Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ocean Prime Goes Under in Buckhead

Buckhead steakhouse prepares to close  
Ocean Prime on Piedmont Road in Buckhead will  close later this month.  Ocean Prime, a creation of Columbus,Ohio-based Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, opened in Buckhead in 2011. 

The freestanding restaurant building at 3102 Piedmont Road is currently listed for sale by The Cheroff Group . The asking price? $4.93 million.  The "Investment Summary" indicates the building dates from 1969 and was renovated in 1997 and 2011.  Ocean Prime opened in the 9,706 square foot space in 2011, replacing longtime favorite, Sambuca, a jazz café and lounge.  

The listing indicates that the restaurant was paying $320,298 in annual rent with a fifth year renewal option set to come up July 15, 2016.  

An "Early Termination" clause indicates that  "Tenant shall have the right to terminate this Lease on one hundred eighty (180) days notice to Landlord on the following terms." All the terms seem to indicate that it would behoove the restaurant to give at least 180 days notice to the landlord ahead of their planned closure.  As I was just informed of the closure this week and with the closure currently scheduled for after dinner service on September 12th,  it's unclear (to me) which terms are applicable in this situation.  

I have heard for over a year that the restaurant was in trouble but got official confirmation earlier today that the restaurant was indeed closing.  Online reservation platform OpenTable has plenty of tables available for the restaurant until the evening of September 12th. 

I never like to see restaurants fail, but Ocean Prime was about as vanilla as you can be for a "modern steakhouse." The food was good, not amazing.  The lighting was cool, not out of this world.  With established favorites like Hal's, Bone's and Chop's, Ocean Prime faced an uphill battle from day one.  If there is one thing Buckhead does not need, it's another "basic" steakhouse.

Ocean Prime follows in the footsteps of other out-out-state restaurants such as craft, Emeril's, AquaKnox, Don Antonio by Starita that have closed in Buckhead in the recent past.  

Following the closure of the Buckhead location, Ocean Prime will operate ten locations throughout the country.  New locations are slated to open in New York City in October and in Boston in November.   with an eleventh planned for New York City next summer.  

I'm not aware of any interested parties thus far, but at nearly 10,000 square feet and almost $5 million, I'm sure the list will be short.  

While Buckhead is basically without any good Chinese or Mexican restaurants, I doubt a restaurant featuring one of these cuisines would / could afford to open in the space.

What would you like to see happen to the Ocean Prime building?  Should it be redeveloped?  Should Sambuca reopen?  Does Buckhead need just a few more apartments / condos? Maybe a Mattress Firm Superstore?  

Please share your thoughts below. 


Anonymous said...

Dean & Deluca!

nsk said...

The mix of businesses on this stretch of Piedmont between Peachtree and Pharr is unbelievably awkward. There's a Jag/LR/Rolls dealership, a Krystal, Bones, a tire store, the remains of a Jeep dealership, a Mexican dive bar, at least two mattress stores, Fogo, Kyma, Buckhead Diner, that seedy hookah place, the Havana club that apparently draws reality-TV types, a suite hotel, and then those perpendicular low-rise strip malls with hair restoration / massage / chiropractic clinics.

I'm not surprised Ocean Prime is closing, and I agree that there was nothing compelling about this restaurant compared to other Buckhead spots.

ImAndy said...

I'd like to hear your definition of "good" Mexican food. lol Uncle Julios is at least that big or bigger and always packed but again I'm not on the level of "foodie" as you I guess I don't know what "good" Mexican is. Its hard to get blown away by Mexican food (no pun intended)

Anonymous said...

How about Ford Fry?

Anonymous said...

Never felt the urge to patronize Ocean Prime Buckhead, mainly because I was never wowed by dining at Mitchell's Ocean Club Easton while living in Columbus. Cameron Mitchell has about a dozen concepts that do very well in key locations around greater Columbus.

Agree with nsk about that stretch of Piedmont being very weird nowadays. Expensive real estate for such an awkward area.

Atlantan99 said...


Thanks for your comments and readership. Allow me to clarify my comments. When I said Buckhead area, I meant the central Buckhead community. I think Uncle Julio's does do a good job but is too far south, "south Buckhead" on the edge of midtown to be convenient or an option for those around Lenox / Phipps. The Mexican fare in that area is basically On The Border, Moe's or Chipotle.

Sorry for the confusion but thank you for you readership.

Anonymous said...

As a Buckhead resident, here are several Mexican places I like:

Tin Lizzy
La Fonda (2 locations)
Superica (coming soon)
Tacos & Tequilas

Anonymous said...

Julio's is a little bit over rated to me they're very much like McDonald's and Chef Boyardee combined and their service reminds me of Boston chicken, no kidding. The only concept they really have that is interesting is their fajitas however the execution of that concept is completely inconsistent and lacking. Especially the perimeter location I always feel like I'm at barberitos.

Anonymous said...

Ocean Prime was hitting its peak in year 4- I believe the closing was ethnicity related. Management reported having its best year so far and then they announced closing. The Cameron Mitchell co has never been impressed by the preponderance of a heavily slanted ethnic crowd