Friday, January 1, 2010

Walking The Plank : DeathWatch 2010


The following is a list of eateries, retailers and in some cases hotels, that are either good as dead or should quit while they’re still solvent and stop construction now! Have someone in mind you think should be added or have an opinion on my predictions? Leave a comment and let me know.

Eateries

~Saskatoon
Its under construction location in Buckhead will be the fist franchise location for this established Greenville, SC based restaurant. While it may have done well in Greenville, the concept seems too much of a leap of faith to succeed in Buckhead aside from the fact that the space they have chosen seems to have it in for any restaurant open or planned. The space was originally built out for AFC’s “Tib’s Grill”, a full-service Cajun themed restaurant that never opened. Later Spondivits would open, and close less than a year later amidst an e coli scare. The space sat empty for years until late last fall when Harry Bissett’s opened its first location outside of Athens. Bissett’s lasted a mere five months before closing. Now, local franchisees think they can create a success in the space and to them I say… GOOD LUCK!


~AquaKnox
After coming to Atlanta from their home base of Las Vegas, eBrands has had less than a hit on their hands. Driving by their prime second level Terminus location, it’s rare to see this eatery crowded and you’d think with such a great view, it would be. Judging from the cold calls from staff to neighboring hotels requesting that they send them customers, one might conclude they’re having trouble filling tables. As I previously said, eBrands will not let this location continue to drain capital and will have to give up on this in the first quarter of 2010.


~The Dolce Group (Ten Pin Alley, Geisha House. Dolce)
This set of “destination” attractions is anything but! While the food is OK at Dolce, the price does not justify either the quantity or the quality of the food. Perhaps this concept could do well in a place like Miami or maybe Toronto, but certainly not in Atlantic Station surrounded by Old Navy and American Eagle Outfitters.
Like Straits, it had celebrity backers, maybe too proud to declare failure. If the partners want to save cash, they should save what dignity they have left and admit that they set their sights too high opening three concepts in an unproven and ill-suited development. I have heard they are currently trying to get out of their multi-year leases but are running into problems in finding another sucker to take their leases.


~Emerald Coast Coffee & Grille
With Terminus already in trouble, the last thing it needed was this. With the far superior F2o not far away in the Sovereign building and Chick-Fil-A in Terminus, Emerald Coast does not stack up against other nearby offerings. Not only that, its main beverage, coffee, is readily available at Caribou and Starbucks to the left and right of their front door. I went in myself and had one of their “signature” smoothies and was amazed at the fact that the smoothie tasted more like sugar water than blended fruit. Yogurberry, around the corner, makes far better tasting smoothies with seemingly fresher ingredients. Having been by since my initial visits to see what business was like, I have never seen more than a handful of patrons in at any time, lunch or dinner. I see Emerald Coast closing sometime in the second quarter of 2010.


~Ixtlan Ultra Lounge
Piebar, from established restaurateur Bob Amick, could not make it, nor could Eros, and now Ixtlan wants to tempt fate. How about saving yourself some headaches and money and closing now? Great space, turn an old bank into a chic bar / restaurant, kudos to Ammick on the space. The major problems are A., parking, and B., insufficient indoor dining for cold or inclement weather. I doubt this new concept will last till summer.


Retail

~Martin + Osa
This brand from American Eagle is destined for closure. Similar to the failures of new concepts from other clothing specialty stores, Martin + Osa has never made the numbers necessary to justify keeping it open. Martin + Osa has an interesting concept, it caters to an older crowd than its sibling retailer American Eagle Outfitters and competes more with J. Crew and Banana Republic. Just as GAP experienced with its Forth and Towne brand and Abercrombie & Fitch with its Ruehl No. 925, these new concepts were only popular with a very small niche of the consumer public. Appealing to such a small market made it difficult to expand and even more difficult to keep existing stores open. The announcement that this chain will be discontinued will probably come before this coming summer.


~Rowdy
Launched by local music producer Dallas Austin, Rowdy is a clothing label to which there is no comparison. Basically all the apparel is flashy and might be anyone’s designs. You can’t just enter the clothing business and set your prices at such an elevated level. Just as Andre 3000 found out with his Benjamin Bixby line, the fact that you are a famous musician does not necessarily translate into a successful career in fashion. While exceptions such as P. Diddy’s “Sean Jean” label and Jay Z’s “Rocawear” do exist, most forays by musicians into clothing end in failure. Both Benjamin Bixby and Rowdy entered the market at higher price points than either Sean Jean or Rocawear and that may be a factor in their sluggish sales. Rowdy and Benjamin Bixby were both carried by Neiman Marcus but were both discontinued from most locations after just two seasons. Wisely, Bixby never set up its own boutique; Rowdy on the other hand did, in the “Luxury Wing” of Lenox Square. Merchandising at the store is basically non-existent as the windows have remained the same since opening. Never busy and seemingly out of place amongst the more understated Cartier and Ferragamo, it’s only a matter of time before this store closes. While I understand that mall management is looking to fill empty space with local retailers, perhaps they will be a little more selective. Not knowing how long a lease was signed, or if simply a "short-term" lease was signed, I can't really give a closure prediction, but the sooner, the better.


~Taste
Not much to say here other than to question why it’s made it this far. Bow Wow’s mother opened Taste in Atlantic Station and should have stuck to just being Bow Wow’s mom, not a retail failure. Similar to what happened to Jazzy Pha's "Knitch" in Atlantic Station, the store stocked high-end designer merchandise, but soon found the clients it catered to do not and would not shop at Atlantic Station, as a result, the store closed. It's doubtful this store will make it to spring.


Hotels

~The Mansion on Peachtree, A Rosewood Hotel and Residences
As anyone will say, great location, beautiful interior and spacious rooms but you need more than that to be successful. Whereas the Intercontinental is marginally further away from Lenox Square, it does have a far more welcoming lobby. Though the Mansion was blessed with a great address, it had to build up, rather than out, a clear factor in their stuffy lobby. Many visitors have described the lobby, and much of the hotel for that matter, as “sterile” not the word you want used to describe the first thing guests experience upon their arrival. With the hotel facing foreclosure, its unknown what will happen to the hotel and or if a name change will occur. Personally, I would not put it past Horst Schulze to put his West Paces Hotel Group in the running to either operate or acquire the property. Schulze, best known for his leadership at Ritz-Carlton Hotel Group, founded the West Paces Hotel Group and their two luxury brands Capella and Solis. It’s likely something will happen to the hotel within the next 90 days, but it’s doubtful the Mansion will be the same this time next year.

Already 'Watched by ToNeTo Atlanta

Thrive

13 comments:

OryG said...

These aren't in the city, but I'm sad to see the Super Target in Stone Mountain Village and Z Gallerie in Perimeter leaving. Do you know if Z Gallerie in Atlantic Station is safe?

Atlantan99 said...

Hello OryG,

With regards to the Super Target, as it is out of the city I was unaware but am not totally shocked given the area. More Wal-Mart territory though that was one of first Target Super Centers I ever visited. As for Z-Gallerie, I would not be shocked to see them close at Atlantic Station. If a store like that can't survive in Dunwoody, I don't see Atlantic Station having more business, but less. Please see http://tonetoatlanta.blogspot.com/2009/04/z-gallerie-files-for-chaptel-11_8449.html for more details on their Chapter 11 filing earlier this year.

Thanks for sharing and following my blog.

Eli

Anonymous said...

The new Genki at the Prado is struggling, Cheeseburger in Paradise is slow, and can't believe Cocktail Cove is still making it.

Anonymous said...

What about "Hobnob", set to open at the old Ansley Caribou space?

Atlantan99 said...

Hmm, had heard bout "Hobnob" a few weeks back, nothing lately. You live nearby? Whats the word?

Anonymous said...

any idea of what's going on at Painted Table Cafe in Grant Park? I've gone once for dinner and once for brunch. Dinner was ok, not great and brunch was a disaster. I didn't see their lights on earlier this week during dinner hours.

Atlantan99 said...

Hello,

I have not made it in myself but have heard mixed reviews. According to a rep from the eatery, they are closed for dinner service due to the weather. Open till 4 today for lunch and hope to resume normal business hours next week, open till 9.

Thanks for reading!

Chip Shoulder said...

Truva - opened in the old Steak and Ale on Peachtree Center downtown.

I think they bill themselves as a luxe Turkish lounge/restaurant. A week ago they had American flags and stars-and-stripes bunting completely covering the place. Reminds me of the Simpson's episode where Marge's investing club opens a falafel truck, but calls the falafel "All-American crunch patties."

I don't see enough conventioneers stopping in for a nice SICAK MEZELER to keep this place open very long. And that reminds me of another Simpson's episode: "Sometimes I think you want to fail!"

Anonymous said...

How about "Across the Street" on Highland? Tried to go to dinner there last night and they were closed. When we walked by there on Sunday at noon it was a ghost town

Atlantan99 said...

Hello Anon,

I had heard that as well about "Across The Street". Perhaps I will add them to the next update, if they remain open until then...

Thanks for the comment and reading the blog!

E

Anonymous said...

Um, take a tip from eater in ny, the original deathwatch. They decided it was uncouth to keep listing deathwatch restaurants in a time of recession. But I guess you people in Atlanta have nothing better to do, and besides, you never supported your good restaurants anyway.

Atlantan99 said...

Anon,

I'm not about being uncouth but if I see that a business is doing things that I feel will lead to their demise, I write about it. This is meant to inform the public and inform the business owner so that they may take corrective action. This section has been one of the more popular topics on this blog and I invite anyone to challenge me, or in some cases, agree with my assessments.

Thanks for the comment, Eater's removal of the DW is duly noted.

Anonymous said...

While some people may criticize your death watch, I know that you also do a lot of good for new restaurants that are about to open by making the public aware of them before they open and helping to create buzz which gets picked up by bloggers and media in the area. Keep doing what you're doing...don't change a thing.

Billy/ @restaurantsatl