Monday, January 31, 2011

ToNeTo Atlanta Retail + Restaurant + Hotel DeathWatch Q1 2011


With over 50 comments on DeathWatch 4.0 in October, it's clear this portion of the blog is popular! Be it morbid fascination or some other reason, y'all really like this stuff, and the comments show it. As we start 2011, please recall my correct predictions of 2010 : Aquaknox, Pizza Fusion, Urban Flats, Martin + Osa , Rowdy, Merino, Ixtlan Ultra Lounge, EVOS Midtown and Yoreka @ the Prado and L5P, Yoeshi and One Cafe Blanc all came to fruition. In addition, restaurants such as Shaun's , Zaya, Fox & Hounds and LOLA, and retailers such as Calvin Klein and Lexie + Jane have all closed this past year. While I'm 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.

Additionally, this edition brings the return of the "Stillborns". These are concepts that never really did what they said they were gonna do. To all the get rich quick entrepreneurs out there, restaurants are not the way, and especially those that are relatively new and announce ridiculous growth plans. To go from a handful of locations, or even fewer in the case of Mama Fu's, to agreements for many hundred is not only insane its downright sad to think about. Please find DeathWatch 2011 Q1 after the jump.

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57th Fighter Restaurant (Near PDK Airport) - After opening for the third time, the restaurant seems doomed again. 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.

AMUSE! (Midtown) - Located where for a short time Allegro was once located, it's doubtful this restaurant will last much longer. I went once, and that was enough to make up my mind. The food is decent but not great and the location is awful. I'd be amused to see them last til the fall.

Baba Louz (Downtown) This restaurant opened last spring on Broad Street in downtown Atlanta. At that time I was a student at nearby Georgia State and gave it a try. Simply put, its easily one of the worst restaurants on Broad Street. Not a day goes by when I don't see some sad soul peddling coupons and or samples in hopes of luring unsuspecting passerbys in to eat. Michael's Deli, Rosa's Pizza and Rueben's are just a few of the better options if looking for food on Broad. This place may close by the end of this semester, but if not, will not make it through fall.

BLT (W Downtown) Bistro Laurent Tourondel's BLT at the W Downtown is hardly the hit they hoped it would be. After the restaurant opened in 2009, I had dinner there before an event. My $45 Sea Bass was awful, and was matched by the lack of attentiveness of the staff. The fact that the restaurant serves as the hotel kitchen is certainly helping them, as a restaurant alone, it would have surely closed by now. I give them till the end of the year to reconcept.

Cantina Taqueria & Tequila Bar (Buckhead / Terminus) - Similar to the story below, this Here to Serve concept is just taking up space for now. Lola opened as Italian, then became Mediterranean, then closed. Now we have a Mexican concept, the cuisine du jour for restaurateurs to open. I previously suggested Tom Catherall entertain the idea of bringing back his "That's a Burger" concept but I doubt that will happen. While a longterm lease was signed for the space, I'm told (when) Catherall closes Cantina, he won't try another concept but will instead hope to flip the space to someone else.

Coast Seafood & Raw Bar (Buckhead) - Having opened in a seemingly cursed space that was previously Seeger's, Posh and Home, there's not much hope for this concept . As good (or bad) as the food may 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. I think they will do ok during the spring and summer months, bur fear their sales will dip soon after and may sink the concept by fall.

Decatur Diner (Decatur) After finally opening (for a day), the writing is already on the wall. The restaurant's sporadic hours and multiple delays have more than confused and troubled the neighborhood. Their sister diner in Sandy Springs closed after about four months in business and word that ownership is known to not pay vendors or employees, makes me question how they were even able to lease the restaurant in the first place. This restaurant will be closed by summer.

Der Biergarten (Downtown / Luckie Marietta District) - Having now been open a few months, criticisms of this place have not changed. It's a dumb name, crappy location and a niche cuisine. I went to the opening and took a friend of German descent, we both agreed on one thing: once in a while we might want a Bratwurst or Schnitzel or what have you, but there is no way that this will be a viable concept long term. Legacy Property Group will continue to operate this sad eatery as long as they have the willingness or funding to do so.

Dogwood (Midtown) - Located at the cusp of midtown and downtown, it's in a bad location. Too far for most hotel guests from either midtown or downtown hotels to walk, and really only convenient to Emory Hospital Midtown. The fact that it's located in the bottom of a condo building can't help things. I won't be shocked to see them close in the next 90-120 days.

Emerald Coast Coffee & Grille (Buckhead / Terminus) - 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 end.

EVOS ( Sandy Springs / Midtown / Roswell) - So riddle me this, why would a restaurant concept that fared poorly in Atlanta be bought out and see shuttered stores reopened? The original franchisees opened locations at The Prado in Sandy Springs and Viewpoint in Midtown. Another location was announced to be opening in Roswell. Just as DeathWatch Year End 2010 launched, the midtown location closed. Now, with new franchisees in place, there are plans to reopen the shuttered location in midtown and move ahead with the planned location in Roswell. I'm a recent graduate of Georgia State's Cecil B. Day School of Hospitality and I can't comprehend why any restaurateur / entrepreneur would invest in a failed concept with poor locations. It's like investing money in a sunken ship or a wrecked car: it's a lost cause.

Fuze Burger (Midtown) - Fuze Burger opened amidst the burger explosion of 2009 and seems destined to be one of its first casualties. An interesting name, albeit clearly attempting to be associated with that other "F" burger joint. A reader commented on DW Year End 2010 they should have been added to the DeathWatch and thus they were. The Yelp.com reviews have gone from decent to awful of late, and a recent review said the restaurant was out of many of the menu items. (See story on Aquaknox) I predict Fuze will be blown very soon.

Genki (Sandy Springs / 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. Perhaps their soon to open Virginia-Highland location should just not open?

Hashiguchi Jr Sushi (Buckhead / Shops Around Lenox) - A longtime favorite of the Buckhead area, it's sad to think they may close but its a definite possibility at this point. The restaurant's owners also own another restaurant OTP that is not doing well and is sucking the profits from the Buckhead eatery. The redevelopment of Shops Around Lenox is sure to add more activity and traffic to the area, I just hope Hashiguchi is around to see it.

Mellow Mushroom (Downtown at Twelve Centennial Park) Located not far from the original eatery at North Avenue, this location opened with much fanfare but has never been able to capture customers after the white collars leave for the day and go home for dinner. Its location is far from ideal, with parking located on one-way Spring Street and within the TWELVE condos. Panchero's nearby didn't even last a year and Au Bon Pain across the street didn't last much longer.

Pita's Republic (Midtown) Florida-based Pita's Republic entered the Atlanta market with its midtown location. After many delays, the eatery opened in July of last year. A falafel enthusiast, I was eager to try theirs. Boy was I disappointed. They use premade falafel balls and wraps made for burritos rather than, dare I say it, PITAS! The space has been a few things, even a Gyro Wrap (Great Wraps) back in the day, and even they couldn't make it. While plans are on the books for a second location in Sandy Springs, I say, go back to Florida and save some money. For the record, awesome falafels can be had in Buckhead at Al's Cafe Agora, near Emory at Pita Palace and in Sandy Springs at Cafe Posh.

Pizzeria Venti (Buckhead) - Atlanta-based Pizzeria Venti is in a tough spot, in more ways than one. Located on Lenox Road, in Lenox Village Shopping Center, the center and road outside it always cluttered with "Pizza" signs but the place is rarely busy. It's location is far from prime and not convenient or known for that matter by most Buckhead residents. Given the chain is still new, having started in 2003, and only has a handful of locations, they can't be taking lightly the thought of seeing this location close, so perhaps corporate will assist either financially or in a relocation effort.

Rise Sushi (Downtown) - Located within David Marvin's Luckie Marietta District, the restaurant has been on life support for over a year. I doubt they will be open the next time the Falcons play at the dome.

Saskatoon (Buckhead) - After finally opening in the swiftly shuttered Harry Bissett's Buckhead, the restaurant has never seemed 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 with such a niche approach with elk, bison and ostrich offerings. The restaurant is currently operating with sporadic hours, some days open, other days closed. Having said from day one that this place was doomed, I've recently been told that there is interest in the space from other restaurants, and its days as Saskatoon are surely numbered. I'd say they will be closed by the end of February, if not sooner.

Slack's Hoagie Shack, dba Slack's Restaurant and Bar (Brookhaven / TOWN Brookhaven) - 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. With Costco open but not doing the expected business, don't be shocked to see this restaurant close before other tenants like LA Fitness and CinéBistro even open.

STEEL (Midtown / Plaza Midtown) Dallas-based STEEL has somehow stuck around for a number of years at the corner of West Peachtree and Peachtree Place. A number of boutique, bank, apparel and restaurant closures at Plaza Midtown have finally taken their toll on STEEL. With decreased hours and talk they are in trouble financially, I'd expect them to close in the next 60-90 days.

The Real Chow Baby (Ponce de Leon location) Need I repeat myself? The food is good, the location awful.

{three} sheets (Sandy Springs) - Located at City Walk this restaurant was opened by the children of RCG's (Restaurants Consulting Group) owner Tony Akly and it's my impression they have a long lease. That said, it's unlikely they will close until someone comes in to buy them out. The restaurant is busy but only for monthly special events such as the grilled cheese dinner and flavor tripping parties. It's hard to imagine the restaurant making sufficient profit if they are only busy a couple days each month.

Truva (Downtown) - 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.

Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft (South Buckhead) - After opening November of 2009 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 that they have lost their magic touch. 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 it's just not as good as the Niyomkuls' other concepts. I give them till early summer at best.

Twisted Taco (Tucker and Buckhead ) - Two of a number of recent franchised locations to open, neither one has met the expectations of many area patrons and they are not in prime locations. 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. In Buckhead, the location on Wieuca off Roswell is just bad and the place is rarely busy as a result. I doubt either location will make it much longer.

Urban PL8 (West Midtown) - 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 (Lenox Square) - 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. Given recent chatter about the space and their abysmal sales figures, I'd expect for them to close within 60 days unless Simon is that desperate for them to stay.

YEAH! Burger (West Midtown & VaHi) - So here's the thing, YEAH! Burger is not all that, it just is. No wow factor, no great value, no nothing. The design is fabulous, done at both locations by local firm Seiber Design, but really, if I wanna get ripped off on a burger I can just go to FLIP. I really don't understand the thought process on the part of Chef Shaun Doty and partner Erik Maier. Without even having their first location (West Midtown) up and running, they signed a lease on a second location (Virginia Highlands). Barry Mills of FLIP and Alex Brounstein of Grindhouse both waited to measure the success of their first locations before expanding, and as a result of doing what I consider their due diligence, I feel both are far better positioned for the future. (I will say, I was not, nor am I now a fan of FLIP, but they seem to do what they do well.)

YEAH! Burger was a hot topic for many on last year's final DeathWatch edition and many had their own opinions to share on its viability or value. Personally, I'm no more a fan of it now than I was then. I still think it's a nice idea and a fun space but the taste and value remain absent from the equation for me. I think they may stick around for a year or two, but they could close sooner. George's nearby and Farmburger in Decatur are far better burger options for the neighborhood.


Retail

Bloomingdale's (Dunwoody / Perimeter Mall) - A far cry from the offerings of New York or even Lenox, this store's service is trumped by Chick-Fil-A on a daily basis. Bloomingdale's Perimeter has yet to meet expectations and seems to shrink its saleable floor space every visit I make. I won't go into all the miserable 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. Some industry contacts have said this Bloomindale's is tied for worst performing store in the chain. (I wonder which store they're tied with?) If Federated wants to improve their bottom line, they will close this store soon.

Barney's New York CoOp (Buckhead - Phipps Plaza) - 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 for $825 million in 2007. Once rumored to be on the map for a Barney's New York flagship, Atlantans have proven they won't support such high end and cutting edge designers by the lack sales for even the CoOp. Recent chatter indicates this store may last through the first quarter but most likely won't make it through the second half of the year.

Coposhi (Buckhead) - If I get one more email from the guy that owns this place, I may just go in and verbally tell him to take me off his list. I included this new Buckhead boutique in the DeathWatch last year and since then, he has added me to his stores "VIP" email list. I guess I was unclear. I don't like your clothes, I think you have an awful location, a goofy name and will be closed soon. Oh yeah, please remove me from your mailing list, as I am not interested.

Jedal (Buckhead - Phipps Plaza) - 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, it's likely this store will be unable to stay. Just as we recently saw Merino at Shops Around Lenox close, Jedal is surely to follow soon.

Larisa Glazirani (Buckhead / Realm) - 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 (Midtown) - A novel approach to retailing. See something you like and can't get here in the states, 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.

LoveSac (Buckhead / Lenox Square) This retailer of "sactionals" and other strange furniture opened at Lenox Square in the Fall of 2009 and has amazingly stayed at the mall this long. I rarely see many people in the store other than the two employees (who constantly change) It's only a matter of time for Simon to get someone to take the space as I believe they signed a short-term agreement. The space is small, so perhaps Simon simply can't find anyone to take it.

Pure Denim (Buckhead / Lenox Square) After opening during the 2008 holiday season, I assumed this was to a be a "temporary" store. Sadly, I was wrong and this gaudy, out of place, overpriced store has remained open. With Simon now getting serious about the Luxury Wing (Salvatore Ferragamo expansion and the additions of Prada and Ermenegildo Zegna), I'd expect for this store to be gone by April.

The Blue Corset Co. (Buckhead / Lenox Square) Similar story to Pure Denim. The store was lured to Lenox and given a short term lease to be a "placeholder" for something better. With talk that Tom Ford and Marc Jacobs are both looking at space in Atlanta, perhaps their time as placeholder is over. I see them closed in under 30 days.

Valentino (Buckhead / Phipps Plaza) It's sad to say, but this is just not a store Atlantan's can support. With couture designs and a select clientele, I'd be surprised if this store has made plan a single month since opening. Given the mess that is the Streets of Buckhead, and that the fact that Bottega Veneta has already defected, I don't have much hope for them to be in business much longer.

Versace (Buckhead / Phipps Plaza) Once a favorite in Atlanta and elsewhere, the store's glitzy makeover last year could not save this store. Its sales are down and it's lost its luster and relevance to Atlanta shoppers. I doubt they will be around much longer.

Vetted (Buckhead) - I don't know what to say. I never quite understood the idea behind re-opening the boutique after Lexie + Jane's failure. It's a bad location for a boutique and its nearly nonexistent parking is a major problem that has yet to be remedied.

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Stillborn?
The return of "Stillborns," There are concepts that are announced and never come to fruition.(That is all: nothing more, nothing less, no disrespect intended by the name.)

Eateries

3 Chefs Downtown (Midtown) I called the number listed on the website to inquire about an opening, was told I had the wrong number though the phone answers "Executive Chef Joel" the listed Chef on the restaurant's website. I'm told that there are multiple other interested parties in the space so I guess we'll see something soon.

Fritti (Buckhead) At one point said to be opening by this fall at 102 West Paces Ferry, no work has been done on the project and the closures of owner Riccardo Ullio's midtown concepts would seem to serve as the writing on the wall. Though nothing has been said officially, I think this restaurant will never come to fruition.

FROOTS (Various locations) - A Florida-based franchisor of Jamba Juice-like restaurants, the chain had locations in Alpharetta, Kennesaw, Sandy Springs and Roswell but the only one still open is in Roswell. In 2007, the chain had aspirations for 80 locations in Atlanta, and 1,000 overall in the following 10 years: hardly likely now. I spoke to a company executive at NACS (National Association of Convenience Stores) in Atlanta last fall, and he said the chain still hopes to grow in Atlanta, although it will do so though smaller units such as within convenience stores.

La Fruttela (Inman Park) Late last year, it was announced that this European Yogurt shop would be opening in the Highland Walk residences on N. Highland Avenue. Today, there is little to see other than a "coming soon" sign outside. Given the recent closure of the short lived Sno*Flake nearby, I say these guys wised up and simply won't open.

Pollo Tropical (North Buckhead ++) I wrote a post last year about the impending return to Atlanta and to Buckhead in particular and it it I advised against opening. From what I've heard, Pollo Tropical may have taken that advice, as the restaurant is no longer a sure thing. I hope they don't end up opening as they will surely go from open to closed in record time.

Smashburger (Various locations) - Denver-based Smashburger announced plans last year to open 3 locations in Atlanta by the end of 2010. Zero opened. In addition to that, the chain was said to have set its sights on opening as many as 30 units in the metro area within 3 to five years, likely now not to happen. Will any open?

The Pig Sty (Downtown) With a "coming soon" sign that predates the damage done and now restored at the Westin Hotel, it sits across from on Peachtree, it's doubtful this 'lil piggy will ever see the light of day. A few months ago a water pipe burst within the building causing extensive damage to the interior, so now even more capital would have to be sunk into the site, something I doubt anyone will be eager to do.


Retail

Pampolina Kids (Buckhead / Phipps Plaza) - Last October, local firm KCPR sent out a press release announcing the upcoming opening of this European kidswear retailer. Months later, signage is down, and I'm told they will not be opening and the space will instead be part of the upcoming Arhaus Furniture.

Von Maur (Alpharetta / North Point Mall) This past November, Davenport Iowa-based Von Maur stated its plans to enter the Atlanta market with a location in Alpharetta. The store would be the chain's southeast flagship and would occupy the former Lord & Taylor / Belk space at North Point Mall. Apparently the chain sees Atlanta as a market that could support up to three locations. The chain is privately held and is said to be at the same level as Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom. With the North Point Mall website devoid of even so much as a mention of the store, and the wing in which it would be located desolate at this point, I'm starting to wonder if they second guessed themselves. The fact that they are family owned, similar to Belk, and are similar in price to Lord & Taylor, both of which failed in the SAME space, perhaps , not opening would be a wise decision.


Properties

Mandarin Oriental (Midtown) Rumored, then finalized, then canceled, then resuscitated, I think we can just call this stillborn. Tivoli Properties is now comprised of Aqua and DUO after losing its Mezzo project in south Buckhead to foreclosure. Atlanta is oversupplied in terms of luxury hotels and as much as I'd love to say my city has a Mandarin, it just wouldn't work.

All of the Above -

Atlantic Station - Home to a variety of cheesy retailers and crappy restaurants, Atlantic Station has about as much going for it as Northlake Mall... well maybe a bit more. Atlantic Station does have a number of national retailers still open but that's about it. Bonehead's changed names to Fishook Grille, and P.J.'s Coffee changed multiple times, most recently to Cafe Nineteen, as well. The center now offers both a Which Wich AND Subway, a Kilwin's AND Cold Stone Creamery and of course the ubiquitous Gap, American Eagle and Express. I will admit, the H&M does do well (though according to an H&M contact still not the numbers they were hoping for / had planned) Additionally, the theater is a HUGE draw for the entire development but that ain't enough to save it. Maybe its just me, but I could do without the LA Fitness right there: kudos on the diet plan but I'd rather not watch you and your PT work off those love handles.

Restaurants like Dolce and Geisha House have not paid rent in who knows how long, and the Dillard's has the highest shoplifting rate in the chain. The bottom line is this: Atlantic Station is "Overground," the new Underground and destined for the same fate.

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

50 comments:

Jenna said...

Great list, Eli! I can tell you that you definitely do your HW before making these predictions and assessments. As I was reading down, I was wondering if you'd put The Wafflery on there and sure enough, you got it! I will be very interested to see what happens with these places...

Atlantan99 said...

Hey Jenna,

Thanks for the feedback. Yes, takes plenty of time and research to put this together. I would loved to have it monthly, as it appears to be the one portion of the site everyone has something to say about, I simply don't have the time!

It's shocking that the Wafflery is still open now. Perhaps once the XXI gets close to opening, there will some changes in food court for the better. Here's to hoping for a Così somewhere in Atlanta soon.

Lots more (good) news in store this week and of course BirthWatch end of February.

Anonymous said...

Do you find it at all irresponsible to be posting about restaurants ( someone's lively hood) not making it when you haven't even eaten there. You base so many of these posts on location alone. Sure location is a factor in the success of any business, but a restaurant should at least warrent a trip inside to see what they offer before condiming them to your list. It may be some thing "you don't take lighty" but by adding a place to this list having never visited, I think is just wrong. They say any press is good press, but I think this list isn't what they had I'm mind when they coined the expression.

Atlantan99 said...

Hey Anon,

I agree with what you're saying. I will say, having now gone back down the list and looked at each listing, I've personally dined / shopped / stayed or in some way been to the majority of the locales listed. Are referring to a certain location or concept?

Anonymous said...

There are many that you only list that the only reason its added is the location. I'm not saying your a fopd critic or anything, but if the food warrents it, the location can be horrible and people will go. I think the section could benefit from that commentary. "the location sux, however the food and atmosphere, is .... " that way, your readers have something more to go on than just, the location is no good = fail. I'm not saying you owe the rest. owners anything, but this way at least their food can have an opportunity to be spoken for and not condemed based on a bad real estate agent.....

Atlantan99 said...

Hey Anon,

Sadly I have to disagree with you on this one. You "...if the food warrents it, the location can be horrible and people will go." This is simply not the case, one restaurant that comes to mind is Taurus. A restaurant I really liked and that had great food but was in an awful, second story location. While I'm not an agent and have never been an agent, anyone knows the 3 things you need to know to be successful in real estate. Location. Location. Location.

Food can be food, service can be better than average, but if you have minimal parking or its hard to access or difficult to find etc. you put yourself at a disadvantage in this city where most everyone drives to and fro rather than the taking the train like in cities such as New York.

Anonymous said...

Right, but what I'm saying is, in your example, if I had read" Taurus is a great spot with awesome food, however based on the location, I don't think it will make it. " That's atleast an informed account by you. I can take that and process it. I may want to go try it before it goes under. And I'm not saying you have to like the food, (tuk tuk) just that you tried it before you make an assesment. These are pretty serious "predictions "that may effect peoples decisions (they are on deathwatch, I won't eat there cause the food must suck) which may contribute to your predictions coming true. Again, that is obviously blown way up, but you get my point. I'd just like to know you did more research than driving by a spot and googling what was there before it that didn't make it. That's all. I read your blog daily and usually like it, I just think this section should be taken more serious.

Atlantan99 said...

Agreed.

I'd ask again if there was a particular mention you felt was off or that it seemed all I did was google something. I mean there could be plenty more on here some might say. These are IMHO locales I see in trouble for various reasons, in some, the location is the significant problem, in others it merely contributes to the bigger issues (i.e. rude staff, crappy food, high price / low quality etc)

I have lived in Atlanta, in the same neighborhood my entire life and through the years have witnesses both successes and failures. I see what works and what doesn't and why.

This list takes weeks to put together and plenty of research both online and on the streets is done to make the mentions as honest and on par as possible.

Atlantan99 said...

Anon,

I do appreciate the feedback and also thank you for being such an involved and loyal reader of my blog.

Thank you!

Anonymous said...

If we compare your list to places that have had a Scoutmob in the last year, you'll see so many similarities. Honestly, outside of like Murphy's, I take Scoutmob to mean that that particular establishment will be closed within 6 months/1 year

Anonymous said...

You obviously haven't visited Yeah Burger in a while. They cut their prices. Now your prediction is absurd. Two years??? Why not ten years.

Why can't you just admit it's a decent concept and appeals to the lunch crowd and families? Is it amazing? No. Are lines out the door? Yes.

Natalie said...

I think you may be right about Amuse, but I hope they can make it work. I really like the space and the bar decor is fun. In addition to a nice atmosphere, I do think the food is worthwhile. Brunch is always a solid choice and the $9 bottomless mimosas doesn't hurt.

Anonymous said...

I love Hashiguchi Jr I hope they make it. I was in there a few weeks ago and they had signs up everywhere saying had not renewed their liquor license. I could see that as a red flag.

I like Steel but I think their prices are too high. My friend lives in Plaza and instead of ordering from the place downstairs, Steel, I walked to RA to get my sushi fix.

Darin said...

It's so sad, but I know that you're right about Der Biergarten. I may be in a minority, but I absolutely love German food and for years I hoped we'd get a German restaurant in Atlanta. We finally get one, and it's in an awkward location and overpriced. And this is really not a good economy for overpriced and awkwardly-located restaurants.

The food is genuinely good, though (as is the German beer list), so if you're like me and enjoy this style I recommend making a trip before it inevitably closes this year.

Anonymous said...

While I agree that the street food concept and high prices don't really jive, it seems that Tuk Tuk's biggest sin is taking up the real estate of your beloved Taurus.

As is the case with other businesses, you've copied-and-pasted your deathwatch notice on Tuk Tuk from April 2010 in each consecutive deathwatch and yet the restaurant remains open.

Is it not possible that some of these businesses have turned around since April 2010? I believe updated deathwatches would paint a more accurate picture of the respective business's current likelihood of success or failure rather than an anecdote about a friend's visit in November 2009.

Could your deathwatch not become a self-fulfilling prophecy when readers of the blog decide not to make up their own opinions?

Atlantan99 said...

Hey Anon,

Not at all. As much as I enjoyed Taurus, the space was the their biggest issue. It was beautiful, modern and open but the location killed it.

As far as Tuk Tuk goes, there are more issues at play. The location remains an issue but now we also have high price and a strangely redesigned dining room to look at.

The submission has not changed since April because the restaurant has not changed since April. Simple as that. I still feel the same and I still doubt they will be around much longer.

Anonymous said...

Taurus' design concept was awful and their menu was minimal and never was adapted, that’s why it failed. The center island was a horrible rendition of what appeared to be a boat’s sail and had luminescent strobe lights that changed colors or pulsed to add “ambiance”. Tuk Tuk Thai Food LOFT does exactly what they build themselves as: A loft setting to get street food. If anything the open but well designed area adds more to the feel of a street style setting. While cost is high, it is expected. You are getting large portions of personalized Thai food off of a large menu. This is not to be confused with a Tin Drum setting. If anything this expectation from guests of a cheap “in and out” eatery is probably their biggest downfall. One last minor detail, Tuk Tuk is owned and operated by Deedee Niyomkul their talented daughter, not Charlie or Nan. But hey, haters are gonna hate.

Anonymous said...

Looks like your first correct prediction for 2011 is Saskatoon. I went on a walk by the place a couple of days ago around dinner time, and it was dead (no lights, people, etc).

Anonymous said...

Charlie and Deedee are great people. while some of tuk tuk's food is good (and i actually like the design of the place), i stopped going because the prices were high and i wasn't always full after spending a fair amount of money. the location doesn't bother me at all.

Anonymous said...

Sorry Atlantan99 you're all wet. Just cause you say it don't make it so. Many of these places are douing better than your've stated. More chance of your blog running out of steam then some of the places on your list. I know you think you're clever but it's just mean spirited. These places probably put their hearts and hard earned money into their businesses and you sit around predicting their demise. You should be ashamed of yourself but I would guess you're not.

Anonymous said...

Honestly I think the only way to change the dynamic is to make it less attractive to a certain element which brings the place down. That is the OTP suburban teens and ITP south teens. Simply changing the lineup of stores would go a long way. Price it slightly higher then the stores there now. Also more security and or police and more residential elements would help it. Atlantic Station is still a great place to go to at certain times. The challenge is to grasp the things that make the good times to go good and expand it through out.

Anonymous said...

White House Black Market has closed at Atlantic Station... for a large corporate company like that (I think they are owned by the JCrew company) things must be bad.

Rumors are that Lego Land wants to come to Atlantic Station (WHY?!?!?!) but they want to be seen from the interstate. FoxSports has already had issues as a whole. It wouldn't surprise me if Lego Land actually happened and took over Fox Sports.

I thought I recall reading somewhere about IMAX at Regal Cinemas at Atlantic Station, maybe they take over the Dolce or Fox Sports spots?

Also Amuse is for sale on Shumacher... which is the pre-deathwatch spot.

randy732 said...

I told myself I wasn't going to comment on this article, so I will just comment on Atlantic Station. They already converted one or two of the theaters at Regal to the IMAX. And I would love to see more family-friendly places take place of high price, low quality bars that tend to attract the wrong crowd for a high-traffic lifestyle center that they aim to be. As much as I love the trendy and modern clothing/furniture stores, I don't see them staying at Atlantic Station for the long run in this economy. West Elm could easily move to Howell Mill, H&M move to Lenox in the Crate&barrel space, etc. But I do hope for the best for Atlantic Station, I think it was a win-lose contest when they were considering building the aquarium adjacent to it. But now that it's under new management, who knows?! I wouldn't mind seeing a chickfil-a in one of the office buildings :)

thejohnp said...

So this was kind of brought in another comment, but do you think the glut of 1/2 off deals (Scoutmob, Groupon, etc) is a sign of eventual doom for a restaurant? I know I've been burned on a couple of the group discounts in the past and that's why I prefer Scoutmob to the others since it doesn't require me to pay up front. But overall what are your thoughts on the program as a whole? Does it help or hurt business? I'd like to see a post on just that if you were able.

And my 2 cents, it can't all be simply location, look at Antico. They had to make room in the kitchen for people to sit because the food was so good. Granted, they may be an exception to the rule, but if you make an exceptional product and there is word of mouth behind it, it does seem you can make a go of it. But rare those cases may be.

Image Results said...

Love your reviews! My husband and I get stuck in a rut of eating at the same places due to bad experiences in the past. Now, we can use your great reviews and venture out again. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

What about Perla Taqueria

Anonymous said...

And this is what I was talking about on Sunday night, you post this information, and readers like Image Results are using this as a review and deciding which places to eat at. I realize that you are interested in commercial real estate and the whole process around it and, in fact, that you are not a restaurant critic. But as you have a popular outlet for your oppinion, which obviously people listen to, I just think it would be better if you atleast tried a restaurant and included some blurb about the actual restaurant before adding them to your Death Watch.

Lee at rootsinalpharetta.com said...

Good to see you venturing OTP into my neck of the woods. I've thought about making such a list out my way, but I didn't want to invite karma to visit me. I'll leave the deathwatch lists to the professionals!

I agree with your take on Von Maur. Belk dropped a bunch of money building out on this end of North Point Mall. They didn't last long. In the meantime, mall management has turned this end into the children's area, with soft play areas and choo choo trains. Not exactly the portion of the mall for a high-end retailer.

Years ago there was talk of building a high-end mall (a la Phipps Plaza) at McFarland (exit 12) and GA-400. This would be a great fit for Von Maur... if they ever build it.

Anonymous said...

Your "Death Watch" really ruins this blog. It's overly negative and full of rumors and your BS opinions. Valentino and Versace and Barney's closing at Phipps? You really think Simon is going to let that happen? And if things were so shi**y why would Bottega Venetta bother opening at Phipps this summer?

Yeah! Burger isn't going anywhere. Both locations are always crowded and the have an awesome turkey burger.

And Der Biergarten... OK even Charlotte, North Carolina has a German restaurant and it does well. How can Atlanta NOT have one? What is the difference between a German restaurant and a Japanese, Thai, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, etc. restaurant? Are they all "gimmicky" because they focus on one ethnic cuisine? What is wrong with the location? Why are people in Atlanta so damn weird?

Atlantan99 said...

@thejohnp,

With regards to Scoutmob, I think it serves a purpose but I do worry about those people that simply go to the restaurant for the deal each day and never really go back once they get their discount. Its a nice rush of traffic for the business in question but I think the jury is still out on whether it will have a longterm positive impact for the businesses.

Cliff Bostock did an interesting piece on Scoutmob for Creative Loafing... http://clatl.com/omnivore/archives/2010/12/29/scoutmob-does-it-work-for-restaurants . The post got some great feedback you may find of interest.

As for Antico, I agree, some how, some way he has made that a must do kinda place. People are ready and willing to go to the Home Park neighborhood in which the restaurant is located even with the crime that goes on. He does a great job and people see that. The fact that he has pseudo security / parking assistance can't hurt.

Atlantan99 said...

@Lee at rootsinalpharetta.com,

Yes, I try and cover the "metro Atlanta" area and Alpharetta is included in this.

As far as Van Maur goes, it would be nice if they opened as North Point Mall has had its fair share of setbacks I just question its viability. There was talk of Adrenalina opening in the same wing and that never materialized. ( http://www.tonetoatl.com/2009/05/adrenalina-runs-out-of-energy-at-north_3097.html )

Other than American Girl and H&M, the mall is kinda behind the times and could a boost of some kind. I realize they have empty space but hopefully GGP doesn't try and fill that with a Costco ala Cumberland Mall.

I think the project you are referencing on McFarland was "Prospect Park." At one point I heard smaller Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale's, Tiffany & Co. and others had "interest" but nothing of late. Whole Foods and AMC Theaters were both confirmed so I'm told but I think its stalled. Unlike Ben Carter at SOB, its not in the heart of Buckhead and developer Stan Thomas has been apparently unable to secure new funds or find someone to take it over. I followed it for a while, would be interested if there were any updates...

Jonathan said...

Hi Eli,

In addition to Prospect Park (which is completely dead at this point), the Taubman Company (developers of Mall at Millenia in Orlando and International Plaza in Tampa) had plans for a regional mall on Exit 12 - McFarland Parkway.

The permits had been issued and the county and given the green light on the development. However, it is dead at this point.

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon
My "DeathWatch" portion has proven to be one of the most successful portions of this site. It's done quarterly (some have suggested it be done monthly) I understand what you are saying about it being overly negative but that is not my intention. The purpose is to point out where I see issues in hopes that they will be corrected. I don't want anyone to lose their life savings opening and then closing a business. With any luck, some read my posts and are therefore better informed about where / when to open and may think see their would be space in a different light once reading this. In the end I want people to succeed. While Valentino and Versace were new additions to the DW and may somehow hang on though they are not (and have not) made plan. Barney's I can all but guarantee you will be gone by the end of the year but probably sooner. Bottega will do well in this market, its far more popular amongst a wider range than Versace or Valentino are now.

As for YEAH! Burger, It's not that I just hate on them for the sake of hating on them. I think its overpriced and underwhelming for what you get. The space is not, the food is just average. I'm not gluten intolerant so I'm not stuck going there and have found other burgers such as Farm Burger to be far superior in among other things, taste.

Der Biergarten... "OK even Charlotte, North Carolina has a German restaurant and it does well." Your point being what exactly? Charlotte is not Atlanta. While there have been comparisons made between Lenox and SouthPark, they are very different. Might I remind you that Dean & Deluca looked at opening in Buckhead and bailed and instead opened in Charlotte. The difference between a German restaurant and like any of the others you mentioned is simple, far fewer people like / seek out German cuisine. It has a small niche and that is what will lead to its demise. There are not enough consumers that like it and would be willing to go to LMD to eat there. Der Biergarten is gimmicky and was put together in record time, and it shows. LMD is not a destination and no one, and I mean NO ONE goes there that is not already downtown for the Aquarium, a game or a function at the GWCC. You may get a GSU student or two every now and then but its not within a comfortable walking distance for the majority of students living on campus or with a free lunch break.

Atlantan99 said...

@Jonathan,

Thanks for the clarification. I kinda recall there being multiple projects. I guess the only one that came to fruition is the Avenue South Forsyth?

I've been to Tampa International and Mall at Millenia, sure would be nice to have a mall / lifestyle center of their caliber in the metro area. Hope something good happens up there...

Jonathan said...

Yup, Avenue Forsyth stole the AMC away from Prospect. The Whole Foods superstore has remained the older Harry's in Roswell even though they completed a foundation at Prospect that is still just a foundation.

Avenue Forsyth opened with a Circuit City which of course promptly closed. They have struggled to fill up their vacancies although the center is popular with Exit 12 and north residents.

thejohnp said...

Just so you know, I got a postcard in the mail today letting me know Restoration Hardware closed in Lenox. No surprise considering how tucked away it was in that mall. Good luck to Simon for trying to fill that space again.

Lee at rootsinalpharetta.com said...

I was not talking about Prospect Park. That was the mixed-use project at Old Milton, aka the Alpharetta mud pit. The proposed mall at McFarland was to be built by Taubman, to rival Phipps Plaza. I have not heard anything on this in a few years.

Atlantan99 said...

@thejohnp,

Yes, the Restoration Hardware closed at Lenox and their current only location in Dunwoody. Please see the following for additional details on both what's taking its place and what their plans are.

http://www.tonetoatl.com/2010/11/home-titans-crate-barrel-and.html

Thanks for reading!

Atlantan99 said...

@Lee

You are right! I got confused with all those proposed malls / lifestyle centers. Heard anything bout Prospect Park lately or is it dead?

Thanks for the comments and reading the blog!

Tres said...

I actually have a good idea in case the Bloomingdale's closes at Perimeter: I think Belk could move it's flagship there from Phipps. When you really think of it, Belk's store at Phipps is flagship only in the brands that particular store offers, but not so much in selection. Granted that it is their largest and best store in Atlanta, it isn't really full-line, as it lacks a Home section and even the Men's Department doesn't have Big and Tall, which seemingly every other Belk has. The Bloomingdale's at Perimeter has much more square footage (234,000) than Belk's store at Phipps (170,000). A move to Perimeter would allow Belk to have a location as nice and well-stocked as their main Flagship at SouthPark in Charlotte.

So, now, you're probably thinking what's going to happen to Belk at Phipps? Well, this would be an EXCELLENT spot for Von Maur to come in. I think VM would be a better fit at Phipps than Belk, even though that store does a good bit of business. VM would bring Phipps' anchors back to it's upscale roots.

Anonymous said...

Do you ever say anything nice about a restaurant? are you just looking for businesses to fail? why dont you try & be a small business owner in this economy see if you can do any better!!!

Atlantan99 said...

@Tres,

Great idea! I think that might actually work. Doubt it will happen, but very interesting possibility. Do you work in retail?

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon,

Yes, many occasions I will say great things about restaurants. Of late Farmburger, Grindhouse, Al's Cafe Agora and Varasano's come to mind as locally owned and operated small businesses I'm a fan of and have made readers aware. I don't get a kick out out of putting people on the DeathWatch and a aware how tough it is out there. I point out instances I see as foolish or ill-advised.

Anonymous said...

I drove by Saskatoon the last two nights and I can also say all of the lights were off and no one was home.

I think this one is gone for sure.

Tres said...

No, actually, I don't work in Retail. I guess I call things as I see them.

What I have noticed, though is that the Belk at Phipps seems to be doing better than people thought it would. They have good collection of upscale brands like Lacoste, Tommy Bahama, and 7 For All Mankind to keep the Phipps clientele happy, so they're doing something right. TBH, I've never noticed much of a difference in that particular Belk from when it was a Parisian.

In all honestly, I'm hoping that the Perimeter Bloomingdale's can get it's act together and not eventually close.

Perimeter's already got Dillard's and Macy's to take care of the clientele that a Belk would serve, so to bring one there would be kind of redundant. I just suggested it so as to find a use for the empty space.

On the other hand, while Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom are both upscale stores, I feel that they serve two different purposes. Bloomingdale's tends to cater to a younger, more urban and fashion forward clientele. It's what it's famous for. Nordstrom's offerings are a little more traditional and conservative. They tend to mostly have things that appeal more to people in their late 30's/early 40's and up, with a very small selection for younger-looking styles (in the men's dept. at least). I personally only really shop for shoes at Nordstrom and then buy clothes around the corner at Bloomingdale's.

It's for these reasons that I think it would be a huge loss if Bloomingdale's at Perimeter closes. They just need to step up their game and give people a reason to go there.

Tres said...

No, actually, I don't work in Retail. I guess I call things as I see them.

What I have noticed, though is that the Belk at Phipps seems to be doing better than people thought it would. They have good collection of upscale brands like Lacoste, Tommy Bahama, and 7 For All Mankind to keep the Phipps clientele happy, so they're doing something right. TBH, I've never noticed much of a difference in that particular Belk from when it was a Parisian.

In all honestly, I'm hoping that the Perimeter Bloomingdale's can get it's act together and not eventually close.

Perimeter's already got Dillard's and Macy's to take care of the clientele that a Belk would serve, so to bring one there would be kind of redundant. I just suggested it so as to find a use for the empty space.

On the other hand, while Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom are both upscale stores, I feel that they serve two different purposes. Bloomingdale's tends to cater to a younger, more urban and fashion forward clientele. It's what it's famous for. Nordstrom's offerings are a little more traditional and conservative. They tend to mostly have things that appeal more to people in their late 30's/early 40's and up, with a very small selection for younger-looking styles (in the men's dept. at least). I personally only really shop for shoes at Nordstrom and then buy clothes around the corner at Bloomingdale's.

It's for these reasons that I think it would be a huge loss if Bloomingdale's at Perimeter closes. They just need to step up their game and give people a reason to go there.

Anonymous said...

1.Borders has been on the brink of bankruptcy for well over a year. We began pro actively marketing that space about a year ago - and I am pleased to say that we have been successful in landing a highly sought after replacement tenant. We have signed a lease with Aveda Institute for the Borders space. They will be opening mid to late summer. This is a real coupe for Brookwood Place and Aveda will be an amazing addition to our impressive line-up of tenants.
2. Taurus closed their doors in early 2009 (as did many restaurants all over the country) due to the impact of the recession. We successfully replaced them with Tuk Tuk, a new concept founded by one of Atlanta's premier restaurant operators. Further, Tuk Tuk was named one of Atlanta's Top New Restaurants in 2010. They are very successful in this location and an ideal replacement for Taurus. We feel privileged to have found such a great replacement for Taurus in such a short amount of time.
3. Wolfgang Puck has closed nearly all of their cafe locations (outside of airports) across the country. Their closure at Brookwood was not an isolated instance. Within 6 months, we were able to replace them with yet another strong restaurant, Baroni, a sister concept to the hugely successful Baroanda.
4. As you know Swoozies filed bankruptcy in 2009. They closed all of their locations across the country. Brookwood Place has been on their list of Top 10 stores to re-open at the direction of their new equity partner, Gart Companies, out of Denver, CO.. We are in negotiations now with them now.
Brookwood Place remains a very strong and viable retail location. Selig Enterprises, as a long term holder of real estate, remains committed to maintaining the highest standards in the leasing and management of its properties.

Anonymous said...

Sadly it appears that Pho #1 on Buford Hwy has closed.

Anonymous said...

Abrigo in midtown appears to be closed. A friend went by there a few times around dinner in the last few weeks and it was closed. A bad review from CL probably didn't help either.

Anonymous said...

Urban Pl8 seems to have found its niche catering to the paleo/CrossFit crowd. They boom at brunch and seem to do well at dinner, too.