The casual bakery cafe chain, similar to St. Louis based Panera Bread, will open in the former LongHorn Steakhouse at Akers Mill shopping center on Cobb Parkway near Cumberland Mall. Akers Mill Shopping Center has welcomed not only a relocated and expanded LongHorn Steakhouse (now occupying a portion of the former Circuit City) but a host of other fast casual concepts. Over the past year or so, Uncle Maddio's Pizza Joint, Pollo Tropical and most recently a freestanding Zoës Kitchen have all opened there.
Corner Bakery, along with its parent company Il Fornaio, was purchased by Atlanta-based Roark Capital in 2011, and has been expanding since the acquisition. A freestanding location opened at the redeveloped Peachtree Square North center near Peachtree Corners last year, and another is coming soon near Haynes Bridge Road and North Point Drive, just off Georgia 400.
The first Corner Bakery 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. For many years, Corner Bakery was found in most Maggiano's Little Italy restaurants, including those in Buckhead and Perimeter Mall. The Buckhead location remains open (as does the one in nearby Lenox Square) but the restaurant within the Maggiano's at Perimeter Mall closed a few years ago. There is also a location at 270 Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta.
Interestingly, Roark Capital owners of the Corner Bakery, also own Schlotzsky's Deli, of which there is already a location across the street from the planned Corner Bakery. Schlotzsky's has seemingly struggled amidst an ever growing fast casual landscape where sandwich shops like Which Wich? and Jason's Deli have grown in popularity. While Schlotzsky's and Corner Bakery don't offer an identical menu, they do compete in the same segment and offer similar items at similar prices.
What are your thoughts? Do you prefer Corner Bakery Cafe over Panera Bread? What is your favorite Akers Mill eatery?
Please weigh in below and share your thoughts.