Atlanta-based CentraArchy has closed their Lenox Square Grill restaurant at Lenox Square in Buckhead. The restaurant opened in late 2009 as a replacement to The Clubhouse and closed this past Friday. Lenox Square Grill featured a far more economical menu than any other sit-down restaurant in the mall, and in Buckhead in general. At the same time, many felt the food quality and service levels were not in line with the group's other restaurants like The Tavern at Phipps and New York Prime.
The most expensive items on the restaurant's menu were a 12 ounce, center-cut ribeye steak, and a Southern Barbecue Feast (1/2 rack of "fall-off-the-bone" pork ribs and half slow-roasted chicken), each $20.95. Many items on the menu were under $15.
The odd thing about the Southern restaurant's closure was that it closed Friday, meaning that today (Sunday), when many would typically dine at the restaurant after church, would-be diners were without their normal meal. While I was informed of the restaurant's closure Saturday afternoon, it was not until late Sunday morning that a Facebook post on the restaurant's website announced its closure.
Ironically, the restaurant space seemed perfect for The Cheesecake Factory, and Lenox Square Grill emulated them by maintaining a menu of moderately priced items and banking on volume to make the restaurant a success.
For me, Lenox Square Grill seemed like the Know Style of restaurants in the mall. Like Know Style, Lenox Square Grill was likely given reduced rent to simply occupy the space for a given duration so that the mall would not be without another restaurant. As best I can tell, it was never meant to be permanent, and was merely a placeholder until a suitable replacement could be found.
Earlier this month, I broke news that The Cheesecake Factory plans to bring their Grand Lux Cafe concept to a portion of the former Crate & Barrel space. In the same post, I mentioned recent chatter indicating that P.F. Chang's China Bistro may be in talks to take over the Lenox Square Grill space.
All of these changes are part of mall owner Simon Property Group's plan to recreate Lenox Square's front to be more pedestrian friendly, and incorporate elements of a lifestyle center. The mall's porte-cochere was removed last year to make way for the coming changes. Ironically, when Lenox Square opened in 1959, it was an open air mall (similar to today's lifestyle centers)
While work is currently underway within the former Crate & Barrel, mall contacts tell me that additional work will soon begin in other areas of the mall including the front and rear, near the food court.
What is your favorite CentraArchy restaurant? What would you like to see replace Lenox Square Grill? Would you be in favor of P.F. Chang's as a replacement? Please weigh in below.