanta’s Bacchanalia, New York’s Daniel restaurant and Tapenade in San Diego. When the time came for Chef Mel to create his newest eatery, he turned to the team at ai3 to build a space that would feel like home – home for himself and for everyone who passed through.
Chef Mel came to ai3 with the restaurant name Foundation and a concept that extended from the menu to the atmosphere. He asked his design team to build something with backbone, a space that would speak to strength and simplicity but would be infused with creativity.
Foundation Social Eatery is a mixture of patterns and texture. Set in a popular shopping area in Roswell, the space is a casual, modern and a friendly refuge in one of the busiest parts of town. Exposed ductwork and metal framing are balanced with a soft white and wood palette. Dark-stained hardwood floors run throughout the space and tie the dining, bar, and lounge spaces together. Suspended plywood panels, die-cut in an irregular orchid pattern inspired by Chef Mel’s tattoos, surround the dining room and filter light like modern lattice. White fabric screens in a similar soft blue pattern, separate the dining room from the entry and bar with airy translucence.
The adjacent bar is a similar medley of wood grains, but more industrial in scale and finish. Metals play a bigger role here as seen in the massive open wine rack, made of rebar, that greets guests with a grand display of color and texture.