Amidst the traditional finery of Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood, a refreshingly easygoing new neighbor has arrived. Actually, there are three neighbors and, technically speaking, they aren’t new to the neighborhood. Ryan Turner, Todd Mussman, and Chris Hall are partners in Local 3. All three are locals and their restaurant opened its doors in late 2010. But, in truth, much of Local 3 has been somewhere else before.
When Turner, Mussman, and Hall conceived of Local 3, they wanted to create a space that felt like they were opening their homes to their guests. After meeting with a dozen or so architects who explained what they could build for them, the local three turned to ai3, who began by asking what they could build with them. Together, they created Local 3, a space that is so full of personality that much of it has a past.
Like an earthy fragrant onion, Local 3 is layered with distinctive materials and artwork. The bar, for instance, began its life as an oak tree, which lived and fell only a few miles away. The team commissioned artist Tracy Hartley to create the custom bar top from the salvaged trunk. Hartley’s bar features two mirror image slabs taken from the tree and married together with hand-cut dovetail joints. On either side of the bar are bookshelves and wire wracks which showcase Local 3’s extensive wine and craft beer selection.
Along the way, the team saw an opportunity to incorporate Hartley’s eclectic style throughout the space, adding an imaginative and reclaimed quality to the design. The artist’s handcrafted and painted checkerboards are integrated into the 37-foot bar. The dining room tables were built using materials reclaimed from homes off Atlanta’s Bolton Road, and it was Hartley’s handcraft that revived a former Mardi Gras Float for use as Local 3’s private dining table. For what has become the signature Local 3 triptych, the artist painted three pig portraits inspired by Turner, Mussman, and Hall. Like the rest of Local 3, the portraits are a mixture of materials and clever references to each of the owners’ personalities.
Across the dining room from the three not-so-little pigs, is an entire wall of reclaimed materials. Dubbed the “rural barcode,” the installation consists of an assemblage of found materials, from shutters and old signs to wall papered board, all placed side by side in vertical strips. But, perhaps as profound a statement as the rural barcode may be, is that which it covers up. Behind the old shutters and reclaimed floorboards is a wall of red glass tiles, a signature relic of Joel Antunes’ exclusive namesake restaurant. For the owners of Local 3, the goal was not to tear down the walls of Joël, but to breathe new life into the space, to layer history and hospitality atop the luxury.