Friday, June 10, 2016

Varasano's Pizzeria Folds at Perimeter Mall

Pizzeria calls it quits after short stay at suburban mall.
Varasano's Pizzeria, the Atlanta-based pizza shop from Jeff Varasano, has closed its location at Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody.  The restaurant, which opened just this past October, was located at the front of the mall between Urban Outfitters and The Pub.

The restaurant, which was first announced in the summer of 2014,  was then said to be on track to open by the fall of 2014. Complications related to the combining of multiple spaces to to form the restaurant were both costly and slowed the build-out process.  

Varasano's opened this past October, and according to Varasano, lackluster Black Friday sales spelled the writing was on the wall that the restaurant was in trouble.  

Management tried a number of "remediation" tactics including switching from counter service to full service and making better use of their speakeasy, but in the end, there was simply not enough traffic to sustain the business.  

Sources tell ToNeTo Atlanta that the restaurant abruptly closed after dinner service Wednesday, and that movers are on location today clearing out the space.  

A previously planned location at North Point Mall in Alpharetta, which long ago I'd heard was dead... is officially not happening.  

When reached by phone earlier today, Varasano blamed lower than expected traffic at the mall for the restaurant's closure, while other industry observers cited complexities in the concept and far too wild an interior, for the restaurant's demise.

Aside from classic Varasano's pizza, the restaurant also housed a "hidden" speakeasy called "The Vanguard," as well as featuring over 30 flat screen TVs in an effort to attract the sports-bar crowd.  The restaurant also had a semi-private "living room" for lounging and sports viewing or private gatherings.    

Varasano's  also had a severely underutilized satellite bar, "Oasis," located just outside the restaurant.  Varasano tells me that the bar was abandoned months ago, after it proved to be an unprofitable endeavor. 

Perimeter Mall is in the midst of a multi-million dollar renovation, one that is slated to include a full update of all the stores/common areas around Varasano's. The updates around the pizza restaurant, which were reportedly on track for early this year, are now scheduled to begin within the next couple of weeks. 

According to Varasano, the Perimeter location produced the best pizza he'd ever made but he felt the Dunwoody crowd simply didn't take to it.  

The original Varasano's in the lobby level of the Mezzo apartments on Peachtree Street in south Buckhead remains open along with a licensed location at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  While it is my understanding that the airport location does well, there has long been talk of the Buckhead outpost relocating due to its "challenged" location and limited parking.  For now, Varasano is hitting the "pause" button.  

Perimeter Mall recently welcomed Cowfish, a Charlotte-based burger & sushi restaurant, and will see the addition of Shake Shack later this fall.  A new, larger Apple store is also on track to open in time for the holiday shopping season.  Real estate sources indicate there is already interest in taking over the Varasano's space.  

Are you surprised to see Varasano's close?  What would you like to see open in its place?  What is your favorite Perimeter Mall restaurant?

Please share your thoughts below. 

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm so sad to see them go. Any time I was "longing" for things, I enjoyed their living room designed for "longing." If only it was designed for pining and wanting. Oh well...

Anonymous said...

We were excited when it was announced that it was going there but the delays ruined the excitement. Finally we went after they opened. You didn't know where to go or what to do. Very rude staff. They would ignore you while standing there wondering what to do. Then while we were eating they locked the doors at 7pm and tried to push people out for a private event.

Anonymous said...

It was terrible.

Michael Yousif said...

I work across the street and also was excited for this to finally open. I tried three times and was disappointed each time...here are some tips for the next tenant to occupy the beautiful space:
1. Bring in a semi-experienced staff. I know it's tough to find consistent/well-trained hourly teams in Atlanta, but with multiple hospitality programs in the area and Marta access to Perimeter Mall, it shouldn't be that hard.
2. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE - Perimeter has more Class A office space than any other sub-market in Atlanta...and that doesn't include the new State Farm Campus (not to mention two additional HQ's coming in 2017/2018). Your menu doesn't have to be complex or even "low-priced"...you just need to cater to the lunch crowd and the after work crowd. A person can eat at Alons or Newks everyday because they have "healthy" lunchish-dinner options...pizza everyday was not an option. However, you could offer wraps, salads and other light options with all the ingredients already used. (Can't believe I'm saying this, but even CPK offers options.) Menu Engineering considers both profitability and SALES...I know you can make a lot of money selling pizzas, but you also need volume. BTW - you were out of meatballs each time I tried to order them! (I really wanted to try them.)
3. Timing...I'm sorry, this was out of your control. Simon will renovate the mall, all of the upcoming residential will open soon and the new office buildings will open. The next person (or maybe the one after) will be able to capitalize on this.

Sorry, Mr. Verasano. Best of luck in your future endeavors. Running ONE successful restaurant is damn near impossible...impressive that you can do it multiple times over. For the next restaurant to occupy this space, please consider bringing in the best employees, knowing your target audience and hopefully timing is on your side.

Imandy said...

That space is doomed in its current configuration. He is absolutely right there is no traffic in that little nook and nobody uses that entrance cause it's valet only. I only tried to go once and I walked in and nobody greated me and I couldn't even figure out where to order so I left. It was also more "upscale " than I was expecting and I was just in shorts and flip flops so I wasn't comfortable. I read about the same time they switched from counter service so maybe I was just there during the transition. But 10 feet in the door there wasn't a counter or menu anywhere when I visited.

Anonymous said...

While Jeff Varasano is the only name mentioned since his name IS the restaurant, you should know that the failure belongs to BRETT HOLTZCLAW. It was his concept and he kept blaming everyone but himself when his concept failed. He'd try something else hoping it would work only to have it fail again and he'd blame those around him for the failure. BRETT - go look in the mirror to find the person to blame. You were the only constant each time, the failure is YOURS! Those who you left in your wake who were made to feel worthless after each concept failed will go on and I pray that they thrive IN SPITE OF YOU! I hope everything you do from here on after turns to dust you worthless ass.

Anonymous said...

I like the pizza and often have it delivered to my place in Midtown. Hope the original continues.

Anonymous said...

I agree. As many times as I went into that place, I saw Jeff there frequently and the kitchen was always well prepared. The only problems I encountered were when impromptu "events" were held by - you guessed it, Brett - and they would kick all us customers out. I think the flakiness of the restaurant due to these events is what caused customers to stop coming in!

Anonymous said...

Looks like two different "anonymous" posters (really just one) is attempting to divert blame from the business that bears the name VARASANO. The name of the business is VARASANO's. The entire staff (even this Brett character) could be horrible but the blame game and the name that is responsible is VARASANO. Successful LEADERS and proprietors take OWNERSHIP of their success and their FAILURES.

NO ONE is BUYING it !!!!!

Anonymous said...

Please! The name of the owner is VARASANO not Holtzclaw.

Anonymous said...

too bad. the pizza was excellent, but I never understood the whole sports bar theme. the NASCAR bumpers and Braves jersey hanging from the walls seem to conflict with a crafted foodie destination / speakeasy. Too many things going on at once.

Anonymous said...

I'm a big fan of the Midtown location and shocked they couldn't get a concept to work in this area.

Anonymous said...

We're fans of both the airport and Buckhead locations. Both provide good service and excellent pizza. We live near Perimeter and went to the Varasano's there on multiple occasions.
Sure, the space was quirky, but it's the people working there and the consistency of the product that was awful. The front of the house was cold and unwelcoming. The servers, while often sweet, had no idea what they were doing. And the pizzas were often undercooked and underwhelming. Not at all as good or consistent as at the other locations. And I never saw Jeff there once.
Sorry, but add up the lousy space, plus lousy service, plus lousy pizza, and what do you get? Failure. Purely ownership and management fault.
Bummer. We anxiously await Shake Shack. There's 100% certainty that Danny Meyer will have perfect service and management in place from day one.

Anonymous said...

Personally I thought the room was too big and too open. While I like their pizza and it deserves some sort of premium, I just felt it was overdone for a place you go to grab a couple slices, or to split a pizza. Mellow Mushroom does the Pizza Sports Bar well and they have some more items on the menu. Varasonos in midtown feels more upscale, more genuine/italian and intimate.

Anonymous said...

Brett Holtzclaw is the worst decision Jeff Varasano could of ever made. This man will fail any business he is associated with.

Anonymous said...

Brett always wanted to run a nightclub. But due to him being a grade A idiot, he shacked up with a pizza place. Just ask anyone that knows how he let a fetish night throw parties weekly at the Buckhead location until he got in trouble. Jeff V. had a good idea, but he let Brett run it into the ground, and cost him millions.

Informed said...

His pizza is amazing.... That Bret dude was the worse. He was such a parasite. I feel bad for whoever hired him next. So sorry to Jeff. You food is not and never was the problem...

Anonymous said...

Went there once. Ordered two pizza's, my wife's came out first and mine came out 20 minutes later. I think the cook time is less than two minutes, we were one of maybe 4 tables in the restaurant, and our waitress wouldn't even acknowledge us. To top it off, Jeff V. was in the restaurant and obviously more interested in flirting with his staff than running his business.

Unknown said...

Brett Holtzclaw and Varasano are business partners and co-owners of Varasanos. But you can't call an Italian pizza place "holtzclaws." Brett is very much a poor businessman.

Anonymous said...

Holtzclaw and Varasanos own it equally. Holtzclaw spearheads the bar/entertainment side.