Boston, Massachusetts-based Au Bon Pain is coming back to Atlanta.
The fast casual bakery & cafe eatery plans to open a new location at Piedmont Hospital on Peachtree Road in April.
The chain closed their locations at Atlantic Station and Allen Plaza in 2008 and 2009 respectively. The Atlantic Station location lasted about six months before closing, while the Allen Plaza location lasted a little longer. The Allen Plaza closure was more of an eviction as the bakery's furniture, fixtures and equipment were all left outside. (The Atlantic Station location reopened as Tin Drum Asia Cafe while the Allen Plaza location became Harvest Bistro)
Casual dining options near Piedmont Hospital have become more limited recently given that Saigon Cafe closed this past fall, itself a replacement to Mama Fu's. Fresh 4 U Mediterranean Cafe, Jimmy John's and Chick-fil-A though all remain open in the same center.
Au Bon Pain offers a menu similar to that of Panera Bread with a variety of sandwiches, salads, soups and assorted baked goods. Panera has added metro Atlanta locations in Ansley Mall, Powers Ferry Shopping Center in North Buckhead, and most recently a new location on Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw.
Au Bon Pain on the other hand, in opening at Piedmont Hospital, is following what seems to have been their successful strategy in other markets like New York and Pennsylvania. Many of their restaurants are located in "destination centers," where dining options may be limited, and they are one of the only ones. Examples would be within hospitals, office buildings, universities, airports and bus stations.
Atlanta-based Rising Roll Gourmet has followed a similar growth plan having added locations to Monarch Plaza in Buckhead, the Candler Building in midtown and within the Piedmont West Medical facility on Howell Mill Road.
With local medical centers around the nation finally cracking down on fast food eateries like McDonald's and seeking healthier fare to be available to patients, friends and family, Au Bon Pain may find themselves in a good position for continued growth.
I'd love for Earl of Sandwich or The Melt make their way to Atlanta. What sandwich or casual eatery would you like to see come to (or return to) the metro area? Miami Subs? Whataburger? Cosi? Drop me a line in the comment section below and weigh in.