Monday, January 30, 2012

Zoës Kitchen Opening Three Units as Hometown Competitor Enters Georgia

Birmingham, Alabama-based Zoës Kitchen is adding a total of three new stores to Georgia, two in metro Atlanta.  Zoës Kitchen will soon open locations in East Cobb, Akers Mill and Columbus.  Zoës first entered the Atlanta market in the spring of 2009 with their Peachtree Battle location. The chain added a second location in north Buckhead at Tuxedo Festival in the fall of  2010.

The upcoming location at Akers Mill will open next to Vitamin Shoppe, along Cobb Parkway.  Zoës is opening on the site of a former Krispy Kreme.  Krispy Kreme closed this rather small location in the late 1990s, and surprisingly, the land has sat vacant since.  The site is located at the corner of Cobb Parkway and Akers Mill Road, with Mens' Wearhouse on the adjacent corner, and Cumberland Mall kitty corner from it.  Given this will be Zoës first local ground-up location, it will take longer to build-out, so I'd expect for it to open mid to late summer.

Recently, Akers Mill has welcomed a number of new eateries including Pinkberry and Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint, and will soon welcome a free standing Pollo Tropical and Brooklyn Water Bagel, Old Navy in the former Circuit City, and Golfsmith in the former Toys R Us.

In East Cobb,   Zoës is opening in Merchants Exchange, not to be confused with Merchants Walk.  Exchange features a LA Fitness (in a former Harris Teeter), whereas Merchants Walk features the recently opened Whole Foods Market along with a host of new retailers and restaurants.  Zoës will open to the left of LA Fitness in a corner space just under 3000 square feet.  I'd expect for this location to open by late spring or early summer.

Zoës will also open in Columbus at Columbus Park Crossing shopping center, a new 14,000-square-foot shopping center opening near Ben Carter's multiple existing centers.  The Columbus area boasts a wide variety of retailers and restaurants ranging from Longhorn Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill, to T.J. Maxx and Dick's Sporting Goods.  Zoës is opening along with Five Guys Burgers and Fries in the new center.  Both are expected to open in early spring.

John Cassimus started  Zoës Kitchen in 1995, and in 1998, Keith & Amy Richards opened Taziki's Mediterranean Cafe.  Both are fast casual restaurants featuring Mediterranean fare, and both started in Birmingham, Alabama.  Today, Zoës has nearly 60 locations in twelve states, with a dozen or so more in development.  Taziki's has 17 locations and hopes to have 20 open by year end, and then begin to offer franchising.  One upcoming location will in Sandy Springs at the new Glenridge Springs development.  Glenridge Springs is a new retail and residential complex on Glenridge Drive that is already home to Blue Moon Pizza and will soon welcome a number of other eateries.  The Sandy Springs location will mark the chain's entrance in Georgia, its sixth state.

I found myself in Birmingham recently and while the priority was checking out The Summit, the large retail center where basically everything is located, I also stopped by Taziki's.  Let me just say that I may have intended to eat at Taziki's, but after being served something that didn't even  resemble lamb, I ended up at Al's Deli & Grill, a whole in the wall near the UAB campus.  The gyro I had here was not only less expensive, nearly 50% less, in fact, but also was superior to what I had been served at Taziki's.

Taziki's hopes to open in early March, and I wish 'em all the luck in the world, because if what I experienced in Birmingham is any indication, they will need more than a decent location to survive here.  Mediterranean is my favorite type of food and as far as chains go, Zoës is the best in the market by far.  Later this month, as part of my ongoing efforts to explore what's "new & next", I will explore another Mediterranean chain that may enter the Atlanta market.

Also, it's worth noting that John Cassimus resigned from his post as CEO at Zoës in the fall of 2008, and is currently expanding his latest venture, Maki Fresh.  Maki Fresh is a fast casual Japanese eatery with a number of sushi options along with a few other meat and vegetable dishes.  The first location opened in Birmingham in late 2008, and another opened in the former Bonehead's restaurant in Peachtree Battle this past year.

Have you been to both Zoës and Taziki's? What's your favorite fast-casual eatery?   What fast-casual eatery  that you've tried in another state would you like to see open in Atlanta?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.  

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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love Zoe's. Our sales rep uses them all the time for catering to various offices and always has a good experience. I think they will do well here.

The chicken kabobs are great The chocolate cake is something like a cross between a cake and fudge and will send you into sugar overload.

gator32301 said...

I hadn't heard about Old Navy moving to the old Circuit City location. Will there be anything other then the movie theater left at Parkway Pointe?

Anonymous said...

Hadn't heard about the Old Navy either, that's interesting. Gator's right, Parkway Pointe plaza has lost Borders, Linens n things, Crunch and now Old Navy. Pier 1 and the theater are the only things left. It's going to be like Galleria Mall before you know it, complete with abandoned theater.

Anonymous said...

Taziki's is NOT very good... there are so many good options for Greek in Atlanta... Taziki's should stay in Alabama (yuck).

I do like Zoe's Kitchen though... wish they would open one in Midtown... would do way better than Evos!!

Atlantan99 said...

Yea, Parkway Pointe seems to be going in a different direction than Akers Mill and it aint good.

Atlantan99 said...

A lemonade stand would be better than Evos!

Anonymous said...

For some reason, Birmingham, AL must have more Greek restaurants Per capita than any other place in the south

Anonymous said...

I really like Zoe's. On average, I eat there, or do takeout from there, more than once a week.

I went to Maki Fresh once. I took a large group of people, all of whom like Zoe's, so we had high hopes for the place. None of us will ever go back.

Anonymous said...

Anon..... Birmingham had/has a huge greek/mediterranean population for quite some time.... hence lots of greek food..... Just like memphis has a LARGE Italian population...

Anonymous said...

Zoe's will be a welcome addition to Columbus. For a town with an MSA of 300K it lacks good restaurants.

Anonymous said...

I actually think Columbus has a wonderful mix of nice places to eat. More than most cities it's size.