Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What's in a Name? J. Alexander's Plans to Re-brand Multiple Units

An out of state J. Alexander's location 
Casual chain flipping Norcross location

Nashville, Tennessee-based J. Alexander's will soon convert their existing restaurant in Norcross to Redlands Grill. Already referred to both by phone and on the website as  "J. Alexander's - Redlands Grill," the restaurant is due to drop the J. Alexander's moniker entirely in the coming months.  

In addition to their planned conversion in Norcross, J. Alexander's plans to re-brand as many as fifteen of their 29 locations nationwide by the end of the year. According to the J.Alexander's website, locations in Birmingham, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Memphis, and Nashville-West End are to be converted to Redlands Grill.

According to a J. Alexander's employee, the changes thus far have been small, with minor tweaks to the menu and interior signage.  Plans call for Redlands Grill to be more feature driven, getting away from the static menu that made J.Alexander's what it is.  Some classic dishes will remain, but the new menu will emphasize " farm-to-table ingredients" and feature seasonal menu selections that are likely to vary by region.  

Maryville, Tennessee-based Ruby Tuesday tried to do something similar when they converted some of their existing locations to Marlin & Ray's, a casual seafood restaurant or to Truffles Grill, an upscale American eatery.  In both cases, the conversions fell short of expectations and the restaurants are now closed.  In Buckhead, the former Ruby Tuesday (Truffles Cafe / Grill) became Katana, a Japanese eatery.  

According to the J. Alexander's website, the chain operates two locations in metro Atlanta: Dunwoody and Norcross.  The Dunwoody unit is referred to simply as "J. Alexander's,"  and so it seems is safe from conversion, for now.  

In addition to the current count of 29 J. Alexander's, the company also operates ten Stoney River Steakhouse & Grill restaurants (fka Stoney River Legendary Steaks).  There are three Stoney River restaurants in metro Atlanta: in Smyrna at Cumberland Mall, in Duluth at the corner of State Bridge Road and GA 141, and in Roswell at the corner of Alpharetta Highway and Highway 92.  There are no immediate plans to convert any of the Stoney River restaurants.  

Last fall, the company filed plans to re-enter the public markets and have an IPO, but they abandoned those plans late last month.  Company CFO Mark Parkey said of the decision, “The company has determined not to pursue the initial public offering because terms currently obtainable in the public marketplace are not sufficiently attractive to the company.”

Beverly Hills-based Houston's, seen as by many as a chief rival to J. Alexander's, performed an interesting internal conversion of their own.  The Buckhead (Peachtree Road) location of Houston's was quietly re-named "Hillstone" over  two years ago.  The move, naming the restaurant after its parent, Hillstone Restaurant Group, has not significantly affected the menu or pricing.  

7 comments:

Lisa said...

Interesting. I grew up eating at the original Houston's in Nashville. Haven't eaten at one in years (nor J. Alexander's which is a clone). The Hillstone website still lists the Peachtree location as branded Houston's, not Hillstone.

Anonymous said...

You've been saying that about the Houston's on Peachtree Rd for awhile now. It's always been and continues to be branded as Houston's. The change you mentioned never occurred.

Anonymous said...

I find it hard for a chain restaurant to be farm to table.......that will not go over well especially in the birmingham metro where one of the fathers of the movement owns snd runs one of the best farm to table restaurants in the country (highlands bar and grill) and he has inspired many of his former employees in the birmingham mnarket do recourse locally.....won't work in a city that has a huge locally owned locally sourced restaurant scene that is booming..... Not to mention j Alexander's is in an outlying suburban mall parking lot

Anonymous said...

My family and I have been eating at J Alexander's for years. We are dismayed to learn that it's becoming Redlands Grill. Definitely sounds like a downgrade. Don't mess with a good thing.

Arnold Darsey said...

Big mistake. One of our favorite well run restaurants in Atlanta. This name change will come back to haunt them.

Anonymous said...

One of the best operated,well trained servers in all of Atlanta. If sales are down, I would first take a close look at servers although maybe few, that could be running off customers.

Arnold Darsey said...

Big mistake. One of our favorite well run restaurants in Atlanta. This name change will come back to haunt them.