Sunday, January 3, 2016

As Piccadilly Cafeteria's Presence Shrinks, CHOA Plans to Grow

Cafeteria to shutter.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Piccadilly Cafeteria will close its location on North Druid Hills Road today. The restaurant, which has been a neighborhood landmark for decades, has, like the rest of the chain, suffered from declining sales for some time.  Americans' tastes have changed from the popular homestyle cafeterias of yesteryear to healthier and faster options. 

The Piccadilly on North Druid Hills was first opened as a Morrison's Cafeteria, a similar restaurant, in the mid 60s. Piccadilly bought Morrison's in 1998, greatly expanding its presence in metro Atlanta and around the southeast.  (The North Druid Hills location is one of the oldest converted Morrison's in metro Atlanta.)

An employee at the restaurant indicated that Children's Health Care of Atlanta (CHOA) plans to include the Piccadilly parcel into their upcoming campus expansion.   

Further research into DeKalb county property records reflects that the Piccadilly property was sold to CHOA February 26th, 2014.  Additionally, the adjacent church, First Metropolitan Community Church of Atlanta, sold their property to CHOA July 17th, 2015.  (The chuch is currently renovating their future home nearby at 1934 Cliff Valley Way.) 

Signage on the restaurant's front door invites patrons to visit the chain's other area locations including one off Northlake Parkway behind Target and another on Howell Mill Road in the Kroger anchored Howell Mill Square shopping center.  


Piccadilly's closure on North Druid Hills is only the latest in a series of closures for the struggling casual buffet eatery. Piccadilly previously closed its location on Piedmont Avenue at Ansley Mall in 2009, and on North Decatur Road at Suburban Plaza in 2012.  


Piccadilly has also closed locations on Peachtree (Industrial) Boulevard in Chamblee, on Atlanta Highway at Georgia Square Mall in Athens, and on Memorial Drive in Stone Mountain.  Many other locations have closed in years past.  

Piccadilly first opened in Baton Rouge in 1944 and while once a dominant restaurant operator across the southeast, has today dwindled to about 50 locations in seven states. 

Will you miss Piccadilly on North Druid Hills?  Where is your favorite place for "home cooking" in metro Atlanta?  (When in the mood, I like Matthews Cafeteria on Main Street in Tucker.)  Are you pleased with the planned redevelopment of the property? 

Please share your thoughts below.  

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Really miss the cafeteria concepts here in Atlanta. Maybe its the ATL market. NC based K&W seems to do well there and parts of SC. Their locations seem to be well placed.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I love the S&S Cafeteria at Embry Village Shopping Center on Chamblee-Tucker Road. It has the best food and the best employees and is reminiscent of cafeterias when they were at their peak of popularity.

Ham said...

I’ll miss the North Druid Hills location I had a lot of decent meals there while out running errands in the area. I also miss the location which closed at Lenox Square several years back. I’m not sure the location at North Lake is doing much better, but the local office crowd and the nearby Police/Fire HQ probably keeps them going. The S&S Cafeteria at Embry Hills seems to do pretty well, but I probably only stop by about once every six weeks.

The cafeteria concept has obviously lost much of the appeal it once had. I understand it’s not the greatest culinary experience, but I generally found these places generally offered a quick decent affordable lunch. Yes, the growth of the quick-casual restaurant sector and maybe some hippster attitudes about cafeterias has hurt. However, continued increase in operating cost and the idea of preparing all that food for people that “might” show up have got to mean pretty thin margins.

HotlantaHobo said...

Piccadilly is overpriced and not able to compete with the all-you-can-eat buffets like Golden Corral. Apparently their management is senile from a modern marketing point of view. If they converted to the Las Vegas style buffets with cooked-to-order stations they have a future. They could even use some of their other brands like Ralph and Kacoos and have seafood offerings in the buffet. If they simply took a trip to any German department store they could see what a modern cafeteria should look like. Piccadilly is asleep at the wheel.

There is a market for cafeterias but they need to update their offerings. It's still 1938 in there but the prices for that sort of food are way out of line. Last (and the final time) I was there it was $11 for a pitiful hamburger steak with the vegs and a dessert. Only invalids would eagerly eat that. If their management is perplexed then they need to get outside help.

That said, in this market the real estate is easily worth more than the business. I was told by a Ryan's spokesperson that was the reason they left this market.

DEE said...

Let's be honest, GOLDEN CORRAL has taken over the buffet style business. Restaurants like Shoney's, Quincy's, Western Sizzlin, Old Country Buffet, Ryan's, K&W, S&S and Picadilly cannot compete! As one that likes to eat out, Golden Corral has more to offer price and food wise along with modern, up to date stylish locations.

Anonymous said...

Well they should all close. I took my Mother(from nurseing home) to one in Conyers Ga and we both ended up sick for 2 weeks . NEVER AGAIN GO THERE

Anonymous said...

I've never been a fan of cafeteria/buffet style dining. It just feels like animals coming to the feed trough to me. But having grown up right around the corner from this location, and having parents born in the 30s, I had many meals here during my childhood. I also remember coming here with my grandmother in the 70s. The line would often wind around the corner all the way to the front door.

I think the cafeteria generation is simply dying off. Golden Corral is not really the same as one is a cafeteria style meal and one is an all-you-can-eat free for all. I wonder about the quality of food GC must serve to earn a profit on the volume of food some people eat at a low price.

Anonymous said...

NDH Morrison's is where we'd get our Thanksgiving turkey's every year while growing up. But I haven't eaten there in about 35+ years.

We did eat at S&S when we lived closer to it. We prefer it over AYCE places because you're not encouraged to eat non-stop. The food is solid (although the squash souffle is a salt-lick), but it is kind of retro and relaxed, great price for families (kids eat for very cheap with each adult meal).

It's a shame that cafeterias are a piece of classic southern Americana that seem to be dying out as people have become increasingly convinced that they should instead by $15-20 for a single hamburger or something similar served to them by the chefs hyped up in local media.

~mindspringyahoo

Anonymous said...

@DEE Golden Corral and their clientele are disturbing. No different than watching pigs eating slop in a trough. All you can eat "food" bars are grotesque.

Ham said...

I agree comparing all-you-can-eat to a cafeteria style restaurant isn’t really the same. Whenever I ate at cafeterias the service and food was generally at or above expectations. The other patrons were generally quite, polite and sanitary. Flash forward to the time I met some family for dinner at the aptly named Golden Corral. I saw rude employees, cheap institutional style food and the behavior of many of the other patrons was almost unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, sorry about that apostrophe 'turkey's' and I meant, 'pay $15-20'...

I do recall eating with my family at Farmer John's AYCE (later became Showcase Photography) on Cheshire Bridge around 1980 or so and really enjoying it, but the ole' metabolism can't handle that kind of thing any more.

Cafeterias, which have a nice orderly line and food that is dished out by courteous and gloved employees, really should not be compared to AYCE places.

Now I'm getting kind of hungry for one of those fried sweet potato ball things at S&S...

~mindspringyahoo

Anonymous said...

The hubris in the comments is pretty amazing. If you don't like cafeterias, don't go. But basically calling the customers swine? Get over yourself.

Jan said...

I will miss the Piccadilly on North Druid Hills a lot. They offered a nice variety of quality food and the staff was helpful and courteous. I would often call and pick up a grilled fish and a couple of veggies for $10 and it was delicious. Not sure where to get that now and at that price. I will miss them and wish good luck to all of the employees now looking for work.

James said...

When I lived in Midtown, my wife and I would frequent the Piccadilly's on Howell Mill a few times a year. I liked their selection (desserts were great), but it did feel like walking through a time machine. The look and feel of Piccadilly's reminded me of going to Bonanza and Ponderosa as a child back in the early 80s. And the workers, while friendly and hard-working, always had that "I wish I were anywhere but here" look on them.

I seem to recall Piccadilly's trying to win over customers with an infomercial about a decade ago. Talked about the food, what to expect when you go there, and comments from customers. It was a little out of left field, but it was actually a good way to introduce me (who just moved to Georgia) about the chain.

The "all-you-can-eat" model works depending on the clientele you want to reach. Golden Corral does a great job marketing its product, but it also has the reputation of "every man for him/herself". When it comes to buffet food, many customers take the concept of "all you can eat" literally and figuratively. :) There's also a question about the quality of the buffet food.

Anonymous said...

The one on Howell Mill Rd is terrible. And if the Kroger S/C it's in ever does a reno to catch up with the rest of the area, I can see it being priced out of the area as well.

Anonymous said...

Piggadilly's is deliteful! Theres a bunch of stuff for evryone. Dilly plate with tha fishs. So yummi!! And tha creme pie is warm and gooee and scrummy!!

Anonymous said...

"The hubris in the comments is pretty amazing. If you don't like cafeterias, don't go. But basically calling the customers swine? Get over yourself."

The swine go to all you can eat buffets, not cafeterias. Get over YOURself ... learn to read, comprehend, and learn the difference between the concepts. Or you can continue bellying up to the Golden Corral trough and getting your feelings hurt when the majority accurately describe YOUR favorite "restaurant".

ImAndy said...

You cannot in your right mind compare Picadilly's to Golden Corral. While Picadillys is not a textbook example of culinary greatness it was edible and generally a quality lunch albeit for the price you could get better elsewhere. Compared to Golden Coral where you're eating popcorn shrimp grown as some sort of science experiment that is still 90% breading and some variation of powdered gravy and meatloaf made of pink slime. I'd like to know if any real cheese exists in the macaroni and cheese or if its just cheese flavoring and milk.

The cookies and ice cream are generally the highlight of the experience. I need to poop just typing this. I hope we can say poop on this blog...

Disneypal said...

It is sad to see a long standing place like Picadilly on N. Druid Hills go. I remember when it was Morrison's, then Picadilly and have been going there a long time since I've worked in the area for over 20+ years. Thank goodness I still have S & S Cafeteria on Chamblee Tucker Rd and as far as I know, the Picadilly near Northlake is still open.

First MCC (the church mentioned) has since sold the property on Cliff Valley Way and are now planning to purchase a building in Chamblee on Presidential Pkwy.

Susan Northcutt said...

This Thanksgiving, we had family emergencies, schedule conflicts, and holiday fatigue. My son called a couple of days before T'Day & said, "We're going to Piccadilly for Thanksgiving!!" And we did. We went to the one near Northlake. It was full of families sitting around talking, laughing, sharing, and eating. A good memory.