The Atlanta Diner had been a fixture on North Druid Hills Road, just off I-85 since the mid 90s but closed over a month ago. The parcel is rather small but does offer access from both North Druid Hills Road as well as West Druid Hills Drive. Access to the restaurant from North Druid Hills is easiest for those drivers approaching I-85 south or employees of the various businesses on West Druid Hills Drive coming to or leaving work.
Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's already has a franchised McDonald's restaurant at 2210 North Druid Hills Road on the opposite side of I-85, which was built in 1991, and recently completed the brand's refreshed look.
As I noted when the Atlanta Diner closed, the parcel is rather small, in my mind limiting its uses. I had hoped, and judging from comments and emails, others did too, that a chain like Bojangles' might take space. Charlotte-based Bojangles' has plenty of OTP locations, but has thus far been unable to crack into the intown market.
McDonald's has applied to DeKalb County for a reduction in the amount of onsite parking, leading me to believe their intent is to have a primarily drive thru oriented restaurant with limited, if any, onsite seating. The request was to be heard yesterday, October 10th, but was deferred until next month.
The drive thru only model has worked for chains like Checkers for years, and in select locations of Chick-fil-A as well. Most Checkers locations feature twin drive thrus with a few outdoor tables for diners opting to eat onsite. Chick-fil-A has triple drive thru locations on North Druid Hills outside North DeKalb Mall, and on Cobb Parkway at Akers Mill.
Norcross-based Waffle House has a long history of having locations close to one another, at times on each side of the same exit. For many years, Waffle House had locations on each side of I-85 at Clairmont Road, just one exit north of the proposed McDonald's. Waffle House also once had another location on the Northeast Expressway, adjacent to NTB, now home to Mega Marble.
Given that QSR restaurants usually derive at least 50% of their business from drive thru traffic, it's a little easier to comprehend McDonald's' plans even with their other restaurant so close. This location would serve a separate set of customers and would not require the same upkeep or labor as a normal McDonald's would. It's too early to say for sure, but given the location and the fact that The Atlanta Diner was open 24 hour a day, perhaps the McDonald's will maintain the same hours.
There are also plans for a new McDonald's on Clairmont Road near Buford Highway which would replace an existing Buford Highway location less than a half mile away.
What are your thoughts? Are you bummed this parcel will likely not become a Bojangles'? Are you still missing the Atlanta Diner? Are you looking forward to satisfying your need for a McFlurry on your way home from work? Please weigh in and share your thoughts in the comment section below.