Commune ATL listening room and wine bar open in Avondale

La Commune ATL opens its doors on May 8 for evening wine and music. (Photo by Isadora Pennington)

Listening Room and Wine Bar Commune ATL opens at Olive and Pine today, May 8, in the same complex as sandwich shop Leftie Lee and upcoming cocktail bar and restaurant NiteOwl.

Owned by Zopi Kristjanson and music producer and DJ Chris Devoe, Commune ATL serves a tight menu of small plates with a wine list curated by sommelier Steven Grubbs, formerly of Empire State South. Look for live music every night from DJs, musical artists and local residents spinning vinyl from their extensive collections.

Kristjanson, a musician and event planner, first met Devoe when the two worked together on a music project for a band nearly two decades ago. The pair struck up an instant friendship, which led to years of continued musical collaboration with bands and events. However, their latest collaboration sees Kristjanson and Devoe owning a new music-focused venue in Avondale Estates.

Commune ATL fuses music, wine and food in a naturally cool space. Kristjanson and Devoe want Commune to feel like you’ve walked into a friend’s casual living room equipped with a serious Hi-Fi system. (Think low-key house party vibe with a spot-on wine list and a slew of talented DJs in the booth.)

Zopi Kristjanson and Chris Devoe. (Photo by Isadora Pennington)

Beginning at 5 p.m., Commune will feature a lineup of local and national DJs, musical artists and music selectors with extensive record collections producing nightly soundtracks spanning a variety of musical genres. One night might feature a mix of funk, soul, and afrobeats, while another night might treat listeners to psych rock, glam, and punk music.

“Certain music will bring out different audiences, but we want to make it a place where people could be exposed to genres of music that they’re not familiar with,” Kristjanson said. “We want this to be the place where DJs and music selectors learn from each other and allow them to explore music in more depth. It’s a highly collaborative space.

Kristjanson and Devoe designed Commune from the ground up, including its acoustic layout, choice of sound equipment and eclectic decor.

Some design elements are second-hand or vintage finds. They acquired the benches of Commune du Cardinal; a popular cocktail bar that closed its doors at the Beacon complex in Grant Park at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Klipsch AK6 amplifier. (Photo by Isadora Pennington)
One of two vintage quilts used as decoration and soundproofing. (Photo by Isadora Pennington)

Two 19th-century quilts hang on the walls and serve as decorative and sound-absorbing panels. Other custom sound-absorbing elements affixed to the walls and ceiling also straddle the line between art and utility.

They hired acoustic designer and Cabbagetown resident Shimby McCreery and his company Acustica to customize the acoustics of the ATL Commune. McCreery contributed to the sound design of music halls such as the Sydney Opera House.

A small bar next to the DJ booth has a handful of seats, with tables for two, four and six scattered around the room.

“We lock you in a sort of cocoon. It’s intimate and you’re present with your people. All you hear and feel is music and not the outside world,” Kristjanson said.

Part of keeping people engaged in the musical experience at Commune involves food and wine.

Khinkalis or Georgian soup dumplings. (Photo by Isadora Pennington)
Herbed crème fraîche topped with smoked Georgia trout. (Photo by Isadora Pennington)
Bagna càuda with roasted spring vegetables. (Photo by Isadora Pennington)

Kristjanson and Devoe brought in Reid Albritton to run the kitchen. Having worked for chef Steven Satterfield at Miller Union, and now chef Christopher Grossman at The Chastain, Albritton highlights local ingredients and brings a seasonal sensibility to Commune’s food.

Expect an earthy mushroom pâté served with crispy crackers and bagna càuda laced with anchovies and garlic with roasted spring vegetables for dipping. Khinkalis or Georgian soup dumplings are filled with hot broth and a flavorful meatball. Homemade potato chips accompany herb-infused crème fraîche topped with shards of subtly smoked Georgia trout.

For his wine list, Grubbs wanted to keep it very focused while remaining accessible in terms of vintages and price points.

“I only put things on this list that I’m passionate about right now, which means it’s going to change often,” said Grubbs, who is also a musician. “But the prices had to be right. We don’t want to alienate anyone. Zopi, Chris and I are all old punk rockers, so we didn’t want Commune or the wine to be elitist.

Sommelier Steven Grubbs prepared the Commune ATL wine list. (Photo by Isadora Pennington)

The wine list ranges between the familiar and slightly esoteric, with prices per glass ranging from $9 to $22 and prices per bottle no higher than $68. All Commune wines are offered by the glass and bottle and include descriptive tasting notes.

In the collaborative spirit of Commune, Grubbs imagines some evenings turning into an impromptu bottle sharing where people go to other tables to pour wine and get to know each other.

“I keep thinking about the phrase ‘let’s go deep’ because it seems so superficial. But after the pandemic, it’s something more,” Kristjanson said. “Screens then occupied a large place in our lives and constituted the only means of communication. People now seem hungry for something more meaningful than online experiences. They want to be moved. Listening to music together can provide that.

Take a look at more photos from Commune ATL below.

(Photo by Isadora Pennington)
(Photo by Isadora Pennington)
(Photo by Isadora Pennington)
Chris Devoe mans the turntable near the bar. (Photo by Isadora Pennington)
(Photo by Isadora Pennington)
(Photo by Isadora Pennington)

6 Olive Street, Avondale Estates. Enter via Franklin Street. Open Wednesday to Saturday, 5 p.m. to midnight. Reservations strongly encouraged. Visit the Commune ATL website for evening musical programming.