LADYBIRD MESS HALL & MUSIC GROVE was an exciting project for Chandlee Construction Company. It is part of the BeltLine Atlanta revitalization project. Owner, Michael Lennox, chose this former cotton mill consisting of several rental lofts to be converted into a beautiful eco-design. Seth Chandlee, CEO of Chandlee Holdings and Founding Partner of Chandlee Construction, and the Chandlee crew were responsible for the evolution of this very old brick building into a light-filled restaurant and bar with inside and outside areas for dining, drinking, music and games. Joshua Charles was the architect/designer who initialized the project with Michael Lennox.
The one story building is constructed of brick and wood with high ceilings. All mechanical systems were replaced to bring the project up to code. Several windows originally located at the top of the walls were relocated to make better use of the light. Additional windows taken from a school in Alabama were incorporated into the design. Several interior walls were taken down and the double front entry doors were replaced. New interior walls were constructed to create dining areas, a bar, a full size commercial kitchen, restrooms, and cold and dry storage. An office for Michael was created above the main floor.
The design for the concrete porch divided the space in two sections – an enclosed portion facing the beltline and an open section at the front of the building facing the parking lot. The enclosed portion was screened in copper and covered with a metal roof. A custom-built rail was constructed along the edge of the entire porch and new concrete steps were installed to connect the porch to the grounds.
Seth Chandlee had this to say on May 13, 2014 about the Ladybird project: “Cool details are beginning to show through in this restaurant construction project. Still to come . . . military locker built-ins, a 1,000 square foot mural, metal baseboards, park bench banquettes, 30 foot tall telephone poles, spider web lighting, handmade doors, a 25 foot American flag, thousands of board feet of reclaimed lumber, hand-hewn wood beam bar stools, and . . . the list goes on!”
Two weeks later the new mahogany French double doors and three nine foot windows had been installed. The metal lockers were in place on the wall across from the front entrance. These lockers are used as a built-in service area for the serving coffee and drinks and also as a buffet.
Michael and several others helped create much of the interior decor working within the whimsical Boy’s Life-meets-Wes Anderson aesthetic. One example is a map of the continents created using nails directly into sheetrock on a wall in the dining room immediately on the left upon entering the restaurant. Another example is Michael’s idea to use telephone poles from North Carolina that were painted as totem poles. Some of the poles were worked into the construction of the tables and others had sails hung from them. Seth commented, “Now Ladybird will be known as the place with the painted telephone poles.”
This wonderfully eclectic restaurant and bar is located at 684 John Wesley Dobbs Avenue in the Old Fourth Ward district on the Eastside Trail of the Atlanta BeltLine. This area is a very active part of the beltline with walking and cycling events, and activities of art and music. (More details are available at www.beltline.org.) The beltline is one of the most comprehensive urban renewal undertakings literally in the world! With the restaurant located directly on the trail those biking, skating or walking, even with their dogs, can stop in anytime for a drink, a meal and a game.
Executive chef Robert Lupo assisted in developing Ladybird’s menu and culinary direction, but he and the restaurant owner parted ways. Kyle Schmidt came on board as the Executive Chef from the King + Duke and No. 246. Kyle and Michael fined tuned the menu to feature delicious and unique pairings that are generously served in camp fire fashion. Ladybird offers a variety of beers, draft wine and craft cocktails.
Lamon Luther designed and built many of the tables for Ladybird, including the long one in the first dining room. Atlanta artist Sam Parker created a massive mural in four days on the wall inside the back dining room. The scene contained details of a bear and an owl and the moon painted with luminescent paint. The owner has since painted over it.
Seth and the crew of Chandlee Construction completed this conversion and renovation project in late July. The Certificate of Occupancy was presented to Michael Lennox on Monday, July 28, 2014. Ladybird opened soon after as the newest Eastside Trail watering hole and eatery. Great food and libations are served on the lawn and outdoor porches and any time of year inside in the two uniquely designed dining rooms and at the bar.
Ladybird Grove and Mess Hall was the subject of great anticipation before the doors opened and she continues to be the focus of articles by several well-known Atlanta publications. The links to several of these articles are available on our ‘News’ page under the ‘Media/News’ tab in the menu bar above. Click on the title of this page to be linked to one of the Curbed: Atlanta articles. Additional articles are found on our site about another well-known bar and restaurant project constructed by Chandlee Construction, Big Sky Buckhead.
The photo on the left was taken during a recent visit to Ladybird by Seth Chandlee and several friends. Everyone enjoyed the great food while being pleasantly surprised with the generous portions served on cast iron and large wood planks. Chandlee Construction Company is a commercial contracting firm specializing in design-build and retail build-out projects.
Seth Chandlee commented about signing a contract to perform additional construction on the Ladybird Grove and Mess Hall: “We are back at it! Phase Two is starting as soon as possible. The original design was by architect, Joshua Charles. Updating the progress at Ladybird – the exterior greenspace plan has been approved by the Beltline committee for outdoor seating a few months ago. The growth along the Beltline has ‘blown up’ the restaurant. This growth has made it necessary to expand the interior space. Chandlee Construction will convert an existing loft left over from the original mill into restrooms for the ladies – as many as we can build in the space!”
Carey Hughes, Senior Project Manager with Chandlee Construction Company, met with Ladybird’s owner, Michael Lennox, on Wednesday, April 20 to make his acquaintance and look at the project. While onsite they went over the drawings and specifications to insure everyone was on the same page. Carey scheduled demolition to begin the following day with a meeting set up with Gene, the plumbing sub-contractor and the framing contactor the day after.
Work was underway on the 21st. Demolition was complete except for the framework. Carey talked with Michael about cutting the slab and how the crews would work around the hours the restaurant is open. The dumpster was delivered and Carey coordinated the delivery of the CO2 with the grease disposal days. Because Michael’s electrician was too far away to perform the initial cutoff it was agreed that Chandlee Electric would perform the initial cutoff. The original plumber backed out of the project due to permitting so Sean Malone joined our staff member for a walk-through review the next day.
Sean determined it would not be possible to tap into an old toilet line because of the elevation. The installation of a pump and tapping into the 4 inch drain above the ceiling may be the solution along with the rework of the existing drain line. Carey discussed the framing schedule, the floor cutting and removal, and the material delivery with Michael. The HVAC sub was scheduled for the 27th to review what would be required for this project. A new layout was approved to allow for an existing support post to remain underneath the stair – they will be incorporated into a partition wall in order to be hidden. Chandlee Electric, the electrical sub-contractor, was cleared to begin in three days.
By April 26 the framing was 90% complete. The remaining debris was removed the following day. On May 2 the concrete was cut and disposed of and the electrical work began. Michael and Carey determined the type of sinks to be used and how best to incorporate them into the countertop and Michael was to pick up the wall paneling within the week. A floor drain was added. The combine of the restrooms will occur on a Monday and the Chandlee crew will work into the evening to ensure all fixtures are functioning properly before the next day.
Six additional sprinkler heads were added under a new work order. By May 2 the framing was complete and cutting of the concrete began but was not finished. The electrical work was finished two days later, the HVAC was scheduled, and the sprinklers were installed two days after that. The installation of the drywall and paneling will follow within the next two weeks along with the completion of the flooring and the installation of the restroom fixtures.
Five days later a decision was reached on the design of the restroom cabinetry as Carey waited on the owner for a decision on the counter tops. The partition doors are pre-made to save time and expense. It was decided the tops would be tiled. The painting was completed on May 24. The client requested that three of the pendant lights be relocated. Since the two original toilets are being reused we only had to order two additional ones to fill all the stalls.
Visit the website for Ladybird at http://www.ladybirdatlanta.com. Here is a link to the February 5, 2019 article in eater.com on porch dining in Atlanta: https://atlanta.eater.com/maps/best-restaurant-patios-atlanta-map. A link to another article on Eater.com dated February 2019 and titled The Ultimate List of Dog-Friendly Patios in Atlanta : https://atlanta.eater.com/maps/dog-friendly-patios-bars-atlanta. Ladybird is featured as number twelve. September 19, 2019 eater.com article mentions Ladybird Grove – it is titled Spend Twenty-four Hours Eating and Drinking Through the Old Fourth Ward. The link is: https://atlanta.eater.com/2019/9/12/20862767/24-hours-old-fourth-ward-atlanta-best-restaurants-food-crawl.