Looking For Coffee, Fearing Walkers, and Finding District 12 in Atlanta

One of the cool things about living in Atlanta is knowing that many major motion pictures and television shows are filmed here. There’s always a chance that you’ll stumble upon places where your favorites are shot.  One day I went hunting for a new coffee spot and (hopefully) a new WriteSpace and ended up on an unforgettable adventure!

THE GOAT FARM ARTS CENTER is home to many creative studios… fashion designers, graphic artists, photographers, filmmakers, and more. It’s tucked away in a remote corner of midtown, barely visible from any street. You either know it’s there… or you don’t.

At first glance, it seems abandoned… and that, I believe, is completely by design. Seemingly rundown brick warehouses, makeshift shanty-like structures… wood, rusting metal, and chicken wire everywhere… and yes, random goats and roosters meandering about not acknowledging the presence of people or cars. An absolutely perfect setting for post-apocalyptic epics, phenomenally dope photo shoots, and eclectically themed events.

 

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So… why was I there? On that particularly day, I was on a mission to find WARHORSE COFFEE.

I learned about it on Instagram from a friend who mentioned them in a post. “It’s at The Goat Farm,” he says. Easy enough. I’ve been there before… shouldn’t be too hard to find, right? HA!

IMG_0520I parked and walked around looking for any indication that there was a civilized coffee shop in this compound.  There is a sign… tattered and weather-worn for Warhorse Coffee, but the arrow on the sign that would point in the direction of where it is has been rubbed off… and it looks on purpose.  Hmmmm.

Of course, there is not a living soul around except for the random barn animals looking at me like an unwanted intruder as I walk sort of aimlessly all over looking for this place.  No more signs.  No sounds.  No people.  This is like some Walking Dead shit, here.  No kidding.

So, I’m heading down a gravel path towards the entrance to a  short tunnel that maybe a train passed through back in the day and I stop.  I’m starting to get a tad bit nervous.  Either two things are about to happen… Walkers are going to round that corner at the end of this tunnel or I’m going to hear Negan whistles.    Just as I am about to say “F-you, Warhorse! No coffee shop is worth dying for!” a woman appears… from a hidden door in the side of the tunnel  (<– not kidding) and starts heading up the path toward me.  She’s clean… and human… and smiles when she says “hi,” so I ask her… “Can you tell me where the hell is Warhorse Coffee?”  She chuckles, as this, I’m sure, has to be a common question.  “Of course, I can! I do their accounting! It’s this way… I’ll show you…”  And she leads me down the path towards the tunnel… and I no longer fear there will be Walkers at the end of it.

As we walk, I tell her about my pilgrimage around the compound looking for Warhorse, but not daring to enter the tunnel and why.  “It’s funny you should say that,” she says, “because The Walking Dead has filmed here.”   No surprise there.  I asked her about the Warhorse sign and the missing arrow and she just grinned.  Hmmmm.

“Have you seen The Hunger Games,” she asked as we approached the end of the tunnel to which I replied yes.  “This is the area of District 12 where Katniss and the others enter the square for the reaping.”   We walk out of the darkness and I see it exactly as it was in the movie as she points and waves her hands to show me where things were built for the production.  It was so surreal!  I went from fearing my death by Walker bite to volunteering as Tribute in all of 10 minutes!  It was awesome!

And there was Warhorse Coffee tucked behind it all… looking like a ghost town saloon.

PicMonkey CollageAs I tell  the accountant (whose name I have clearly forgotten) how I would have never found this place in a million years because I would have never thought to walk this far and this deep into The Goat Farm, she explains how that is entirely on purpose.   The owner planned it that way (hence the vagueness of the sign and the fact that you find next to nothing about it or the location on the internet).  He wants everyone coming to Warhorse to go on a little adventure to find it.  Mission completely accomplished.

Inside Warhorse is like a thrift store-museum combo filled with vintage furnishings and media nostalgia. If you are a writer or photographer, you will salivate over the typewriters and cameras of yesteryear artfully displayed as if they were carelessly left by their owners.

While it is open to the public, it’s there specifically for the creatives that call The Goat Farm home to have a place to relax, chill, and have a cup of coffee/tea.  For that reason, there is no formal charge for the beverages.  You pay what you can spare… even if it’s nothing.  This place truly appreciates artists and that there are bigger things that required our hard earned money.

I’m kind of mad that I spent most of the time I had set aside for writing walking around looking for this place, but it was well worth the pursuit.  The creative energy that surrounds that entire complex is infectious.  I’m planning to get some on me again… and again.

 

See my periscope adventure through The Goat Farm and Warhorse Coffee (apologies for the video orientation in advance… it’s periscope’s fault)

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