Friday, December 16, 2011

Corner Bakery Cafe to Rise in Peachtree Corners


Dallas, Texas-based Corner Bakery Cafe will soon open their fourth Atlanta area location, and their first under the ownership of Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group. The 120+ unit Corner Bakery and the 22+ unit Il Fornaio concepts were purchased from Il Fornaio ( America) Corporation in June.  Roark has a variety of investments, in several categories, but recently has been steadily growing its restaurant portfolio.  It's restaurant holdings now include Moe's Southwest Grill, Auntie Anne's, McAlister's Deli, Arby's, Cinnabon, Carvel, Wingstop and Schlotzsky's Deli.

The first Corner Cafe was opened in 1991 in Chicago by then owner Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises.  The Corner Bakery, along with fellow LEYE concept, Maggiano's Little Italy, were both sold to Dallas-based Brinker International, and later to Il Fornaio in 2005.  Maggiano's often featured Corner Bakery Cafes within the lobby of their restaurants, such as in the Maggiano's on Peachtree Road in Buckhead.

Currently, Corner Bakery has locations within the aforementioned Maggiano's on Peachtree, on the second level of Lenox Square (almost directly above competitor Panera Bread), and a third location downtown at 270 Peachtree, close to where White Oak will open later next year.  Corner Bakery also had a location within the Maggiano's at Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody, but it closed a few years ago.

Now, with new ownership and an eye to aggressive growth, Corner Bakery is expanding its metro Atlanta footprint with this first location and I'm told there are others in the works.  Corner Bakery will occupy a portion of a newly constructed outparcel within the recently redeveloped Peachtree Square North Shopping Center.  Not long ago, Dick's Sporting Goods and PetSmart replaced the shuttered Kroger and the entire center got a much needed facelift.  Neighboring Peachtree Square features anchors Target and Publix along with junior anchor T.J. Maxx, in addition to Famous Footwear, Office Depot and Panda Express.  Just in case you're confused like I was, Peachtree Square and Peachtree Square North were previously known as Market Place and Centre Stage respectively.  

Corner Bakery joins a fairly crowded market in the fast casual sandwich category in the area, with Panera Bread and Atlanta Bread Co. both nearby.  Panera Bread is located in a free standing building just south in a neighboring shopping center at the corner of Holcomb Bridge Road and Peachtree Parkway.  Just a couple of minutes north on Peachtree Parkway, Atlanta Bread Co. is located within the Forum shopping center.  Additionally, it's worth noting that Atlanta-based Rising Roll Gourmet opened in Interlochen Village across the street from the Forum, but since closed and is now a Flying Biscuit Cafe.

If you asked me, Rising Roll is probably the worst of the four options, although I'm told Flying Biscuit really wanted their space, so their closure may not have been (entirely) because of poor business.  If Atlanta Bread can roll out a new store layout and design chain-wide, they have a great menu and could compete well against Panera and Corner.  I just feel like their locations are hit or miss.  ( I have become a fan of their Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport location)

Given service is consistent, and prices stay in line with the nearby competition, Corner Bakery should do well in their new location.  Also, as you can see in the photo, Corner Bakery makes a point of identifying (new) locations by the city or neighborhood where they operate.  This Corner Bakery is located at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, California as noted above the Corner Bakery Cafe logo.  This approach, along with its charitable contributions and neighborhood involvement, are well thought out enhancements to the brand that should pay dividends and better distinguish them from their competition.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Welcome addition to the area. It will be much more accessible than Panera; unless you're traveling east on Holcomb Bridge afterwards, it can be a pain to get out of there during even moderate traffic. As a result I don't go.