Monday, April 17, 2017

Tom + Chee Finished in Buford, Poké Bar Opening Soon

Grilled cheese eatery closes third Atlanta area location.

Tom + Chee, the Cincinnati, Ohio based grilled cheese and tomato soup restaurant, has closed its Buford franchise near the Mall of Georgia.  The 2,850 square foot Tom + Chee restaurant opened in March 2015 and was located in The Plaza, a small shopping center on Buford Drive.   

Sources say the restaurant closed after dinner service on Saturday night.  

Steve Josovitz of The Shumacher Group represented the seller and Irving Jacobson, also of The Shumacher Group, Inc., represented the buyer.

The Buford closing comes on the heels of January's closure of the Tom + Chee on Howell Mill Road in West Midtown and February's closure of Tom + Chee in Alpharetta.  

Bibby Donnelly Investments, LLC owned both the West Midtown and Buford restaurants.  Victor Bibby and Brian Donnelly are the men behind the franchise and funded their failed franchise effort with proceeds from this.  

In my February post, I predicted the Buford location would be the next to close, leaving Kennesaw as the lone local survivor of the once promising chain.

After receiving an equity investment from "shark" Barbara Corcoran on ABC's Shark Tank in 2013, Tom + Chee began to rapidly expand, growing from three locations to upwards of 50 with reportedly "over 25,000 franchise requests."  In recent months, franchised  Tom + Chee  restaurants in O’Fallon, MO, Lexington, KY and Louisville, KY have all closed.   

Overall, franchisees have closed over a dozen Tom + Chee locations over the past couple of years including one in Carrboro, North Carolina, that closed last year after just six months in business.  

The former Tom + Chee in West Midtown is expected to reopen later this year as Holler & Dash, a new breakfast and lunch restaurant.  The former Alpharetta Tom + Chee restaurant remains vacant, according to owner Stream Realty's website.  

Poké Bar, an LA based poke joint, entered the Atlanta market last fall with a location in Sandy Springs.  Poke, for those who are not up on current food trends, is a popular west coast dish which essentially is deconstructed sushi in a bowl.  

Poké Bar has leased the former Tom + Chee Buford and plans to open later this summer.  As I previously reported, the chain has also inked leases in Alpharetta at The Atwater (former Pieology) and in Atlanta at Edgewood Retail District (former Uncle Maddio's Pizza).  

Whereas Poké Bar is concentrating on OTP locations for new restaurants, Poké Perfect, with U.S. headquarters in Atlanta, is concentrating their efforts on intown locations.  The chain's first U.S. location will open in Decatur on May 1st, with plans to open on the Westside in late June or early July. A third intown location is in the works for late this year or early next year.  

Back in Buford, Aklat Mediterranean Cafe, which has been in the works since last summer, announced via their Facebook page on April 15th that they are "3 weeks away from opening."  Aklat is located in a former Radio Shack, to the left of where Poké Bar is opening.  

Are you surprised to see Tom + Chee struggling so much? Were you a patron of Tom + Chee in Buford?  Do you think a poke joint will thrive in Buford?

Please share your thoughts below  

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

Poke is too niche but will enjoy it while it lasts.

Anonymous said...

It was a trend. Trends don't last in the restaurant business.

ImAndy said...

The particular one is kinda trendy due to the show but there are hugely successful grilled cheese restaurants that have been open for decades. Melt has had several locations in Ohio in "expensive rent districts" for at least 15 years. I dined at one in Lakewood Ohio three weeks ago and it was reservation only on a Friday night.

Anonymous said...

Hey Eli. Have you done any writing's or updates on the Candi Burris OLG Gang restaurant? Would be very interested in your perspective and research. That's one of the greatest things I love about your blog is that I would call it a Factditorial in that it always provides facts from your great research and at the same time editorial perspective.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous#2

I concur.

Robert said...

Melt is different in that is actually good. I am honestly surprised the guy hasn't franchised out.

Anonymous said...

Melt Bar & Grilled serves beer and other cocktails with gourmet grilled cheese. Would personally prefer a pairing of beer over tomato soup.

Anonymous said...

There's also a Poke Bar being built out in the Medlock Crossing shopping center in Johns Creek in the spot that used to be Quickly bubble tea place