Visitors and residents of the Irish Hills area have been keeping an eye on the changes happening to the old Columbia Interiors building on Main Street in Brooklyn. Situated in the heart of the village square, Atlas, a new restaurant is coming, and the town is abuzz with questions and speculation.
When will it open? What kind of food will be served? What is it going to look like?
To satisfy curious minds, I reached out to the owners, Taylor Aue and Abie Baldwin to get all the details.
“We chose the name Atlas for a few reasons. The short answer is that we’re going to be featuring flavors from around the world, so Atlas seemed like a good way to convey that,” Aue said.
Aue and Baldwin gutted the building, and it needs to be renovated before Atlas can open.
“We’ve just recently completed our design work and our plans are in for permits and approvals with the village and the health department. We’re out to bid with contractors at the moment and expecting to be able to start doing some basic site prep within the next month or so, with full construction beginning mid-summer,” Aue said.
Aue and Baldwin envision Atlas as being a place to enjoy delicious food and make memories with loved ones.
Aue said, “Atlas is definitely going to have an upscale feel to it, but in a fun, relaxed and casual atmosphere. Nothing stuffy or unapproachable. No tablecloths or servers wearing ties or anything like that. For us, going to a restaurant is just as much about the atmosphere and the experience as it is the menu.”
Aue continued, “The space is going to be light and open, with lots of large comfy booths and banquettes where you can sit back, relax and enjoy a leisurely meal. We designed the dining room so that everyone can see right into the main cook line, which always adds some energy and fun to the room. Our menu features a lot of small plates and things designed for sharing so that everyone can feel comfortable trying new things and sharing that experience with their friends and family.”
Atlas will offer something unique to the Brooklyn area.
“We’re bringing flavors to Brooklyn that are new, exciting and different. We’re still working on the opening menu, but so far, we’ve got dishes from the Mediterranean, South and Central America, India, the Pacific region and more,” Aue said. “We’ll also have some more familiar favorites too. But we are focused on filling the gap in what’s available in Brooklyn rather than overlapping too much with what we already have in the area. We won’t be doing any pizza or BBQ, and I think the only reason we are even buying a deep fryer is because you can’t serve a great burger without French fries.”
Atlas is going to have a bonus feature that adds another dimension to serving the community. “We are definitely a full-service restaurant and bar first and foremost. But we discovered that the liquor license we bought also included a packaged goods license. So, we decided to expand on that and include a grab-and-go market area in the front of the restaurant for stuff like pre-made snacks and meals to go, bottles of wine and beer, and other fun stuff,” Aue said.
Aue and Baldwin both grew up in Michigan. Aue in Royal Oak and Baldwin in Brooklyn. They met and fell in love after moving to Chicago. After two decades, they decided to move back to Michigan and create something special in Brooklyn.
“Since moving to Brooklyn, Abie and I have both gotten pretty involved in the local community. Abie leads the Brooklyn Corridor Improvement Authority and I’ve been actively engaged with a lot of our local leadership and administration on various things,” Aue said.
When there was concern there wouldn’t be a Brooklyn Fourth of July Parade this year, Aue and Baldwin stepped up and offered to sponsor it. Yet, they remain humble and are quick to give credit to others.
“It’s still local residents like Danice McEldowney and local businesses like The Village Peddler who are doing the vast majority of the legwork and coordination here. We’re just handling the administrative stuff, which really isn’t much at all,” Aue said.
Are you anxious for Atlas to open? What kinds of dishes do you hope to see on the menu? I’d love to read your opinions in the comments!