Monday, July 26, 2010

ToNeTo Atlanta DeathWatch Update : Third Quarter


With so many comments on my post in April, the second DeathWatch of 2010, it seems that it's still a popular feature of this blog. Thus far in 2010, my closure predictions of Aquaknox, Pizza Fusion, Urban Flats, Martin + Osa , Ixtlan Ultra Lounge and Harlem Bar all came to fruition. While I not happy to see this happen, there's no denying the accuracy of my predictions. Don't for a minute think that I arbitrarily add businesses to the Deathwatch. I examine the business and appraise the likelihood of them remaining viable and if not, for how long they will last. D.B.A. Barbecue and La Paz were re-evaluated and removed from the list. La Paz improved their Yelp rating and regained their liquor license. In the case of D.B.A., I had received some information I now know to be untrue. With this in mind, please find the new list after the jump


Eateries

~Auburn Jake's - Sweet Auburn Bistro was a flop in the same space, what better thing for the same owners to do than open up a seemingly higher end eatery in the same space. This has failure written all over it. Why someone, or group of investors would see this as a wise investment is beyond me. The development is in a financial mess with Bank of America and no restaurant, retailer or otherwise (Smoothie King is hanging on for now as it's quick and in a small space) will make it in this project.

~57th Fighter Restaurant - After opening for the third time, the restaurant seems doomed for another closure. Its greatest asset, its cozy, hidden location next to PDK, is also its greatest weakness, as passersby don't realize it's there. I hope they can turn it around once and for all but I think they need to do a better job of marketing and promoting the restaurant.

~Cantina Taqueria & Tequila Bar - Similar to the story below, this Here to Serve concept is just taking up space for now. Its shelf life is probably 10 months. Lola opened as Italian, then became Mediterranean, then closed. Now we have a Mexican concept, the cuisine du jour for restaurateurs to open. With the restaurant still located in logistical hell Terminus, it may be time to hop on the burger bandwagon. Catherall already replaced his Hispanic chef with an American, I say bring back "That's a Burger!," his shuttered Colony Square burger joint.

~Coast Seafood & Raw Bar - Having just opened in what was previously Seeger's, Posh and Home, there's not much hope for this concept right off the bat. As good (or bad) as the food may turn out to be, it's just a bad location. Seeger's was great, but it became impossible to make a go of it with a space so small. Here to Serve wisely added outdoor patio dining during the Home days, but in doing so, took valuable parking from the front. With the St. Regis across the street, one would think they could get enough business to survive, but that assumption means I'm saying the St. Regis has diners to send, which more often than not, it doesn't. Things are sure to get interesting when The Big Ketch Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill opens in the old Taco Stand later this Fall. With a more casual environment and ample parking, The Big Ketch is sure to give Coast a run for their money, if they last that long.

~Emerald Coast Coffee & Grille - As reader Andy stated shortly after opening "So, the closing of the AFC Starbucks doesn't tell us anything about the oversupply of coffee shop options in the terminus area where they are flanked by a Caribou on one side and a Starbucks on the other with a CFA and Flying Biscuit that both do pretty good coffee" There are a plethora of other and better coffee options in and around Terminus. I had one of their "smoothies," more like fluffed sugar, that didn't even taste good. I rarely see it busy or hear much talk about it- good or bad. I'm not the Wizard of Emerald City but I do see this place going under by year's end.

~Saskatoon - After finally opening in the swiftly shuttered Harry Bissetts Buckhead, the restaurant never seems busy and is not in the best of locations. The first franchised location for Greenville, South Carolina-based Saskatoon, the flagship is not nearly as popular as some have been made to think. This is not the right time for another steakhouse in Buckhead, especially such a niche market with elk, bison and ostrich offerings. Given current economic conditions and lack of activity at the restaurant, this restaurant will more than likely be extinct no later than the first quarter of 2011.

~Slack's Hoagie Shack dba Slack's Restaurant and Bar - You already know how I feel about this place. Simply put, bad idea, plus bad location plus unproven concept equals failure. I'm told the franchisee is a retired millionaire who is opening the place for kicks, so I guess it may stay open as long as he has "play money" to sink into it.

~Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft - After opening last November in what was my favorite SoBu eatery, Taurus, Tuk Tuk Thai loft has been anything but impressive, let alone busy. The second level restaurant went through a total makeover Charlie and Nan Niyomkul created successful restaurants in Nan Thai Fine Dining and Tamarind Seed at Colony Square but this newest concept may be a sign their magic touch has faded. Tamarind Seed at Colony Square took the place of repeated failed concepts by Here To Serve: Piri Piri and later, That's A Burger! A colleague of mine dined here shortly after opening and remarked it should be called "Yuk Yuk" (Yuck Yuck). The food is overpriced for being billed as "street food" and its just not as good as the Niyomkul's other concepts. Baroni's impending opening in the former Wolfgang Puck Express is sure to do more harm than good for this already struggling concept.

~Twisted Taco (Tucker) - One of a number of recent franchised locations to open, this one has not met the expectations of many area patrons and is not in the best location. Having taken over a failed Chili's restaurant, Twisted Taco Tucker faces nearby competition from Marlow's Tavern within the nearby DoubleTree Hotel and has been ripped a new one by patrons on sites like Yelp. I doubt they will make it past January.

~Urban PL8 - Pangaea, Milk & Honey: this space is not meant for a restaurant. Try as many have to make it work, it does not have the space to do the number of covers necessary to make a go of it. I went to the opening and loved the nut burger and if the place were not so far off the beaten path, I think it could work, and might even exceed expectations. To rely on Turner employees and word of mouth marketing may work for Antico Pizza, but this place is in trouble and doomed.

~The Wafflery - Serving up Belgian Waffles and Crepes, this place is kidding themselves. Even Cinnabon, the prior eatery at the same location realized you can't make it on just a couple of foods. Cinnabon announced a few weeks ago that it will soon begin offering breakfast and lunch options such as egg sandwiches and paninis. The Wafflery, while a unique concept to the Atlanta market, does not have the staying power or product variety to make it a success, especially in high rent Lenox Square.

~Yoeshi and One Cafe Blanc - Yoeshi and One Cafe Blanc finally opened in early April after months of delays. Barely 45 days later, signs were posted on each restaurant's exterior doors as well as their Facebook page alerting would-be patrons that they would be closed from 5/18 through 5/24. They have yet to reopen. I stopped by last week and part of the insulation within Yoeshi is falling down and obstructing the entrance. While I did hear that they recently applied for a new liquor license under the name "One 4 All Kitchen." For the record, their phone has been disconnected for upwards of a month.

~Yoreka - In a city now overrun with local and national yogurt joints, this one does not stack up. While their name is among the more memorable and smart, I normally don't patronize places purely on the creativity of their name. Personally a fan of Yogurberry, Yogli Mogli and the Yogurt Tap in Decatur, my one trip to Yoreka was a waste. They have few flavors, none out-of -this-world amazing like the Graham Cracker Marshmallow at Yogurt Tap or the Taro at Yogurberry. The one person working at the time seemed to hate her job and when I walked out unimpressed, gave me the death stare. Whoever selected this location did a poor job, selling yogurt you need more visibility. Not the best... or even near the top in area yogurt options. A bad location and no differentiating factor make this place approach their expiration date.

**********

Reader Submitted

~EVOS ( Midtown and The Prado) - I've been here a couple times, and while the food was pretty good, I don't think it has caught on or will catch on enough in the Atlanta market. Based in Tampa, Florida, the locations the local franchisee chose or had selected have been pretty poor. The Prado, as mentioned above does not provide the necessary traffic or visibility to launch a new concept in the market. The Viewpoint on Peachtree is not much better as it has a fair amount of walk by traffic and great visibility but basically no easily accessible parking. Not quite ready for this concept in Atlanta. The Prado location is probably the worst. Wish 'em luck but it won't be easy.

~Genki (The Prado) - Genki expanded from its popular Buckhead outpost on Roswell Road to the Prado last year and it could not have been a worse decision. One Roswell in Buckhead, the eatery is on a prime stretch of Roswell just before it merges into Peachtree. I don't know the exact traffic counts, but they are high. Sadly though, in the Prado, tucked in the back of the center, near Joli Kobe and 5 Seasons Brewery, there is far less traffic and Genki is surrounded by EVOS and Yoreka among others, all having a tough time as well. Larry's Giant Subs already threw in the towel in the adjacent storefront.

~Sauced - Ria Pell may have over-extended herself with this addition. Ria's Bluebird has been a local fav for years but this new concept has not been so much a hit as a dud. A cash only policy has only made things worse. Given recent managerial changes, an unnamed reader of this blog sees their demise imminent.

~Truva - They recently added outdoor dining but I doubt that will save them. Their Mediterranean cuisine is OK, but not the best by any means. They did what they could with the former Steak and Ale space but it just does not "Seduce your senses". My reader predicts they will last no longer than next Spring.


Retail


~Bloomingdale's (Perimeter Mall) - A far cry from the offerings of New York or even Lenox, this store's service is trumped by even Chick-Fil-A. Bloomingdale's Perimeter has yet to meet expectations and is shrinking its saleable floor space almost as fast as new Tiger Woods mistresses came forward. I won't go into all the interactions I have personally experienced at this location but let's just say they leave much to be desired. Management has yet to wake up and acknowledge the issues that plague their store, and as such, the store's sales and reputation have suffered. If Federated wants to improve their bottom line, they will close this store no later than the first quarter of 2011.

~Barney's New York CoOp - Similar story to that of fellow Phipps retailer Jedal, Barney's is lucky enough to have deeper pockets by way of Istithmar, a private equity firm that purchased Barney's from Jones Apparel Group in 2007 for $825 Million. Once rumored to be on the map for a Barney's New York flagship, Atlantans have proven they can't support such high end and cutting edge designers by the lack of support and sales for even the CoOp. If this store is not closed by February 2011, I'll be surprised.

~Coposhi - What a joke! With limited parking, not clearly marked (in the rear of the store), the first problem starts before you even get inside. The store is pretty cool, bi-level with some creative merchandising. Driving by the store you can't tell what the heck it is or if they're open. I guess they spent all their money on the store interior and merchandise as all they have is a Twitter last updated June 13th and a "person" Facebook in terms of an online presence. I doubt they will make it past this upcoming holiday season.

~Jedal - The first in a string of local merchants wooed to Phipps Plaza, there is little hope for their survival. They don't carry brands that many care or know about and they are not in the East Village of NYC. Atlantans know what they want and they buy it. Barney's is suffering from the same issue, though it has the corporate dollars to keep the door open and hope for improvement. Jedal, on the other hand, is trying to be the Dresscodes (shuttered Decatur boutique) of shoes and introduce Atlantans to designers they might not otherwise be familiar with. When Phipps discontinues its favorable rent incentives, its likely this store will be unable to stay. Given current market conditions, I'd say this is likely to occur by years end, maybe even early Fall.

~Larisa Glazirani - Located in the lobby level of the Realm Condos in Buckhead, this boutique could not be in a more strange location. Designer Larisa Glazirani must have some deep pocketed investors as there is no way that she is selling enough merchandise to cover the undoubtedly expensive rent, the fashion show she did in May at the InterContinental Hotel, and her professional website. Her "haute couture" may have been lauded by the press and fashionistas alike in the motherland but here in America, and more precisely, in Atlanta, and even more precisely, in Buckhead, her extravagant designs are out of place and not selling as best I can tell. Unless Cruella de Vil is in the market to build a new wardrobe, this boutique will be closed soon.

~London Calling - A novel approach to retailing. See something you like and can't get here in the state, and build a store around it. Hmm... novel in concept, but not in business acumen, seemingly no market research was done. There is a small market for many of the lines carried here. Paul Smith ready-to-wear for men is available in limited quantities but is already sold at DrewLewis not far away and on occasion, at Bill Hallman. The website is a case study in how not to run an online business. The location is a mystery too, La Pietra Cucina and Joli Kobe do OK but retail in Two Peachtree Pointe (The Inveso Building) is laughable. No walk by traffic and even at lunch, office workers who are not their demo.

~Merino- A lot spent on build out but similar problem as Jedal. Unheard of designers in a tough spot. The high price point and poor, corner location (see Y-3) make it highly unlikely this boutique will make it through the renovation and reconfiguration at the Shops Around Lenox.


Properties

The W downtown staved off foreclosure and the St. Regis got new financing. The Renaissance downtown will most likely become a Radisson or a Crowne Plaza. Thankfully nothing more serious to report at this time.

Some information, breaking news and industry scoop is only disseminated via my Twitter and Facebook accounts so "follow" and "like" me so is not to miss a beat!

Know something I missed or think I'm way off? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts.

19 comments:

12-inch Sandwich said...

I want Slacks to do well (I live in Town Brookhaven), but I have to agree with the Slacks opinion.

After a nice writeup in Thrillist this past week, I was hoping they would have opened over the weekend as the story stated. There was activity there all weekend, but not "open for business" activity, I think it was more training than anything else.

After looking at the menu, I think the price points are a little high for that area right now (everything on the menu seems to be ~$9), seeing as there is no foot traffic with nothing else being open in the development. I can't imagine the construction workers who are over there are going to be going by for lunch.

If this place is opening soon, I don't understand why there is no advertisements, banners, signs, etc anywhere. The only indication the place is even about to open is the "Opening in July" signs that are in the windows.

Anonymous said...

FYI you were wrong when it came to Ludacris' restaurant Straits. It is still doing well a year after you originally posted!

Atlantan99 said...

Hello Anon,

As previously noted, certain restaurants were removed from previous lists. In the case of Straits, I feel they are doing ok, and therefore they removed them from the list. I ask you to recall that last year I had a partner on the site an at times, he influenced decisions, for better or for worse. Now operating independently, my former business partner currently lists Straits on their "Death March", so perhaps you speak to him.

Thanks for the comment and for reading.

Anonymous said...

According to Sauced's website,they accept Visa and MC, though their no reservations poilcy is a downer. Still, I hope it can pull through because its a cool spot and a much better alternative to Shaun's, which has become a tired shell of its old self.

Atlantan99 said...

Anon,

You make a very good point on both. Sauced will hopefully pull though, I've just heard some disappointing info from internal sources, as did my reader who submitted them. As for Shaun's, I see it likely that it will close if YEAH! Burger takes off the way he and Erik hope it will.

Thanks for the comment and for reading the blog

Christopher said...

As much as I hate to say it, I have to include Woodfire Grill. They've slowly been going downhill recently, and now they're in the process of transitioning to an all tasting menu format. If I'm going to be brave about trying new things, I want to pick them myself and know what they are before I order.

OryG said...

A friend and I attempted to go to Tuk Tuk but found out it's closed on Mondays. Went to Baroni, liked it but wonder how long it will be open given the $4 upcharge for chicken and $6 for shrimp and they charged for refilling ice tea.

Anonymous said...

Twisted Taco in Buckhead/ Sandy Springs seems to be even slower than Twisted Taco Tucker unless its picked up the last 2 weeks. I was there on a Friday not long ago and thought I could hear crickets.It started off hot then died like the other restaurants in that location before it.

mdillinger said...

Awesome idea for a blog, and quite an entertaining read as well! I followed you on Twitter and liked you on Facebok...looking forward to your news!

mdillinger said...

Awesome idea for a blog my friend, and quite an entertaining read as well. I liked you on Facebook and followed you on Twitter....looking forward to your updates!

Heather said...

The new diner in Decatur is not even open yet, but my bet is that it won't be there long. Ditto with Garlic Thai and Sushi.

Why do they keep opening duplicate restaurants in the area? There are at least 2 breakfast joints in Decatur already, and several sushi and thai places. We could use Indian/Korean/Vietnamese or health food/vegan place downtown instead.

Atlantan99 said...

Hello Heather,

You make a great point. I should have included the Decatur Diner in this edition of the DW. They have been delayed for months and just seem out of place in the area. I especially hate that faux marble exterior. It's cheesy and tacky and I doubt it will last long. Can't speak to Garlic but would not be shocked given its location and lack of marketing.

Thanks for the comment and for reading the blog

Darin said...

I think you're right about the difficult location for retail at the bottom of the Invesco building. I live near here and see very little foot traffic in the area apart from building workers going to lunch at La Pietra and Joli Kobe on the week days.

It's such a shame, too. I was hoping that the presence of SCAD students in the area would inspire some creative retail options. But this area is just too innately dead for walkable retail given that it's flanked by detached-home residential, houses of worship, as well as other office buildings with no ground-level retail space.

Anonymous said...

Slacks - They're still waiting on their liquor license I believe. I met the owners last weekend, and talked to them for a while. They've started training employees while they wait. I think all the Brookhaven/Ashford Park people will support it though on nights and weekends, we've all been waiting for something to open in there soon. Especially now that they've started on some of the anchor stores.

Sauced - They've been accepting credit cards for a while now. I've been there twice in the last 2 months and the place was completely full both times, once during the week and once on a weekend.

57th Fighter - The food there is terrible. Probably the worst bar food in Atlanta. They have so much else going for it, but its not worth it if don't want to eat a single thing on their menu.

ALSO - PLEASE ADD DATES TO EACH BLOG ENTRY - all blogs in the world do this and it makes it hard to tell how up to date your posts are.

Atlantan99 said...

Hello Anon,

Thanks for the comments on the restaurants. I've been working on the blog entry date displaying and hope to have it remedied in the near future.

Thanks!

Ben said...

Is Design Within Reach still open? Never see any customers there.

Anonymous said...

After reading your blog, I recently went to Coposhi and found they had ample parking in the back. There was a sign in front of the store that contained this information as well as what Coposhi offers. They have a very nice boutique and as I understand they have not had their official grand opening yet. As for their twitter and facebook accounts they are currently being developed through local PR firms. They are also becoming involved in the community as well through local non-profit organizations. I think you may want to reevaluate this boutique because I know they are going to be around for a long time. They also had an outstanding selection of clothing. You should read about them in the latest edition of 944 magazine. Do you actually talk to the companies you blog about or do you just make your own assumptions? It would be more effective if you actually talk to the Companies so that you can gain further insight and post accurate information according to your findings. Either way I love your blog site. Keep up the good work.

Atlantan99 said...

Hello Anon,

While I can appreciate your observations, I'm still not convinced they will find success in their current location. Ample parking in the back is one thing, but its not visible to Joe Schmo passerby and for that reason alone could cause would be customers to pass on going. Additionally, the boutique is far enough away from many of the Buckhead hotels to make a walk to it unlikely. With S.O.B. neither open nor near opening, this place won't last.

Bryan 2 Design said...

Design Within Reach is alive and well. With an expanding collection of new products, new service offerings, and a new forward-thinking team at the helm (CEO John Edelman of Edelman Leather), DWR's growth is positioned to be strong. Stop in to see what's new, what's on sale, and learn about Modern Design.