Shannon S. Evans is all about creating experiences. “Atlanta is an event city,” Evans told Ms. X Factor. “Atlanta is starving for unique experiences and people in Atlanta like random experiences. So why not create opportunities of good food, good drinks and good people.”
Evans is a firm believer in creating opportunities that are unique and special and like nothing anyone has ever experienced before. She is about creating situations that are soulfully fulfilling, that leave an impression on the hearts, minds and spirits of those within the experience. “And truly authentic, like minded people who yearn for connections they don’t normally get to have,” she added.
“I enjoy bringing groups of people together who would possibly never end up in the same room together.”
Through her space, Studio No. 7, a 4,000 square foot event space, bar, and lounge, just blocks from the Atlanta Aquarium in downtown Atlanta, she attempts to fulfill her desires of pairing her love for food with her love of people through unique culinary experiences.
Evans purchased Studio No. 7 in 2014. It started out as a restaurant and art gallery, marrying another of her loves – photography – with food. “Initially I wanted a concept spot, based on my travels and the vibes I came to love as part of those adventures,” she said. I have always loved food, and events has always been my thing.” But as people visited, patrons kept inquiring about using the space for events.
With an inviting and unique bar, updated kitchen, two outdoor patio areas, and a comfortable lounge, one can understand why. “When would have an event we would have to make the space exclusive, which meant closing it off from restaurant patrons. For awhile I tried to make both things work.” She adjusted the dayside hours of operations, added coffee and tea to the menu, and kept the evenings for events. But after awhile, she started to feel as though she was a prisoner to the space and to the business. “Food and beverages was what I initially wanted,” she said.
“I realized that I had to allow the space to become what it wanted to become.”
Prior to opening Studio No. 7, Evans worked in corporate. She made good money as a member of the corporate communications team at the World Bank. But she wasn’t completely fulfilled. She decided world traveling photography would be much more fulfilling, packed up her belongings and shipped them to Atlanta, and jetted off to Brazil. While in Brazil, she took notice of how people communed over food and beverage.
“People would sit and talk for hours, sharing not just conversation but also beverages like beer,” she said. “Someone would purchase a bottle or two and everyone would share while engaging in conversation – without any problems or issues. It was one of the most authentic moments I had ever experienced.” She experienced very similar occurrences in other countries, like Japan for example, as well. She would just wonder the streets in certain cities, connect with perfect strangers, and soak up the experiences of authenticity.
Spring of this year, she found a way to recreate those experiences of yesterday through a series of pop up dinners called, Midnight BBQ. It began, to a certain extent, as a social experiment. Sporadic in nature, Evans gathers a group of people for a night of fellowship, with good food and good drinks. For her, she added, it is a nice opportunity to connect really cool people with other really cool people who might enjoy each other’s company.
“I am very deliberate about who I invite. Some people might know each other, but the whole purpose has been about energy,” she said, adding that since that first event, she has been surprised by the level of interest people have shown in following gathering.
“People in Atlanta are starving for unique experiences,”
she repeats, almost revelatory in the moment. “Atlanta can be very surface. The only requirement of Midnight BBQ is that you are authentic and willing to engage with people about things beyond the surface level.”
But it also is not just about her introducing dope people to other dope people. In addition to being able to birth passion, she also enjoys connecting with the diverse array of people and other creative that come into the space. She has built a support system within the Atlanta creative community. Those relationships have led to other unique experiences at Studio No. 7 beyond pop up dinners, wedding receptions and the like.
She is not sure where she will go with Midnight BBQ or Studio No. 7 for that matter. At this point, however, it does not matter. “I just want to continue creating experiences for people. I want to give people pockets of unique and authentic experiences,” she said.
“I want people to have the kind of experiences where they abandon their cellphones and technology – they forget about it because they are so caught up in the experience.” _______________________________________________
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