Nashville, Tennessee-based Shoney's will open a new location in Sugarloaf Mills.
Shoney's On The Go will replace Chili's Too, which had been in the mall since it opened (as Discover Mills) in late 2001. I reported this past January that Chili's Too, along with a number of other eateries in the mall, would close. Soon after, most did, including Popeyes, Burger King and Great Steak & Potato. Those eateries recently reopened as Villa Italian Kitchen, South Philly Steaks & Fries, Green Leaf's and Bananas.
Chili's Too stayed open long into the summer but closed this past week.
Shoney's, which as a stand alone brand dates from 1954, once had close to a hundred locations in Georgia. Today the chain has but 11 in the Peach State.
Shoney's was started by Alex Schoenbaum in 1954. An earlier incarnation of the restaurant started in 1947 when Alex “Shoney” Schoenbaum opened the Parkette Drive-In next to his father’s bowling alley in Charleston, West Virginia. Schoenbaum became a Big Boy franchisee in 1952, now calling his several locations the Parkette Big Boy Shoppes. After a public contest to rename his restaurants, Schoenbaum's now five locations were officially renamed Shoney's and the brand was born.
At its peak in 1998, there were over 1,300 operated or franchised restaurants in 34 states. As of early 2011, there were approximately 230 company-owned and franchised Shoney’s restaurants in 18 states. According to its website, today the chain consists of 142 locations in 17 states, its strongest market being Tennessee, where it has 50 locations.
In late 2011, a new Shoney's "On The Go" opened in place of a shuttered Back Yard Burgers in Buford near Lake Lanier. To my knowledge, that was one of the first "new" Shoney's in Atlanta in many years.
As a child I ate at Shoney's locations in Buckhead on Piedmont Road and near North Dekalb Mall on Lawrenceville Highway. The Piedmont location remains standing to this day but has been vacant for over a decade. (Sources say the property's owner hopes to erect an office building on the land.) The Lawrenceville Highway location later turned into an Indian restaurant, which a few years ago burned down. Today the site sits vacant.
Schoenbaum also opened a chain of Shoney's Inn motels in 1975 that had a presence in the Atlanta area in Norcross and in Jonesboro as well as a handful of other locations. The motel chain was sold in 1991 and by 2006 all had either closed or been rebranded.
Shoney's, Houlihan's, Bennigan's, T.G.I. Friday's and Ruby Tuesday, among others have all had trouble staying relevant in today's dining world. While these five restaurant chains were popular in the 70s and 80s, all have struggled to compete with newer, more modern options.
Atlanta entrepreneur David Davoudpour purchased Shoney's in 2007 with the promise of returning the chain to its "glory days." Davoudpour has quick serve restaurant experience as his Royal Capital Corporation is the largest franchisee of Church's Chicken restaurants.
In 2011, Davoudpour hired Will Eudy who reportedly was previously Executive Chef at The Capital Grille. (Eudy is featured in a number of commercials for the restaurant, one in particular which is found on the restaurant's homepage shows a reenactment of his "kidnapping" from his "fine dining" employer.)
The new Shoney's at Sugarloaf Mills will be branded an "On The Go" location, like the nearby Buford location. Launched last year in Houston, Texas, Shoney's On The Go is a smaller scale Shoney's that aims to be a "fast casual" option for today's busy families.
As of now, plans call for the location in Sugarloaf Mills to open in mid November.
What are your thoughts on Shoney's opening in Sugarloaf Mills? Will Shoney's find success in the suburban outlet mall? Have you been to a new or renovated Shoney's? What were your thoughts? Please share your thoughts below.