Tuesday, March 19, 2013

DeathWatch Q1 2013

This past year Atlanta lost a number of restaurants and retailers and in some cases, they opened and closed within the year.  I've taken a good hard look at last year's DeathWatch list, and have added a few, and subtracted a few. These changes were made as I was provided additional details and could therefore make a better assessment of the business. These are my own personal opinions and should be taken as such. It is not now, nor has it ever been, my goal to cheer failures, instead I call out problems and hopefully steer operators and owners clear of poor locations and half-baked concepts.  Among the eateries that I included on the DeathWatch which later closed were Boardwalk Burger & Fries-Sandy Springs, and more recently, midtown, The Great Cupcake Company, NAVA, Lime Fresh Mexican, Deckard's, Encore Restaurant, Menchie's (West Paces Ferry), Zhaddy's Cafe, O.M.G. Taco, 3 of three Swirll yogurt shops and OTB 5 Napkin Burger.  Despite many haters and doubters,  Bloomingdale's Perimeter and Barney's New York CoOp Phipps Plaza both closed, as did 7 For All Mankind at Lenox Square and Caposhi on Peachtree Road. 

Please find Q1's list after the jump....

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Eateries

Artuzzi's Italian Kitchen (Alpharetta) Artuzzi's was launched by a group of early Moe's Southwest Grill franchisees who sought to create their own concept and franchise it. At its peak, Artuzzi's had 7 or so locations open, but this is the only one currently in operation. I'd bet this location does not make it past the summer.

Big Kahuna (Downtown)  This "California-style" restaurant took forever to open and has one of the worst downtown locations imaginable.  Add to this management that is not all there and "flex casual" pricing, and one can imagine what a cluster this place will become.  With ownership apparently involved previously in Twisted Taco, it's no wonder the bar has an entire page dedicated to alcohol.  If anything saves this place, it will be the alcohol sales.  Personally, I don't think this place has much of a chance and I give them one year, max.

BLT (W Downtown) Bistro Laurent Tourondel's BLT at the W Downtown is hardly the hit they hoped it would be. After the restaurant opened in 2009, I had dinner there before an event. My $45 sea bass was awful, and matched by the (lack of) attentiveness of the staff. The fact that the restaurant serves as the hotel kitchen is certainly helping them. As a restaurant alone, it would surely have closed by now. Recent chatter indicates a change may be in the works, though a timetable for that possible change is unknown at this time.

Boneheads ( TOWN Brookhaven)  This restaurant is terrible, the location is terrible, the idea to open was terrible.  I see a closure in less than six months.

Bone Lick BBQ (Westside)  Bone Lick's BBQ is OK, but not great, and it's in a parking challenged project.   I expect for this joint to last no more than 14 months. 

Canyons Burger Company (Brookhaven) Canyons was started by former Moe's franchisees in 2008 who wisely cashed out and sold their then two-unit concept to  David Kim of Baja Fresh (and other investors) in 2009. Over three years later, the chain consists of five locations in four states, lagging behind local concepts like Farm Burger and national players like Smash Burger and Five Guys. Woodstock may stay open but Brookhaven has too good of a location to sit and fail.  I see Canyon's Brookhaven location closing inside of three months.

Colbeh (Decatur)  This Persian kitchen and bar has the makings of a success but falls flat on food and price.  The food lacks imagination and in some cases flavor, and its location is not the best when it comes to Decatur real estate.  I give 'em til the fall to fold.

Der Biergarten (Downtown / Luckie Marietta District) - It's a dumb name, crappy location and a niche cuisine. I went to the opening and took a friend of German descent, we both agreed on one thing: once in a while we might want a Bratwurst or Schnitzel or what have you, but there is no way that this will be a viable concept long term. Legacy Property Group and its principal David Marvin will surely continue to operate this as long as they consider it financially feasible, but something tells me it won't be too much longer.

do! (Westside)  With so much spent on iPads and technology, I think they forgot they are a restaurant.  The pizza is mediocre and pales in comparison to even OK options like Max's Coal Oven Pizzeria.  I can't imagine this gimmick lasting longer than six to eight months more.

Double Zero Napoletana (Sandy Springs)  With brother and sister team Federico and Stephanie Castellucci's  success at two Sugo restaurants in Roswell and Johns Creek and Iberian Pig in Decatur, one would have thought they knew what they were doing.  One would be wrong.  Double Zero, on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs, is too big, overpriced and just not that good.  I expect the plug to be pulled on this burnt pizza later this summer, if not sooner.

Erbert & Gerbert's (Decatur) - A local husband and wife chose one of the worst possible locations to open Atlanta's first Erbert & Gerbert's. Located along East Ponce de Leon Avenue, the restaurant is not within the city limits of Decatur and is not close enough to walk from anywhere. Its closest neighbor is the adult entertainment club Pin-Ups and something tells me they don't see much business from there. I give 'em props for having the cool new Coca-Cola Freestyle machine that features over 100 beverages, but that alone will not save them. Not far away, IN Decatur, Jimmy John's recently opened and serves (IMHO) better food at a more customer friendly price point. All in all, decent concept, decent food plus horrific location spell failure for this new-to-town fast casual concept. The fact that the restaurant has been featured on multiple deal sites such as Sweetjack provides more evidence of their troubles. As far as I'm concerned, one deal site: good idea... more than one: desperate. One reader even wrote me to make me aware they were offering incentives for shill reviews on Yelp. Having been featured on both SweetJack and ScoutMob as well as other deal sites, there comes a time when it's not marketing, but looks more desperate than anything. Based on current intel and market conditions, I'd say this restaurant will be closed by the early fall.

Escorpión (Midtown) Riccardo Ullio needs to just be content with the success of Fritti and Sotto Sotto and give it a rest. After the failures of Cuerno, Beleza and La Lupe Taqueria, taking over the even less desirable space where El Escorpion opened was a terrible idea.  The restaurant was featured for months on deal site Posh Dealz where one could purchase a $20 gift certificate for a mere five bucks.  This was in addition to a prior offer of 50% off on Scoutmob.  Giving away food at 50-75% off is to me a sign of desperation, not marketing, but hey, time will tell if Ullio's deals turn out to bite him in the...

EVOS (Sandy Springs) - The original franchisees opened locations at The Prado in Sandy Springs and Viewpoint in Midtown. Another location was announced for Roswell but wisely never opened.  Just as DeathWatch Year End 2010 launched, the midtown location closed. With new franchisees in place, the shuttered location in midtown was reopened then closed again. It's too niche to be mainstream and therefore will not succeed. The chain has apparently thrived in its home state of Florida where it now has seven locations but Atlantans seem less willing to give up their better burgers for better-for-you burgers.  The terrible parking situation and zero visibility from Roswell Road make the Prado location doomed to failure.  Without a subsidy from Sembler, I don't see this healthy fast food joint making it past the summer.

Five Guys (Northside Drive/Peachtree Street [Spire]) Five Guys is a prime example of a fast casual chain getting too big, too fast. It has opened far too many locations, too fast, often opening in poor locations just to have a presence in a desired neighborhood. Cases in point: their locations at Tivoli Tenside on Northside Drive and their recent opening at Spire in midtown. Neither location is easily accessible by patrons driving by, and the Northside location never seems busy. With Spire having just opened, it's too early to call them slow, but that is my prediction. Unless rent is reduced to pennies, I'd say the Tenside location lasts another 6 months or so, and the Peachtree location, not much more than a year.

Genki (Sandy Springs/The Prado) - Genki expanded from its popular Buckhead outpost on Roswell Road to the Prado last year and it could not have been a worse decision. On Roswell in Buckhead, the eatery is on a prime stretch of Roswell just before it merges into Peachtree. I don't know the exact traffic counts, but they are high. Sadly though, in the Prado, tucked in the back of the center near Joli Kobe and 5 Seasons Brewery, there is far less traffic, and Genki is surrounded by EVOS and the now closed Yoreka (soon to be Subway), among others. Larry's Giant Subs threw in the towel in the adjacent storefront.

Gigi's Cupcakes (Merchants Walk) Nashville-based Gigi's Cupcakes is one of the largest franchisees of cupcakes and I'm sure Gigi is doing well as a result. As far as the franchisees go though, I think too many were opened too fast, and in some cases, in poor locations.

H. Harper Station (Reynoldstown)  The restaurant has not lived up to expectations of any and is currently listed for sale.  I would not be surprised to see this eatery close by summer.

J.R. Crickets (Colony Square)  This popular restaurant which dates from 1982, should have known better to open in Colony Square.  The demographics of Colony Square simply can't support this local chain with a cult-like popularity.  A deal on Scoutmob and a listing of the business on a real estate website to "keep or convert" lead me to believe this restaurant's days are numbered.  I think a cricket is just about all that you will hear at this restaurant in a few months.

Lime Fresh Mexican Grill (All Atlanta Area Locations)  Now a wholly owned subsidiary of Ruby Tuesday, the chain faces a number of obstacles in penetrating the Atlanta market.  After opening three locations over the course of just a few months this past year, Lime has already closed their Peachtree Hills restaurant after only eight months in business.  I visited once and found the food just OK, but overpriced.  Expect for Lime locations in Buckhead and Midtown to close by year's end, likely sooner. 

Mae's Bakery (Lenox Rd./Buckhead-y)  I've been here a few times, I like a few of their goods but the prices are on the high side and the location is on the terrible side. 

Mellow Mushroom (Downtown at Twelve Centennial Park) Located not far from the original eatery at North Avenue, this location opened with much fanfare but has never been able to capture customers after the white collars leave for the day and go home for dinner. Its location is far from ideal, with parking located on one-way Spring Street and within the TWELVE condos. Panchero's nearby didn't even last a year and Au Bon Pain across the street didn't last much longer. I dined here recently and counted 4 employees for every customer... and it was trivia night! I'm no hospitality genius, but labor cost is pretty important to the bottom line and if what I saw is any indication, this restaurant will be toast sooner rather than later.

Modern (Buckhead) Modern opened in place of Copeland's and after taking a year to open, passersby would have no idea.  I've been there and found the food largely uninspired despite what should be a good showing from chef  Mark Alba.  The interior is dreadful and lacks any real character or substance.  Though parking was made easier by drive up valet, it's still not worth your time.  *With the recent developments at the restaurant, my once summer prediction is now early spring.

Park's Edge (Inman Park) Not even Kitchen Nightmares could save this restaurant. I have not a clue how it has stayed open for as long as it has but it will surely not last much longer. I'm not sure there is a line of people waiting to take over their space but I am sure they will not be open next fall.

Pinkberry (all locations)  In a highly competitive yogurt market, Pinkberry has simply not performed.  More economical self serve options have become the industry standard and Pinkberry has failed to innovate and keep up.

Pita's Republic (Midtown) Florida-based Pita's Republic entered the Atlanta market with its midtown location. After many delays, the eatery opened in July of last year. A falafel enthusiast, I was eager to try theirs. Boy, was I disappointed. They use pre-made falafel balls and wraps made for burritos rather than, dare I say it, PITAS! The space has been a few things, even a Gyro Wrap (Great Wraps) back in the day, and even they couldn't make it. While plans are on the books for a second location in Sandy Springs, I say, go back to Florida and save some money. I'll give this place till April to call it a wrap. For the record, awesome falafel are available in Buckhead at Al's Cafe Agora, near Emory at Pita Palace, and in Sandy Springs at Cafe Posh.

Pizzeria Venti (Buckhead) - Atlanta-based Pizzeria Venti is in a tough spot, in more ways than one. Located on Lenox Road, in Lenox Village Shopping Center, the center and road outside it always cluttered with "Pizza" signs but the place is rarely busy. Its location is far from prime and not convenient or known for that matter, by most Buckhead residents. Given that the chain is still new, having started in 2003, and only has a handful of locations, they can't be taking lightly the thought of seeing this location close, so perhaps corporate will assist either financially or in a relocation effort.

Rise Sushi (Downtown) - Located within David Marvin's Luckie Marietta District, the restaurant has been on life support for over a year. Given their lack of sales, I'm not sure how they continue to operate but surely they will close by May.

Southern Art (Within the InterContinental Buckhead Hotel) The restaurant is yet another ill-conceived concept with an out of town chef as its figurehead and little else exciting about it. The food is just OK  nothing special, and the service continues to be subpar for such a high end environment. My one visit included a number of mis-steps including being charged a higher amount on our tab than was quoted on the menu. The management of both the restaurant and accompanying hotel have both changed, and it shows. The property went from being a corporate jewel to just another hotel, far too focused on the bottom line than the customers it's supposedly serving. Southern Art has racked up one star reviews from both the AJC and Creative Loafing, so I'm not alone in my thinking that this is one of the worst additions to the local dining scene. The fact that the communal table in the lobby is the same table from the now defunct Au Pied de Cochon, complete with trotter (pig feet) as its legs, is a sad example of what a cheap, half-assed makeover occurred to create just another restaurant. Who knows how much time or money new owner Pebblebrook wants to dump into this eatery, but if they have a clue, they'll pull the plug within 18 months.

Sprig (Oak Grove) I should love this place, my whole neighborhood should, but alas, I don't, nor do most on Yelp and elsewhere. The restaurant is located on LaVista Road in Oak Grove, within walking distance for many families, myself included. An overpriced menu and lackluster service make this joint destined for doom.  One reader even reports they surcharged her for ice!  I'd like for them to get it together and stay, but the writing's on the wall and it reads CLOSING SOON. I'd give 'em til the summer, at the most.

STEEL (Midtown/Plaza Midtown) Dallas-based STEEL has somehow stuck around for a number of years at the corner of West Peachtree and Peachtree Place. A number of boutique, bank, apparel and restaurant closures at Plaza Midtown have finally taken their toll on STEEL. With decreased hours and talk they are in trouble financially, I'd expect them to close within three months or so.

Swirlin' Twirilin' (Decatur) With basically zero barriers to entry, seems like everyone and their mother is opening a yogurt shop (or burgers, or hot dogs). Swirlin' Twirlin's other location is in Flowery Branch, and from what I can tell, it does well there. In the less competitive market of Flowery Branch, they are able to get away with charging 43 cents per ounce whereas in Decatur, they adjusted their pricing to meet that of neighborhood favorite The Yogurt Tap. A bit of a yogurt snob myself, I would say that The Yogurt Tap has a superior product and a better location. Neither shop has very much easily accessible (or free) parking, but head to head, I think The Yogurt Tap wins overall. That said, and the fact that it is run by OTP'ers, not locals from the area, I think Swirlin' Twirlin' will last no more than a year, likely less.

Tantra (South Buckhead) Having been featured on what seems like every deal site in Atlanta, this joint is in trouble. Not the best of locations or food, this restaurant and lounge is bound to be closed within six months.

The Cup (TOWN Brookhaven) This independent cupcake shop was one of the first eateries to open in TOWN Brookhaven and that alone could have done them in. Instead, in addition to that, their offerings are basically all overpriced and their cupcakes, undersized, especially given what you can get at Cloud 9 or Smallcakes. Given their location away from the new CineBistro, they will not get much business from even theatergoers, so I'd say they are up a creek. If nothing changes in terms of size or price, I think they could be closed by the end of April.

Truffles Grill (Buckhead)  Ruby Tuesday purchased the then three unit Truffles Grill in 2010 and expanded the concept to new markets including Atlanta and Winter Park Florida. In Atlanta, the restaurant took the place of a Ruby Tuesday restaurant.  While it opened as Truffles Grill, it has since been rebranded as Truffles Cafe to sound more casual. This past January, Ruby Tuesday announced they were closing their Marlin & Rays chain and seeking a buyer for their Truffles Grill restaurants.  With an uncertain future and mediocre product, I'd expect the Buckhead restaurant to close before fall.

Scoreboards****(Clairmont) Opened by Emory students, this location seems cursed, and I doubt these amateurs will have any better luck. Athens Pizza was originally located here before relocating to a larger, free standing space nearby. In recent years, Moya and Selam both opened there, and neither did well, with Selam lasting less than a year. The space seems to be the resting place for failed concepts, the Nest being the latest example followed by its subsequent Scoreboards renaming.  My money is on them closing by late summer, if not sooner.

The Real Chow Baby (Ponce de Leon location) Need I repeat myself? The food is good, the location awful.

{three} sheets (Sandy Springs) - Located at City Walk, this restaurant was opened by the children of RCG's (Restaurants Consulting Group) owner Tony Akly and it's my impression they have a long lease. That said, it's unlikely they will close until someone comes in to buy them out. The restaurant is busy but only for monthly special events such as the grilled cheese dinner and flavor tripping parties. It's hard to imagine the restaurant making sufficient profit if they are only busy a couple days each month. This place will last as long as daddy Akly continues to foot the bill.

TREZA (TOWN Brookhaven) This so-called fast casual concept has improved a number of things since opening during the fall of 2011, but I don't think they can save it from failure. Among the noticeable changes, non branded napkins, and preparing just six rather than twelve of the restaurant's 50 rotating daily gelato flavors which saved plenty from being thrown out nightly. Additionally, three large TVs in the restaurant that used to display rotating non professional photos of select menu items are now often in the off position, saving energy. Also, the exterior doors used to be cluttered with flyers about trivia and their social media presence, but have been cleared of most of the excess signage of late. The largest change I've noticed was a decrease in menu prices across the board.  From the pizzas to the salads, all were tweaked between 50 cents and a few dollars, from what I saw. All this to say it's evident they are trying to right their wrong, but I don't think Atlanta can or will support this concept. It's an interesting idea and if properly executed at the onset and in another location, it might have succeeded but TOWN Brookhaven has not been friendly to new or out of town restaurants like Slacks, which was the first to close. I don't want to give this place a timetable for demise because I do have hope for them, I just don't think it will happen.

Truva (Downtown) - They added outdoor dining, but I doubt that will save them. Their Mediterranean cuisine is OK, but not the best by any means. They did what they could with the former Steak and Ale space but it just does not "seduce your senses." I don't know their lease structure but I doubt they make it past this year.

U.S. Cafe (Lindbergh) Being on Scoutmob for a second time is never a good sign. The fact that Smashburger opened across the street from them can't have helped things. Their product is good but they should have remained in Smyrna and not dumped a small fortune into the buildout and rent of a Buckhead location. I doubt they last till late summer.

Yardhouse (Atlantic Station)  The previous owners of Yardhouse were apparently duped into believing Atlantic Station was a good location for their restaurant by none other than Mark Toro.  Toro allegedly lured 20 somethings to the beleaguered midtown project with happy hour offers (in partnership with other restaurants) during the time Yardhouse reps toured the project and provided them a false sense of the demographics of a "typical" day at the center.  This (perceived) deception has led current Yardhouse owner, Darden, to pull away from their planned restaurant at Toro's Atlantic Station 2 Avalon in Alpharetta.  It may be too big a blow to the growing company to close the Atlantic Station store as soon as they'd like, but I'm sure as soon as they can, they will.

Yebo (Phipps Plaza)  10 Degrees South is a popular restaurant, Yebo is not.  The space is apparently in Phipps' master plan to not be leaseable space in the future.  Simon management gave Yebo a two year lease, I'd be surprised to see them last one.

Zuma Sushi & Saki Bar (Toco Hills) Zuma at Tco Hills, along with with its sister location on Highland Avenue, have been on Scoutmob, which by itself is not that bad, but they have been featured repeatedly on the deal site, which spells trouble in my eyes. The Highland location has done well for years, whereas the Toco location was a rebranding of the Maldives restaurant. Service issues and increased area competition will undoubtedly lead to a Toco Hills closure in the coming months.

Retail

7 Camicie (Phipps Plaza)  I don't have any words for this place other than placeholder. cluster. random. fail.

Athleta (Atlantic Station)  GAP should have known better than to open this concept in Atlantic Station.  The demographics of the failed intown project simply do not match Athleta.  Unless Mark Toro opts to give the store a financial incentive to stay put (something I doubt he would EVER do), expect to see them fail and close inside of a year. 


Gregory's (Buckhead - Lenox Square) What a joke! Jedal, a member of the DeathWatch up until this edition closed late last year and was basically a mini version of what Gregory's is, with many unheard of Italian designers at outrageous prices. Even at liquidation prices, Jedal's prices were above others' more well known designers' regular prices. In Atlanta, like it or not, the consumers with money (and even those on credit), know what they want and buy it, not up and coming designers without an established and visible brand. Despite hearing the store has been well received with local sports athletes and their spouses, I see Gregory's lasting a year or so, max.

h.h. gregg (Buckhead)  The electronics and appliance retailer replaced another similar store in Circuit City and has not done well, as best I can tell.  The parking lot is rarely crowded and they clearly did not do their homework.  Come Black Friday, this location's markdowns will be permanent. 

Michael Stars (Phipps Plaza) The retailer never really built out their Phipps Plaza space and it makes it seem like a temporary space.  I would not be surprised to see this shop call it quits in the next 90 days.

Penguin (Buckhead - Lenox Square) Penguin is a lifestyle brand that has failed to make one understand why they should buy simple polos from their store when they can easily be had so many other places. Marshall's and T.J. Maxx carry their wares and accessories all the time as do department stores like Macy's and Nordstrom. The fact that the store seems to offer a 30% discount for assorted reasons seemingly every other week can't be a sign of a strong store. I've heard a store relocation to a known "temp space" is in the works which does not speak highly of their success. Come next year, Penguin will have flown from Lenox Square.

Sack's Thrift & Antiques (Duluth)  Sack Thrift & Antiques, previously known as Sack's Thrift Avenue, opened in a portion of a former Kmart in Duluth over two years ago.  They stocked their store with closeout and liquidation items from such retail failures as Linens 'n Things, Borders and Filene's Basement.  This for-profit "thrift store" had plans for multiple other stores, but has seemingly not had the success they thought they would have.  I've visited a few times and am often one of only a handful of shoppers.  My money is on this concept following in the path of their suppliers in closing, likely by fall.
Valentino (Buckhead /Phipps Plaza) It's sad to say, but this is just not a store Atlantans will support. With couture designs and a select clientele, I'd be surprised if this store has made "plan" a single month since opening. This couture label is past its prime and unless Buckhead Betty's grandmother is in there more often than I realize, I doubt they will be in business much longer.

Versace (Buckhead/Phipps Plaza) Once a favorite in Atlanta and elsewhere, the store's glitzy makeover (and size reduction) last year could not save this store. Its sales are down and it's lost its luster and relevance to Atlanta shoppers. I doubt they will be around next holiday season.

VINCE (Buckhead/Phipps Plaza) A day does not go by that I can't locate multiple VINCE items for women, and at times, for men, at deeply discounted prices at the likes of Marshall's and T.J. Maxx. Those who know the brand can easily find it cheaper elsewhere and those unfamiliar with the line are turned off by the simple clothing with a relatively high retail price. I'd say all the Vs of Phipps (Valentino. Versace and VINCE) all close around the same time, and all by this fall.

Von Maur ( North Point & Perimeter Mall ) Davenport, Iowa-based Von Maur entered the Atlanta market in 2011 with a location at North Point Mall in Alpharetta and later took over the Bloomindale's in Perimeter Mall.  Ahead of the Perimeter Mall announcement, Jim von Maur said that sales at the North Point store have exceeded expectations and that was the main reason for their expansion. The one glaring issue with this being that Von Maur's North Point store replaced what had been a vacant Belk / Lord & Taylor and it opened during the fourth quarter of the year. The fourth quarter is usually busiest for many sectors, chief among them: RETAIL! For Mr. Von Maur to base his expansion plans on the performance of a store that replaced an empty storefront leading up to the holiday shopping season is ludicrous. Many businesses, retailers among them, report on their earnings and sales based on results from "stores open at least a year" or "same store sales", thereby getting a better idea of the success of the business and not take into account the immediate boost a business might feel as a result of a new store opening. Location aside, Von Maur's "Good, better, best" brand strategy is not gonna fly in Atlanta and their overall branding and signage is pretty poor within the North Point store. It's as if they did no research into the local market and just said to themselves "it'll work." Their store store design is dreadful not to mention the dated emerald green carpeting. OTP billboards proclaiming "we know all the same people" are cute, but that ain't gonna get me to buy anything, especially at Perimeter where Nordstrom is. Atlanta is not the market for Von Maur. I think they will do OK in their upcoming Riverchase Galleria Mall store but in Atlanta, their chances for success are slim. I doubt either location is open in 24 months.

**At least two  retailers and at least one restaurant at Shops Around Lenox will fail not because their food is bad, or they are overpriced, but because management simply allowed for too many businesses to open in the center.

OTB or On The Bubble ; These businesses are questionable but not so much so that they've earned a place on the DeathWatch. As with the DeathWatch, please feel free to weigh in and share your thoughts on any or all of the listed businesses.

57th Fighter Restaurant (Near PDK Airport)
Corner Tavern ( all locations )
Bad Dog Taqueria (Emory Village)
Nacho Daddy's (Duluth)
P'cheen (Old Fourth Ward)
Peter Chang's (Sandy Springs)
Pricci ( Buckhead )
Prickly Pear (Midtown)

STG (Buckhead)
Sweet Georgia's Juke Joint (Downtown)
Tuk Tuk Thai Food Loft (SoBu / Brookwood)
Twisted Taco ( Buckhead )

Know something I missed or think I'm way off? Leave me a comment and share your thoughts.

52 comments:

mindspringyahoo said...

What is this, the 6th or 7th quarter in a row you've predicted sprig's imminent demise??

We're kind of so-so on them. I've had some things I really liked, but others that I was not so crazy about. The strangest were the two mini-biscuits they gave us last time, each the size of a quarter (literally).

I'm surprised you never predicted the demise of kitschn 155. Sprig should buy Kitschn's menu and recipes...

Anonymous said...

If you were including hotels on this list, you might add Melia Hotel Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

Kind of surprised you didn't mention Treza at Town Brookhaven. Have their results improved since the redo of the concept?

Atlantan99 said...

@mindspringyahoo,

Yes, I agree, Sprig has somehow mangaged to stay on and I'm nopt quite sure how.

As for Kitsch'n 155, they would have been on this list had they not already closed. I visited once and thought it was ok and overpriced. Neighbors seemed to like the convenience and from my many drive bys, kept em busy. I don't really buy the cover story on the closing.

Thanks for reading and for the comments.

Anonymous said...

regarding Double Zero, that's called Karma, baby. They have NO integrity.

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon,

Melia Hotel... yea, you are probably on to something. They have dumped a ton of money into it and and are calling it their U.S. flagship so I think I'll give em a lil longer.

Thanks for reading and for the comments.

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon RE: Treza,

Treza IS on the list ;)

Thanks for reading and for the comment.

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon RE: Double Zero,

In related news, Sugo Roswell will close later this week. #Karma ;)

Thanks for reading the blog and for the comments.

Anonymous said...

Wow, as its been stated before you really have it out for your former partner and his colleagues at Atlantic Station don't you? Better watch the slander sir....strong accusations you have in your newsletter today.

SB said...

Great work Eli. Looking fwd to sharing this with others.

I think Darden has very deep pockets so the Yardhouse will likely be there for a few years.

Anonymous said...

FYI, Sugo Johns Creek is always busy and their customer service is great. Now if you could only get their servers to stop explaining every single item when you ask them to stop ....

Anonymous said...

What are you batting on these things? 10% 20%?

I love how the word 'humility' doesn't seem to fit in your vocabulary. If a restaraunt has been on your Deathwatch for over 2 years (Mellow, Real Chow, etc. etc. etc.) you got it wrong and should admit as much.

Hey...where's Yeah Burger and HD1 on your list? I thought you tagged those years ago. (LOLZ! What a joke.)

Anonymous said...

RE: Double Zero,

That space is cursed. Since 1994/1995 it has been Cabo Wabo(rip off of Sammy Hagar’s Bar), a Three Dollar Café, Wall Street Café, a sushi place that never opened and a couple of other names I cannot think of.

Erik from the Burbs said...

Add Three Dollar Cafe Jr on Windy Hill Road to bubble list. Place been there almost a year but do people even know it is there.
Also, 57th Fighter Group keeps opening and closing. Anybody know why?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the updates.
Sprig seems to be picking up. We were in there last Saturday. We didn't have a reservation and came in at around 6:15, were told we got the last table without a reservation, which seemed odd, as 2/3 of the tables were empty. But within 20 minutes the place was packed, the bar was packed, etc.

Anonymous said...

Agreed on The Cup...went there after a movie and it was terrible.

By the way that yogurt place in The Prado closed so long ago that there is definitely a Subway in there now.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis, as always, Eli.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis, as always, Eli.

Anonymous said...

Good analysis, as always, Eli.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe Czar Ice Bar isn't on this list. Not sure how it is still open??

Unknown said...

What do these restaurants have in common?
Artuzzi's, BLT, Der Biergarten, Erbert & Gerbert's, Escopioin, EVOS, Five Guys, Genki, Gigi's Cupcakes, Mellow Mushroom, Park's Edge, Pita's Republic, Rise Sushi, Southern Art, Sprig, STEEL, Swirlin Twirilin', Tanta, The Cup, TREZA, Truva, U.S. Cafe and Zuma Sushi. They have been on TNT Deathwatch since 2012 Q1. Really, you should date stamp your predictions so we can better judge your assessments.

Anonymous said...

Have you actually been in Canyons in Brookhaven on a weekday at lunch? Or on a weekend at lunch? They may not have a huge dinner crowd but they are packed at lunchtime.

I can't tell if you love Brookhaven or hate it but you sure pick on restaurants in Brookhaven a lot on here.

Anonymous said...

Bone Lick on Deathwatch, P'Cheen on the bubble. What about Vesuvius, then, especially with the access issue due to the streetcar construction?

Anonymous said...

Canyons actually serves up a really quality burger. Price point is good and they have some good beer specials. It might close in Brookhaven but only becauae they're just breaking even.... and not making huge margins.

Completely agree on HH Gregg.... no way that place survives there.

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed your now censoring the comments on this blog. You just lost a reader.

Anonymous said...

I work in Atlantic Station, and North American Properties came and gave out tickets to our office that offered two free drinks one afternoon. We found out later that North American was touring potential restaurant tenants around the development that afternoon, and wanted the sense of it being active.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree about Sprig. We didn't like it the first two times we went but now love it. We go about once a month. We love being able to get fresh, delicious food right in our neighborhood. Give it another try - you might find you like it.

Anonymous said...

Can you please elaborate further on Yard House at Atlantic Station? I've been there a few times and unless I'm oblivious to reality, business there seems to be doing quite well. So why would they pull out? Atlantic Station is far from a panacea, but it's certainly gotten a lot better in the time since the new ownership came in. There is a new 300 + unit apartment complex called Station 16 that is scheduled to be built over the next year adjacent to Atlantic Station on 16th Street. That can only help the retail in Atlantic Station.

Anonymous said...

Any idea if Von Maur is doing any better at Perimeter Mall than Bloomingdale's? I have yet to see it but don't want the mall to experience another anchor failure.

Anonymous said...

It's better but it is still ghetto at night.

Anonymous said...

Gosh if you ended up being right on all of these, Atlanta would be a sad, pathetic place in the world of retail.

Jimi Hog said...

Well, in last some days we found out later that North American was touring potential restaurant tenants around the development that afternoon, and in same time wanted the sense of it being active.

Webbeh said...

This really feels more like a laundry list of "places I don't like". I can't take this article seriously when I read "this restaurant has a dumb name".

Maybe some more effort and research would result in a better article, instead of what amounts to an opinion piece based on what you don't like about each restaurant.

Anonymous said...

The time North American gave us tickets for a happy hour, the happy hour was at Yard House. While our employees were there, North American brought around a group of prospective tenants past Yard House.

Anonymous said...

Time to put Seven Lamps on the list. Might as well add Gunshow before it even opens.

Grant, the Hipster Dad said...

I have to agree with several of the commenters above. While you've been right before, I do wish that you would acknowledge where you had been wrong to add places (such as Yeah! and Hd1) that have not met your predictions, and also acknowledge that some of your current predictions are taking an awfully long time to fail (such as Erbert & Gerbert's, whose continued operation truly is a surprise, but also the Real Chow Baby on Ponce, Mellow Mushroom on Ivan Allen, Der Biergarten, etc.)

I think that you're making positive steps toward acknowledging that these predictions can trouble your readers by now including dates. All right, then if Double Zero is still here come the summer, own up that you were incorrect. If Bone Lick is still serving in May 2014, write a post and admit that you were wrong. Don't bury it.

Put another way, and reflecting Webbeh's comment above, over the years, this list has felt increasingly less like news or strong rumor, and more like your personal bias, and, bluntly, the way that you are sweeping your errors under the rug and leaving them for commenters to note just magnifies that.

I remain a big fan of this blog and appreciate the work you do, but every quarter's Deathwatch leaves me more and more troubled. Please rethink the way you're doing this.

Unknown said...

Grant the Hipster, good critique of the Deathwatch.

When TNT has establishments on the Deathwatch for more than a year, you start thinking about the scene in Monty Python's Holy Grail ("I'm not dead"). It exposes wishful thinking for some of the entries and the reasoning often isn't changed/updated over time.

Timestamp your predictions, update the entries on new lists, segregate the list moving entries that have defied your prediction on to new lists such as miraculous recovery and walking dead.

Anonymous said...

Huge fan. 100% accuracy to the date is not what I have ever heard you claim on this blog. Nor do omissions constitute errors.

Anonymous said...

Do you feel a little foolish about the sprig comment with the news of a new location opening?

Anonymous said...

You're out of your mind on Double Zero. It's some of the best pizza in ATL and always packed. You seem to have a vendetta against certain places, like US Cafe and Erbert and Gerhart. Just because you keep predicting the demise of certan places doesn't mean it will happen.

Anonymous said...

Modern in Buckhead has closed.

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked you have Double Zero on here as well as your comments on the food. I have brought MANY people to DZ and no one has complained about the food and the service has usually been great. With a list that long you're bound to get some right.....also A LOT of misses.

Anonymous said...

P'cheen has been on the bubble for a year or more now. Have you driven by there recently, especially on the weekends? I'd say they are doing pretty well. You couldn't get near the place this past weekend.

Anonymous said...

Pizzeria Venti has announced today will be it for the Buckhead location.

Anonymous said...

Other comments are 'right on' about Sprig. I didn't care for it at first, but they are rocking in the kitchen now. We went recently on a Monday night, and the place was packed. It features farm fresh foods, that cater to different types, especially Gluten Free or Paleo diets.
The bar is one of the best stocked bars in town, with unique homemade drinks and juices.
Spring should be removed from the list.

Atlantan99 said...

Thank you all for your comments. Mistakes were made and changes are coming. Thank you for your continued readership.

Anonymous said...

I think the folks at Sprig are opening a place in, I think, Lilburn. Seems like they must be confident.

Anonymous said...

You were right on re Pizzeria Venti. I lived in Buckhead for three years (Chicago now) and would have gone to PV all the time if I knew about it. I happened upon it when visiting a couple of months ago (was in that shopping center for something else) and immediately thought they need to do so marketing to let people know they exist.

Also, threw a private party at 3 Sheets and they were horrible to deal with - completely unprofessional.

Anonymous said...

You clearly have not been to double zero recently. It is packed almost every night.

Anonymous said...

The Cup appears to be closed. A sign on the window says closed indefinitely.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I know we're not supposed to delight in someone's failures, but Double Zero deserves to go away. Their food is okay, but God help you if you have a problem. That manager Stephanie will look you squarein the face and lie. She will never get another dime from me, which is a real shame. I loved The Iberian Pig. I know they've been on the list for a while. I just wish they would hurry up and fail already!

Anonymous said...

Von Maur is actually right on track for where it needs to be at this point in a new market in order to succeed. As more people start shopping there, their client base will only continue to grow, they offer exceptional products for anyone at any price point!