Atlanta-based Buckhead Life Restaurant Group has made the (predictable) decision to close its lone midtown eatery, Veni Vidi Vici. I say predictable, because the restaurant was the only full service restaurant in the group absent from their annual "Summer Dine Around" promotion. The Dine Around promotion begins next month, and the gift cards for the program arrived last week (obviously having been printed weeks earlier) but without Veni Vidi Vici as a an option.
Veni Vidi Vici, which means "I came; I saw; I conquered" in Latin, is located at the corner of 14th and Spring Streets, and originally opened in 1990. At the time of its opening, the nearly 8000 square foot restaurant was part of a Dallas, Texas-based restaurant group that counted noted Italian chef Marcella Hazan as an investor.
With mounting debt related to back rent, the restaurant closed in January 1993. At the time, Buckhead Life came forward to take over the 226 seat restaurant. Originally slated to be called "Bella Luna," Buckhead Life instead opted to retain the Veni Vidi Vici moniker when they reopened the eatery in March of 1993. Pricci, which Buckhead Life opened in 1991, originally competed with Veni Vidi Vici, and was now a sibling concept within the same family.
It has always seemed odd for BLRG to operate a single midtown restaurant when their name is "Buckhead," and their greatest concentration of restaurants is in Buckhead. Industry sources indicate the closure has been discussed for months, if not years, as the group concentrates on its Buckhead and south Florida restaurants.
A BLRG representative indicated that all employees of Veni Vidi Vici are being offering positions at the group's other Atlanta area restaurants.
BLRG previously closed their Asian eatery Bluepointe in Buckhead in late 2011. The following year, the group closed their popular southwestern restaurant, Nava, also in Buckhead. Chef Ford Fry subsequently opened King + Duke in the former Nava in 2013 and St. Cecilia in the former Bluepointe space in 2014. As if Fry does not have already enough on his plate, might he make a play at the soon to be vacant Veni Vidi Vici?
Buckhead Life continues to operate its Buckhead restaurants: Atlanta Fish Market, Chops Lobster Bar, Bistro Niko, Buckhead Bread Co. & Corner Cafe, Kyma, Pricci, Buckhead Diner and 103 West, originally a restaurant that today serves as a private dining facility. The group also operates mini versions of its Buckhead Diner, Nava, Pricci and Chops restaurants at Philips Arena in partnership with Levy Restaurants.
Buckhead Life entered south Florida in 2007 with the opening of a Chops Lobster Bar in Boca Raton. The group added City Fish Market to Boca Raton the following year. In 2013, the group opened their first "new" concept in Lobster Bar Sea Grille, a more casual version of the popular Chops Lobster Bar concept.
A restaurant spokesperson told me the group is actively looking for new locations of both their City Fish Market and Lobster Bar Sea Grille restaurants in metro Atlanta. No leases are signed but I'd guess that the new mixed-use development around SunTrust Park in Cobb county could be a prospect for at least one of the restaurants. Chops Lobster Bar could also see additional locations, possibly in both Georgia and Florida.
What is your favorite Buckhead Life restaurant? Are you still holding your breath for some version of Pano's & Paul's to reopen? Do you think Ford Fry should take over the Veni Vidi Vici space?
Please share your thoughts below.