Atlas Coffee to serve up Italian experience

dish-atlas-outlawsWoody and Ruth Outlaw with their daughters (and future baristas) Pearl and Esther, during the renovation of Atlas Coffee on Fontaine Avenue.

In Italy they belly up to coffee bars the way we belly up to bars, lined up close together and leaning, working class men and women sipping espresso from those dainty cups as the baristas furiously work the gleaming, steaming, and elegant-looking espresso machines, pounding out spent grounds, packing in fresh rounds, and locking down levers as fast as an artillery squad during a barrage.

That won't exactly be the scene at Atlas Coffee, a new coffee 'bar' opening on Fontaine Avenue–- right beside Guadalajara in the old Jackson Hewitt Tax Service space–- but the owners say they'd like to be closer to an authentic Italian espresso experience than the typical American one, something the tiny space should lend itself to nicely.

"We see the small space as an asset because it will allow us to interact more with the customers," says Ruth Ellen Outlaw, one-fourth of the two couples–- and mother to more than one of the five children between them–- who have partnered on the venture. "Instead of the stand-up counters that you see in Italy, however, we'll have stools, and we'll have outdoor seating in nice weather."

For Outlaw and her husband, Woody, the move harkens back to their restaurant days–they met in Washington State at a restaurant that served Starbucks Coffee when it was a little roasting operation in Seattle, and in the late 1980s they cooked together at The Inn at Little Washington. Ruth would go on to become an architect, getting her masters at UVA, and working for a time with VMDO Architects. In 1999, she started her own firm, Outlaw Design. Meanwhile, her husband Woody is a partner in Hydro Solutions, Inc., a water treatment firm. It seemed their restaurant days were long over.

"The idea was born on a riverside camping trip with friends," says Outlaw," sitting around the fire."

dish-visitdishOutlaw says she was complaining that her design business had slowed down during the recession and her friend Lorie Craddock, who, with her husband, Michael Manto, make up Atlas Coffee's brain trust, suggested opening a restaurant together. The Craddock/Mantos, both flight attendants, wanted their life to be a little more grounded.

"I told her she was nuts," says Outlaw. "There was no way would I would get back in the restaurant business."

However, Outlaw did start to warm to the idea of a coffee bar.

"I could feed my personal latte addiction, and have fun doing it," she says. "Lorie and Michael travel the world as flight attendants and are able to frequent the coffee bars in Amsterdam and other European airline hubs, and the Fry's Spring area is a coffee desert, compelling us and others to drive over hill and dale for good espresso."

Atlas Coffee's espresso will be made from Shenandoah Joe coffee, says Outlaw, and they'll be selling whole bean coffee and accessories as well. Carpe Donut donuts and pastries from other local bakers will also be offered. Look for them to be open sometime around mid-January.

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I suspect people will weep with joy at the arrival of real espresso in Fry's Spring. I will.

Stop with the accessories, already! No Italian bar would ever sell anything except tremazzini, briosche, and biscotti.
I look forward to going there! and don't forget the Gazzetto dello Sport for the lounge lizards to look at! And stop making such a huge deal about a cup of coffee! It's a regular thing in Italy.

the second of the two couples? yeah, those are my parents. i see many summer jobs in my future.

Ok, Give us a hint regards the town this coffee bar will be in.

Atlas Coffee will open in Charlottesville, Virginia, and hopefully Doug lives nearby. Fun photos of us doing demolition are on Facebook.

another coffee shop! Whoopty fringin doo .

Lonnie Was that you sitting with Don Corleone?

I once visited a little coastal Northern Italian village for a family wedding. What I remember about breakfast was the inherent simplicity of breakfast. They had fresh focaccia (Which was very different than what you get here) and prosciutto, and some fruit along with Caffš macchiato. I don't remember many pastries (although nearby bakeries carried lots of them).

In fact, most of what I remember that was best about the food in that small town was that it was all made fresh from local ingredients from whatever was in season. It was a revelation to me that the reason Italian food has spices like thyme and oregano is because that is what was growing wild around them in the mountains. That experience was what convinced me that local food makes sense, if for no other reason than it results in better tasting food.

You could print out the English translation of the "Gazzetta del Sport."

Should have landmarked Anna's pizza along with the Beta house...

Congrats to all! The Texas Manto's will be over for a cup soon!!

Here here Kosmo!

Molto bene!

No sipping allowed. Drink your dang espresso already.

Mother of 2/5 of the five children here, but sadly I cannot count Margaret M as one of my own. I know what biscotti is, but we'll need to be enlightened as to what tremazzini and briosche are. Will the Hook serve as a suitable substitute for the Gazzetto dello Sport or should we provide Sports Illustrated for customers to peruse?

YES! As a Fry's Spring resident, I can't wait for a coffee shop to come into our neighborhood.