Monday, August 13, 2012

Johnny Rockets Closures Caused by Emergence of "Better Burger" Chains?

Aliso Viejo, California-based Johnny Rockets has quietly closed a number of locations in Atlanta recently.  Once with a great number of locations across the Atlanta area, the retro chain is down to only five, which are mostly in and around tourist attractions.  Those remaining are in Underground Atlanta, Arbor Place Mall, Six Flags Over Georgia, Six Flags White Water and adjacent to the Atlanta Aquarium on Luckie Street downtown.

The chain once had a location at North DeKalb Mall, but it closed years ago.  More recently the chain shuttered its longstanding West Paces Ferry Road location and after initially closing their Phipps Plaza location in the wake of the LEGOLAND opening and announcing that it would not re-open,  it then did re-open near Legoland.  Johnny Rockets also closed its location in the food court of Discover Mills in Lawrenceville, as well as at the Avenues East Cobb.

While Johnny Rockets has reduced its store count, newcomers like FIVE GUYS and Smashburger have opened multiple new locations.  Both Lorton, Virginia-based FIVE GUYS and Denver, Colorado-based Smashburger are considered "better burger" concepts as they focus almost exclusively on offering numerous gourmet burgers.  FIVE GUYS  currently has over 35 locations in the metro area including two at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  Smashburger has five locations open with plans for for at least three more by the end of the year.

In the coming months North Palm Beach, Florida-based BurgerFi will open their first metro area location at Emory Point on Clifton Road.  Earlier this summer, Lansdowne, Virginia based BGR  The Burger Joint opened in place of a former Doc Green's at Atlantic Station.  

Is the burger business too much for chains like Johnny Rockets? Have "better burger" chains like Smashburger and Atlanta-based Farm Burger left no room for this beleaguered chain?  What is your favorite place to grab a burger? 

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Lee at said...

Don't forget Burger 21, a Florida concept that has eyes on the Atlanta burbs (Alpharetta and Buford).

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, 5 Napkin closed after only a year in business. Burgers have hit their saturation point (no pun intended).

Danny Glusman said...

Every other chain is focusing on menu and customer service, Johnny Rockets is still focused on cute dance numbers and jukeboxes. They will only do well near tourist attractions where kids are around. I recently took my 3 kids to Phipps lo...cation and was wondering why they hadn't updated their concept in so long. I love smashburger for their menu, value, and quality (one of the best salad deals in town), JR has not added updated a thing to cater to changing eating habits. I have eaten gluten free for the past 5 years, Johnny Rockets couldnt even tell me if their burgers or chili were actually gluten free, their website basically states "if you are gluten free don't eat here", every other burger company states allergen information on their website and in the stores. I hope they get the message kids really liked the place.

Anonymous said...

Dont forget Steak and Shake, which is (was?) more directly in competition with Johnny Rockets IMHO. The same retro thing, much better food and no dance routines. I have yet to see a S&S that is not busy any night of the week.

TheJohnP said...

Steak and Shake are also generally open a lot later, as they're freestanding. Their prices are a lot more reasonable than what I recall JR charging for their menu. The problem with S&S (and JR) is that they're all pretty slow for a quick service restaurant.