The Atlanta office of Huge, an agency known for its work in the digital space, is going offline to create a new kind of buzz.
This week, Huge opened its own public coffee shop at 1375 Peachtree St. as the agency looks for a new way expand its user-first approach by actually bringing consumers in the door.
Huge Cafe's coffee is sourced and roasted locally specially for the shop by local roaster Brash Coffee, which has its own coffee shop in Chattanooga with a second opening in Atlanta this month. Huge Cafe will also have a small Japanese-inspired food menu.
The agency's neighborhood is a bit of a creative hub for the city, with the Atlanta campus of the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), Georgia Institute of Technology, the High Museum of Art, the Museum of Design Atlanta and other ad agencies all within a few blocks.
"For a long time, we've wanted to have a consumer-facing retail extension of the Huge brand and to have our own retail business," Huge's Atlanta managing director, Michael Koziol, said. "The idea of a coffee shop fits very well with the culture."
Huge's Atlanta office, which has grown rapidly since its creation in 2013, moved into a new office space in Atlanta's Midtown neighborhood earlier this year. Koziol said the agency felt like there was a need for a neighborhood coffee shop focused on fostering creative and cultural discussion. But the agency also wanted something that reflect Huge itself.
"There's this feeling that it's really this intense pride for what we do," Koziol said, "and also why we do it and where we do it. The idea that working for Huge and being close to the Huge brand is very meaningful for all the professionals that we have in the company. And this is a way for you to invite your friends, your family, your former coworkers and other people to be a part of it in a retail way."
It's not the first time in recent months that an agency has entered the food business. In May, Boston agency Breakaway opened the first location for its new fast-casual pizza shop, Oath Craft Pizza.
For the coffee shop, Huge is partnering with local restaurateur Karl Injex and his wife, Mouna Issa, who have both taken on roles as partners and operators of Huge Cafe.
Injex said his inspiration for both the taste and feel for the place is "wabi-sabi," a Japanese aesthetic focused on imperfection and simplicity.
"One of the guiding principles with the food and beverage program is very Japanese," Injex said. "There's a lot of looking for the simplest and most direct solution, but also being organic, kind of the wabi-sabi idea, not trying to manipulate things."
Koziol said Huge will hold various events at Huge Cafe focused on testing new ideas, gathering new ones and fostering conversation about creativity and innovation. He said the coffee shop itself will in a way become an R&D facility.
"Now that we have a business that is a b-to-c business that we own and operate, we need to make sure that we bring those same ideas not just to our clients and the people they serve, but also people we serve coffee to every day."