Inside Atlanta: Melissa Gallagher, founder, COCO + MISCHA

The boutique owner shares her favorite spots in Atlanta

Inside Atlanta: Melissa Gallagher

We're back with our series Inside Atlanta—each week, we sit down with influential locals to talk about what Atlanta means to them. Today we’re chatting with Melissa Gallagher, founder of the new Decatur boutique COCO + MISCHA. After working in the restaurant industry for nearly 20 years, including a stint as general manager of Holeman and Finch, Gallagher recently took a step back from food and beverage to fulfill her dream of opening a boutique in Atlanta. Located in Decatur, COCO + MISCHA, which opened in August 2016, offers vintage clothing, bath and body goods and found objects for the home.

The shop carries a number of local brands, including jewelry from Admiral Row and ceramics from Honeycomb Studio—and is a product of Gallagher’s love of shopping, arts and crafts, handmade goods, and hospitality. Today we get a tour of The Big Peach lead by Gallagher herself.

I live in… “Decatur. It's such a great community. It's youthful; there are amazing food and drink options, and it has a really nice, walkable square. In Atlanta, it's often hard to find places that you can just walk around for a few hours and shop and eat and drink. Decatur is a gem for that.”

I Wish People Knew… “that Atlanta rivals any big city in terms of culture. I think there are still a lot of misconceptions about the South, and anyone who thinks we're po-dunk is mistaken! Our food and drink scene is on par with some of the best in the world. There's tons of diversity, and it's a great creative enclave. And underneath all of that, we have a great mix of southerners and transplants that have a lot of pride in our town. We have plenty of room to grow, but that's one of my favorite things about this city right now.

We're so ripe for opportunity.”  

You Can Find Me… “In my shop, COCO + MISCHA. If I'm not there, I'm out thrift shopping, getting coffee at one of our many third wave coffee shops (Octane, Spiller Park, Taproom, Condesa, Chrome Yellow Trading, Chattahoochee, Brash) or checking out a new restaurant.”  

It’s Dinner Time, I’m headed to… “most likely Leon’s Full Service, if I'm staying in Decatur. I'm completely biased because my husband is a partner there. I worked there for years, and they're family to me. But in all honesty, they do it all well: the food, the cocktails, the wine, the beer, the coffee, the service. Their prices are extremely reasonable, they're open late, and there's something for everyone. I also think you can eat healthy there more easily than many other places. Also in Decatur, I'm a super fan of Cakes & Ale and Rising Son in Avondale Estates.

Outside of my neighborhood, BoccaLupo and Staplehouse are some of the best meals you'll ever eat in your life. I love ethnic food and spice, so I get Masala take-out pretty often. Mamak is my favorite Buford Highway pick.”  

Clock strikes 5 o’clock, I’m drinking… “grower's Champagne. I don't often Happy Hour, but if I do, it's probably at Kimball House. They always have amazing bubbles by the glass, their cocktails are some of the best in town, their food is crazy good, and there's oysters. I don't eat them, but everyone else does, so it's an easy sell to get someone to join me!”

If I Had to Stay in a Hotel, I’d check into… “The Hilton downtown with the Trader Vic's. It's a real tiki bar, 50s style with pre-mixed ingredients in a big bowl on fire with six straws. It's not mixology; it's not the best tiki drink in town, but it will transport you.”  

Atlanta’s Best Kept Secret Is… Dish Dive, Eat Me Speak Me, Bar Octopus.  If you want a unique dining experience with locals, those stand out.”  

When I’m Playing Tourist, I go to… “the Beltline. There are plenty of locals there too, and lots of people from the 'burbs, but I tend to take visitors on the walk from Krog Street Market (start with a snack there) and then walk or ride bikes to Ponce City Market for coffee (Spiller Park), more snacks (Super Pan, Botiwalla, Minero) and some shopping (Citizen Supply). You can easily hop from there to Piedmont Park and the Botanical Gardens.”  

I Get My Sweat On… “I typically run or work out at home. For running spots, I recommend the campus of Agnes Scott and the surrounding neighborhoods. Lots of trees, not much traffic. At Emory there's Lullwater Park, and there are some great (short) trails around there that are really beautiful with small waterfalls, ruins and a hanging bridge.”

I Love Spending My Money… “In Decatur. I shop at Squash Blossom, Sq/Ft, and Homegrown. For kids, Little Shop of Stories and Salon Red Kids are awesome. In other parts of town, Youngblood is one of the the best indie spots for great jewelry and handmade items. Paris on Ponce is always evolving and they have a lot of fun pop up shops. The Westside Provisions District has lots of good spots all within walking distance. I love Highland Row and Kudzu for antiques.”