Tuesday, November 29, 2011

'Tis Not the Season for Boardwalk in Sandy Springs

Boardwalk Fresh Burgers & Fries closed their Sandy Springs location over two weeks ago yet no one seemed to realize it--myself included. I had included the Sandy Springs location as well as their newer midtown location on DeathWatch earlier this week, unaware the SS location had already closed. The fact that its closure went unnoticed by virtually anyone is a testament to its popularity, or rather lack thereof.

The funniest (saddest) part of all of this is that not even Boardwalk Burgers & Fries corporate (or at least the person in charge of their social media) knew the location had closed. I say this because on November 14th, an apparent fan of the restaurant asked via the restaurant's official Facebook

"Does anyone know where the Sandy Springs, GA location moved to?"

The response from Boardwalk via Facebook:

"Hey Catherine! Our Sandy Spring store is at: 5975 Roswell Road, Suite A-107 Sandy Springs , GA 30328. We also just opened another location @ 1544 Piedmont Rd, Suite 219 Atlanta , GA 30324. We hope to see you soon!"

The fact that whomever was managing the restaurant's Facebook page that day directed the guest to the closed location, making no mention or acknowledgment of its closure, leads me to believe that they were unaware it was, in fact, closed. Additionally, their website still lists both the Midtown AND Sandy Springs locations.

The first of many planned locations for the Columbia, Maryland based chain, the Sandy Springs store opened in late March of last year. Its location within the redeveloped Hammond Springs Shopping Center provided zero visibility from either Roswell Road or Hammond Drive. With industry veteran Michael Coles (founder of Great American Cookies and former CEO of Caribou Coffee) leading the local franchise group, I would have though a better first location would have been selected.

Investors first announced they had secured the franchise rights to Atlanta in 2008, at that time saying they had rights to open up to 50 Atlanta area locations. The first announced locations were in Sandy Springs and at a new lifestyle center, The Park Druid Hills, off North Druid Hills near I-85. The project seemed to be a more manageable version of Sembler's TOWN Briarcliff, but development of the project has slowed and a completion timetable remains up in the air. Suffice it to say, this Boardwalk location never opened, and likely never will.

Another location was to be within The District at Howell Mill in a former Artuzzi's. This location was scrapped, potentially because of the highly competitive neighborhood of west midtown. FLIP Burger Boutique, YEAH! Burger as well as Bocado are all quite close to the shopping center and the investors wisely opted to look elsewhere.

Ansley Mall, a longtime midtown shopping center, began an extensive renovation earlier this year and signed Boardwalk along with Panera Bread to open at the center. Panera Bread opened rather fast but Boardwalk had only a sign up announcing it was "coming soon" for what seemed like months. The location finally opened in September. While the Ansley Mall location does not face the competition that the would-be westside location would have, it is within a mile or so of local favorite Grindhouse Killer Burgers. With the LA Fitness at Ansley Mall one of the biggest draws to the center, I doubt that many of its patrons turn to fries or burgers as a pre or post workout meal.

Overall, the Ansley Mall location is a far superior location to Sandy Springs, but I remain skeptical that it will last. Given that the restaurant does have awesome fries, but only an average burger, I'd bet Ansley Mall lasts about as long as Sandy Springs, about a year or so.

Years ago Boardwalk had locations at Peachtree Center, Lenox Square and Underground, among others, but all have since closed. These locations, unlike the current eateries, only served fries. Perhaps the chain should go back to this model and focus on it's strength: fries.

What are your thoughts? Do you think the fries are great but the burgers are only OK? Do love every bit of Boardwalk and prefer it to local options such as Grindhouse and Farmburger? Do you, like me, think chains like Boardwalk and Smashburger talking of opening up to 50 locations each in the Atlanta area seem a little optimistic? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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Anonymous said...

I disagree. Ansley location offers good burgers and OK fries. Boardwalk Burger and Five Guy Fries = BEST of both worlds. I hope this location lasts. Nobody can touch Five Guys Fries!

Anonymous said...

The sign on the door at the shuttered Roswell Road location says that they have "moved" to the Ansely Mall location. I laughed out loud when I saw that. How does a restaurant "move" to another location that is already open? Under that theory, I guess all the shut Starbucks in town have "moved" to the Ansley Mall Starbucks?

Anonymous said...

I like the Boardwalk burgers and their fries. What I don't like (and what will be their eventual demise) is how slow it is to order. The pricing is the same (basically) as Five Guys and I find their food to be comparable.

mindspringyahoo said...

Bummer, I really liked this place, but I don't live close enough to get there often.

This location was hidden and very bad though. If they took over the Northlake fuddruckers, I'd be there weekly.