Monday, September 26, 2011

Chipotle Inches Closer to Emory

Dunkin' Donuts and Chipotle Mexican Grill will soon join Yogli Mogli and Falafel King on Oxford Road near Emory Village. Canton, Massachusetts-based Dunkin' Donuts and Denver, Colorado-based Chipotle will share the remaining space from the Emory bookstore. (Twisted Taco was scheduled to open in the space last year but the deal fell though) The old bookstore closed over a year ago, with Barnes & Noble having opening a new college store in a new complex built across the street last summer.

Chipotle, a popular burrito eatery, especially amongst the college and post-college demographic, already has a location in Toco Hills in the outparcel of the Publix-anchored shopping center. Dunkin' Donuts also has a
location nearby, at the corner of of North Druid Hills and LaVista Roads. Both locations do very well, in large part due to the large numbers of student (Emory) customers. The fact that both chains are adding locations so close to the college itself will undoubtedly affect sales at the existing locations.

The Chipotle at Toco Hills opened in 2003 in a space left vacant when Donato's Pizza exited the Atlanta market in late 2002. (At that time, McDonald's owned majority stakes in both Chipotle and Donato's, but it has since spun off both.)

While I was originally informed Chipotle would make use of the vacated Pizza Hut for their upcoming Northlake location, it was demolished a few weeks ago. That being said, the Emory location may open sooner than Northlake, as I doubt they will start from scratch there, and instead make use of the existing building. When open, these two locations will be the 15th and 16th for the chain in the Atlanta market.

Dunkin' Donuts recently said they see Atlanta an "underdeveloped" market, and plan to grow the number of Dunkin's locally over the next few years. With 65 locations currently open in the metro Atlanta market, some observers say that store count could double, but it is dependent on a number of variables, chief among them location availability and the mix of corporate to franchised locations. Oddly enough, the co-branded Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin Robbins in an out-parcel of Midtown Place on Ponce de Leon Avenue recently closed. The location opened with TOGO's in 2001 (owned by Dunkin' Brands until 2007) but was later removed. With Jamestown's Ponce City Market opening in 2013 directly across the street, the closing seems odd but apparently there were a number of users jockeying to replace the business, and an announcement should come soon.

Speaking of mega developments, Cousins' "Emory Point," which is scheduled to open next fall on Clifton Road near Emory and the CDC, would have a made a good home for both Chipotle and Dunkin'. I say that, but the two chains definitely scored big in landing where they did. Personally, I'm a big fan of re-developing existing space over "new builds," but to open ahead of the new project has got to be a plus. I think Emory Point will do very well, but there is no disputing the popularity and perfect location that is Emory Village.

*** 9/26 10:10 AM Dunkin' has pulled out of the deal and I'm told another concept was waiting in the wings and is lease negotiations as we speak. I will have additional details soon.

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