Pizza place calls it quits
New York-based Don Antonio by Starita has closed its Atlanta restaurant. The Neapolitan-style pizzeria opened in early January 2014, and closed earlier this week. Don Antonio opened in place of STG Trattoria, a local pizzeria owned by Brian Lewis of Bocado. (Lewis reportedly retained a minority stake in the new business.)
While no formal announcement was made regarding the closure, the restaurant's Yelp page has been updated to reflect "closed." I visited the restaurant this week, and aside from a handwritten "CLOSE" on a sign outside, the restaurant appears to have been left untouched, suggesting a sudden and possibly unplanned exit.
While I found the food good and the service attentive, Don Antonio suffered from the same terrible location as its predecessor. While the restaurant featured a cute outdoor patio and was located in the same center as Flywheel and had the St. Regis as its neighbor, its secret location, without any visibility from West Paces Ferry Road, was an issue too large to overcome.
While diners might travel from Buckhead to Home Park just to go to Antico Pizza Napoletana, the fact that Don Antonio was not "local" made it less likely people that would seek it out, IMHO. Overall, Atlanta has witnessed countless notable and successful restaurants come from other major cities only to fail in Atlanta.
Tom Colicchio brought both his craft and craftbar concepts to Atlanta but closed them about a year after opening. Aquaknox, a Las Vegas-based seafood eatery, opened and closed in short order at Terminus in Buckhead, leading me to write one of the more interesting posts in this blog's history. Wolfgang Puck pulled his Wolfgang Puck Express concept from Atlanta, as did Emeril and his Emeril's restaurant in Buckhead.
The one exception I see to these struggles is in the quick serve / fast food segment of the food industry. Del Taco, Cook-Out, Bojangles' and Shake Shack have all performed especially well in their debuts, or in the case of Del Taco, their return to Atlanta. Both Del Taco and Shake Shack have reportedly set company sales records following their recent openings in metro Atlanta.
Why do you think Don Antonio failed in their foray into the Atlanta market? Who do you think makes the best Neapolitan pizza in Atlanta? What should replace Don Antonio? Should it be something other than a foodservice establishment?
Please share your thoughts below.