Monday, January 27, 2014

Bits & Bites


La Boulange baked goods  are due to be available in Atlanta area Starbucks locations as of February 4th.  The  San Francisco bakery and cafĂ© was purchased by Starbucks last year, with the plan to integrate their baked goods into Starbucks locations.  Among the La Boulange items that will be available in local Starbucks are classic croissants, savory squares (tomato & cheese, wheat spinach, ham & cheese), loaf cakes (banana pecan walnut, classic coffee cake, chocolate marble) and assorted muffins, scones, and cookies. Starbucks favorites like breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal, sandwiches, salads, bistro boxes and the all-important cake pops will continue to be available.  

Lots more after the jump...

KFC has closed on Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.  The freestanding restaurant is located next to McDonald's and about a block up from Hammond Drive.  As I reported earlier this month, Athens-based Zaxby's is planning a new location slightly north of the now shuttered KFC.  I'd say this KFC site could be useful for a growing fast food chain, but sources say the site is being marketed exclusively for a short term lease, making it less appealing to most.  

Sakana Sushi And Grill has opened in the former Sushi House at 2221 Peachtree Road in south Buckhead.

Columbus, Ohio-based Big Lots is due to open a Duluth location soon.  The new store will open at 3900 Venture Drive, adjacent to American Signature Furniture.  Big Lots will occupy a space most recently occupied by Ben's (Ben's relocated to the listed-for-closure Target/Kohl's center across the street).  As I mentioned earlier this month, a pseudo-competitor to Big Lots, Ollie's Bargain Outlet, will also open nearby next month.   

Festivity has closed its Virginia Highland location.  The women's clothing and gift boutique still has metro locations in Buckhead, Peachtree Battle and the Forum in addition to a pair of locations in Nashville, and single locations in Birmingham and Columbia, South Carolina.  In Virginia Highland, Festivity's neighbor, Honey Butter, another women's boutique, closed this past November. (Honey Butter opened a new location in Roswell at about the same time they closed in VaHi.)   Neighboring watering hole and VaHi-mainstay, Cavern, closed earlier this month with its space was  already taken over by neighboring Moe's & Joe's.   Another Virginia Highland boutique, Mitzi & Romano, closed last year after over 25 years in business.

Sprinkles Cupcakes has opened its highly anticipated but heavily delayed location at Lenox Square.  Sprinkles at Lenox marks the chain's entry into Georgia and is the furthest south the Beverly Hills-based chain has ventured.  I spoke to Sprinkles founder Candace Nelson at an opening event, and she confirmed that rumors of doughnuts and chocolate bars are true, but she shied away from disclosing a launch date for either.  Judging from our brief conversation, I'd say that chocolate bars are far closer to launching, possibly as soon as this spring, whereas doughnuts are seemingly a ways away.  The Lenox store is the first Sprinkles to open with cookies, ice cream, cupcakes and the uber popular Cupcake ATM all in one space.  The Sprinkles space is about 3,400 square feet and is located at the front of Lenox Square, opposite the new Nike store and adjacent to the upcoming Zinburger restaurant.  

Dtox has added a second Buckhead location, a space between Drybar and Flywheel on West Paces Ferry Road. The existing Dtox buckhead is tucked behind a small center on Roswell Road, and is hard to find and not very parking friendly.  Sources say there are no immediate plans to consolidate the two locations, but clearly the new location provides more visibility but at the same time, likely much higher rent.

Johnny's Pizza has closed its Smyrna location on Cumberland Boulevard. The Atlanta-based pizza franchise has over about 50 locations in Georgia, and is today in a total of eight states.

I'm not one to share health scores as in many cases the inspections do not accurately reflect the kitchen conditions, but a recent score at the new Cheesecake Factory at the Mall of Georgia screamed to be mentioned.  This past August, I reported that the popular chain restaurant would open a new location at the Mall of Georgia.  The restaurant opened December 10th, and based on my visit a few weeks ago, has been doing a brisk business.  

A health inspection was performed this past Wednesday, January 22nd, at which point the inspector gave the restaurant a failing "50/U" and noted the following: 

•  Employees who “changed gloves while working with food and did not wash hands in between glove changes”  

•  “Clean pans that had old food debris stuck to them, slicer blades had old food debris, dicer had old food debris on it” 

 • A number of violations involving raw meats improperly stored above other foods  

• “Multiple soups and sauces” and “several deep containers full of food items” not cooling properly  

• An employee with “long fingernails preparing food at wait station”  

• “Multiple employees … wearing bracelets and watches while preparing food”  

• Servers “preparing and cutting bread” without “restrained hair”

This infractions seem rather appalling for such a new location of a well known chain.  

According to protocol, a follow-up inspection will occur within 10 days of Wednesday’s visit. The Mall of Georgia Cheesecake Factory location scored a perfect 100 on an inspection on November 25th, more than two weeks before serving a single paying customer.

7 comments:

Carl said...

The two times I was at SBUX locations in CA recently, I wasn't eating gluten, so I only observed but didn't experience the La Boulange items. I must admit they appeared fairly unexceptional in the pastry case, but I do believe they'll be a step above the items SBUX now features that (in a blind taste test) one may guess instead came from Sam's Club. After 31 days of free mediocre-to-bad espresso beverages this month, though, it'll be awhile before I'm eager to return to SBUX for any reason.

Anonymous said...

Blogger- help me understand something please. I'm really fascinated why established chains like KFC and Johnny's Pizza close. Is this a function of these specific locations not making profit? I don't understand how a KFC wouldn't make money.

Also - what do you attribute Virginia Highland's recent failures to?

Ugh the robot thing below is really annoying and hard to read.

Anonymous said...

sbux barista here! Actually the only cake pops will be the birthday cake pop and then whatever seasonal ones there might be. Additionally, for the first month we will still have the current lemon loaf, pumpkin bread, and banana bread before switching to the LB ones.

Anonymous said...

blog owner - do you have any perspective on my questions above?

Anonymous said...

Regarding "Honey Butter" and "Festivity" closing in VAHI, one might notice that very few bars/restaurants close down in that area (except "Cavern", which was absorbed by Moe's & Joe's). These boutiques, however, have been flipping and changing pretty rapidly.

VAHI is appropriate for these female-only cutey-pie stores. But it can only support so many of them. By my count, there are still 4 very close by.

Because these two spaces are next to each other, it really presents an opportunity for a retailer with a good idea that requires more square footage.

A digression:
Park Atlanta, being the total pricks that they are, have certainly made things hard for the retailers. I wonder if this will result in lower rents ---> lower real estate valuation ---> lower property taxes ---> less tax revenue. If it does, then this whole, dumb Park Atlanta experiment really has no winners.

Maybe this will translate into lower rents. And, perhaps, lower real estate valuation. This could result in lower property taxes

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon RE: KFC,

Sorry for the delayed response.

I'm unsure whether the KFC was in fact not meeting the financial needs of the owner but can you there are plans to redevelop that entire parcel along with adjacent parcels and go vertical with a Bank of America project. In some case, certain franchised food establishments with struggle and perhaps close when changes in surrounding demographics make their business either unappealing or obsolete.

I hope this helps.

Thanks for your questions and readership.

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon RE: KFC,

Sorry for the delayed response.

I'm unsure whether the KFC was in fact not meeting the financial needs of the owner but can you there are plans to redevelop that entire parcel along with adjacent parcels and go vertical with a Bank of America project. In some case, certain franchised food establishments with struggle and perhaps close when changes in surrounding demographics make their business either unappealing or obsolete.

I hope this helps.

Thanks for your questions and readership.