Editor’s note: A recent oil change led to a thought-provoking conversation about urban issues and big-city growing pains with Nash Tehrani, owner of Autohaus Social in Midtown, around the corner from Ponce City Market. 

Tehrani is a proponent of alternate transportation—as ironic as that sounds—who transformed a vacant, 1950s former thrift store on Monroe Drive into an auto shop and enthusiasts lounge that manages to be both stylish and useful to the community. But the Atlanta native’s business is bursting at the seams—almost literally—and facing challenges on several fronts, making it difficult to squeeze all customers in. 

We suggested Tehrani put his concerns in writing, in the form of the letter below:


Don’t hate me for saying it, on a website like this, but I am an automotive enthusiast. I love cars. I enjoy motorsports, car shows, and how the car culture can bring people of all lifestyles together. 

However, I absolutely don’t feel cars should be the main source of transportation for large cities. When they are, it just doesn’t work.

Having grown up in Atlanta’s intown neighborhoods, it amazes me how much the city has grown and changed the past 30 years. Developing a more robust public transportation system should be a critical, urgent goal in our city’s future—but unfortunately, it is not. That being the case, when possible, I feel we need to utilize other modes of transportation, such as bicycles, e-scooters, and MARTA. You’ll often find me on a bike, in fact, pedaling around the city. 

I actually came across the empty building that’s become Autohaus Social one day as I was cycling to work. When I saw the “For Sale” sign on the property, I knew I wanted to purchase it and create an automotive business. The building was in such disrepair, honestly, that a teardown may have been more cost-effective. It wasn’t historically protected, so razing it was an option. However, I loved the vibe of the structure and wanted to save it, because I felt it complemented the Ponce/Monroe corridor.  

After an extensive one-year renovation, we opened our doors in September 2018. 

The 733 Monroe Drive building as before, and after renovations in 2018. Courtesy of Autohaus Social

We hit the ground running, and fortunately, the concept worked. There were not many European auto repair shops in the heart of town. With so many Atlanta car owners and enthusiasts nearby, I thought a mechanic shop would be a needed service. I’m proud to say that hunch was correct. Autohaus Social was in the black within the first four months of business. 

During this time, we also hosted social events, not only for the automotive community, but also for local neighborhood groups such as the MNA, Midtown Neighbors Association. Another example was when we hosted a group of 20 Midtown High School students. They conducted a one-hour tour of our facility where our Director of Operations and Shop Foreman discussed the ins and outs of the automotive career path. The surrounding neighborhoods have been very supportive of us, and we’re grateful to be able to provide the service. This isn’t The Fast and the Furious—it’s an honest local business. We cater to as many Volkswagens and Mini Coopers as BMWs and Porsches.

During year two, business continued to rapidly grow, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re now in our third year and have simply outgrown our current location.

I’ve spoken with architects about expanding the current shop, but given the tight intown lot, that’s only a Band-Aid solution. Victims of our success, you might say. But in a growing, urbanizing city, it’s not the easiest problem to solve. 

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I’ve been looking for an intown property to start a second location for almost a year. It’s been a very difficult endeavor, to say the least. 

Cost of intown property has significantly increased, zoning regulations are challenging (if not outright hostile toward new auto-related businesses), and parking is a huge issue for many business owners.

I’m hopeful I’ll find a site that will work well for my second location, but I’d be lying to say the process hasn’t been frustrating. 

Courtesy of Autohaus Social

I’ve been considering neighborhoods such as Chosewood Park, West End, Mechanicsville, East Atlanta, and a few others. I’m hesitant to go too far from the center of town, as I worry that my current customers won’t want to travel that distance. Plus, there’s a higher percentage of European cars around Midtown. But prices in the area have become prohibitive. 

I’m not sure the demand exists for our services outside this area, but I love the idea of creating new jobs, developing a new customer base, and making services easier for our existing customers. As a small business owner, I might be priced out of the locations where my business would thrive—or maybe not.

Even with these challenges, I’m hopeful the right solution will eventually present itself, and that there’s a place for a business like this to thrive as my town continues to grow up.

Recent Midtown news, discussion (Urbanize Atlanta)