Running an errand near GSU, I couldn't help but notice that Yoeshi and One Cafe Blanc were plastered with signs stating that they were closed "due to lease issues" from 5/18-5/24, yet as of this past weekend, they remain closed. A statement issued on their Facebook page on the 18th stated that they were closed for "lease negotiations," yet nothing has been said since. If you ask me, the "issue" is that now they likely want to negotiate a new lease, having determined that whatever they are paying is too great a financial burden to allow the business to stay afloat. As I've said before,to locate where they did (Renaissance Walk at 171 Auburn Avenue, a now foreclosed upon property) and to serve all that they do (crepes, burritos, Fro-Yo, salads, and sushi), all decent but not amazing, was not a good idea or a well thought out business. Now especially, as nearby Georgia State is out for the summer, and the nearby dorms are nearly vacant, downtown residents are far more likely to make the trip to Sweet Auburn Curb Market than to Renaissance Walk. Never one to hold back, I said from day one that this place would be in trouble and here we are. I placed them on the DeathWatch even before opening and it seems they are earning their place.
Around the corner, on the Auburn Avenue side of Renaissance Walk, The Sweet Auburn Bistro, which opened in March of last year, has a similar sign posted, with a re-opening date that passed without the place re-opening.
"Sweet Auburn Bistro will be closed for renovations beginning Monday May 24th We will Re-Open June 2nd at 11am."
While the doors and windows at Yoeshi / One Cafe Blanc were all free of obstruction, Sweet Auburn was a different story, with paper basically covering the doors and windows from the inside. When I stopped by to have a look on June 1st, mid-day, I peeked in through a small hole in the paper and it did not appear that renovations were in progress. The place looked abandoned. I placed a number of calls to the number listed on their website but never reached anyone. The sign directs interested parties to go to their website to make future reservations, but this would be difficult, as the link from their website to OpenTable takes you to "We're sorry, but the restaurant you requested could not be found," in essence saying that an online reservation is an impossibility. Multiple sources also tell me the owner, believed to be Glen Law, had not been paying his employees in recent weeks, and many have already sought employment elsewhere.
As I said, Renaissance Walk as a whole went into foreclosure months ago and currently the ownership seems in limbo. Interestingly, Gene Kansas Developments is listed on their website as in charge of retail leasing, and Patrick Busko as the agent to contact. A call to Gene Kansas uncovered that A, Mr. Busko is no longer an employee and B, Gene Kansas is no longer representing the property. The leasing office within the property seems either poorly staffed or not staffed at all as I was unsuccessful in reaching anyone at the number for the better part of a week. Given this, its unclear to me with whom lease negotiations may be taking place.
With both of these eateries, it seems as though posting misleading and confusing signs is how their proprietors chose to communicate with the public, something that has unfortunately been done in the past with little success. Readers will recall that The Grape Inman Park, owned by music star Usher, "closed for renovations," never to reopen (it's now Pure Taqueria) . Larry's Giant Subs in Sembler's Prado development in Sandy Springs also closed for what they referred to as a remodel, but over a year later, has still not re-opened. Not to knock anyone, but it seems clear to me that the problem starts with site selection, and continues with management and marketing. It's sad to see so many places closing, but as friends and I have noticed, far too many people, entrepreneurs or not, have the "I like food, I know others like food, I'm gonna open up a restaurant!" mentality. Never mind the lack of planning, or in some cases lack of funding, too many places are being opened only to fail shortly thereafter. ToNeTo Atlanta
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