|The wall is coming down!|
Expanding chain to make Georgia debut.
Orlando-based Earl of Sandwich plans to quietly open its doors at Phipps Plaza at 10 AM this morning. The new restaurant, located on the mall's second floor, is the first in the state of Georgia and only the 31st worldwide.
The chain, which got its start in 2004, was founded by the 11th Earl of Sandwich John Montagu, his younger son John Montagu, and businessman and namesake Robert Earl, founder of Planet Hollywood.
The restaurant occupies a portion of what had for many years been a large Gap store but it has been vacant in recent years. Given that the space had never before been a restaurant, it look a little while to get the eatery built out.
Phipps Plaza, which lost basically its entire food court when it added Legoland Discovery Center in 2012, sees the lower floor, so close to the escalators, as a great spot to add casual dining options. While Johnny Rockets and Moe's relocated to new spaces and Rock's Chicken and Subway were later added, the mall was lacking quality fast casual offerings and Earl of Sandwich is the perfect solution to that problem.
I was introduced to Earl of Sandwich in 2007 at International Plaza in Tampa. Similar to my discovery of Potbelly Sandwich Shop in Chicago, I was fascinated with Earl and how their food was similar to other sandwich joints, but far better in taste.
Among the most popular sandwich options is the "Holiday Turkey" which includes turkey, cornbread stuffing, turkey gravy, cranberry sauce & mayonnaise.
|The "Holiday Turkey" sandwich|
While perhaps not as well known as California's In-N-Out, Earl's local opening is eagerly anticipated by a number of readers who have reached out to share their excitement about it.
Normal hours will be 7:15 AM for breakfast through 9 PM for dinner. The restaurant has partnered with Atlanta's Octane Coffee to keep its customers caffeinated.
Currently, the chain operates twenty-seven locations domestically with international locations in the U.K., Qatar and Disneyland Paris. Disney is a popular partner for the brand as they also operate at Disney Springs in Lake Buena Vista, FL and Downtown Disney in Anaheim, CA.
Franchisee Alex Espalin of Regal Restaurants, LLC signed a multi unit agreement to expand the brand in metro Atlanta. Sources tell me he is already scouting for location two.
Unlike most Earl of Sandwich locations, the Atlanta outpost will offer Coke products, something Espalin, a former innovations executive with Coca-Cola, was able to finesse for his group. Additionally, Espalin tells me, Coke may test new bottled and fountain beverages at his restaurant.
Espalin, who has been in Atlanta fifteen years since taking the innovations post at Coke, is originally from California. He earned degrees from Cornell, Michigan and Harvard and is a passionate entrepreneur. Growing up, Espalin worked in restaurants and later managed restaurants in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. Espalin plans to bring the "Disney Magic" to his Earl of Sandwich restaurant(s).
Assisting Espalin at Earl of Sandwich is a team of seasoned restaurant and hospitality veterans.
Michele, formerly of assorted Darden Restaurants, will be the General Manager, with Austin, formerly of Chick-fil-A, aiding her as supervisor. Greg, who previously co-owned a pair of Quiznos Subs franchises, will be the restaurant's local Training Director.
Are you excited about Earl of Sandwich coming to metro Atlanta? If you've been before, what is your favorite sandwich? Where would you like to see Earl of Sandwich open next?
Please share your thoughts below.