Atlanta-based Willy's Mexicana Grill will open at The Village at Druid Hills. Willy's swooped in to take space (not yet built) that was earmarked for Zoës Kitchen prior to their pullout (Zoës opted out of this project in favor of opening in the former Cheers liquor store at nearby Loehmann's Plaza.)
Willy's will join current planned tenants Newk's Cafe, Sport Clips, a nail salon and Sprint. A separate stand alone building on the Briarcliff side of the project will house Mattress Firm. According to Columbia Properties, the project's developer, there are as many as seven unleased spaces up for grabs, each around 1,400 square feet. Personally, I think they may have divided the project into too many pieces considering the parking limitations the lunch establishments may find that they have.
Newk's Eatery, started by the founding members of McAlister's Deli, will likely compete most directly with Panera Bread, located in Loehmann's Plaza. Willy's will take on Moe's Southwest Grill, also in Loehmann's Plaza. The Loehmann's Plaza Moe's was one of the first franchised locations of the now nearly 500 unit chain.
I spoke with Willy Bitter, Willy's founder yesterday, and confirmed that the very delayed Cherokee Plaza location is finally on track and if all goes well, should be open by mid-to-late October. The Village at Druid Hills location would follow, likely opening in late February or early March. Willy's recently added a new location at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport concourse B, marking its 22nd store open.
Personally, I've grown out of Moe's and am a full fledged Willy's believer. What about you, who rolls the best burrito in your opinion? Will Zoës regret leaving this new center or will Willy's face an unbeatable burrito battle with established neighborhood Moes? Who else should open in this new center?