Monday, March 5, 2018

[EXCLUSIVE] We Have a Problem: Houston's on Lenox Road Closing

Houston's plans to close their longstanding restaurant on Lenox Road at East Paces Ferry Road in Buckhead later this month after nearly 40 years in business.  ToNeTo Atlanta has confirmed that the restaurant, which first opened in 1978, will close after dinner service on Saturday, March 31.  Sources tell ToNeTo Atlanta that staff was informed of the upcoming closure this past weekend with severance pay being offered to all employees with at least five years of service.  As a company, Houston's is known for its consistency both in food and service, the latter of which will make its nontenured employees a hot commodity for other restaurants looking to hire.

The Lenox Road Houston's was the second overall Houston's to open following the first location which premiered in Nashville in 1977.  The restaurant enjoyed a prime location, across from both the JW Marriott Hotel as well as Lenox Square.  

[BrickTop's, also based in Nashville, and seen as a "copycat" Houston's, closed its lone Buckhead area location at the end of 2017 at Terminus.]  


Sources close to the restaurant tell ToNeTo Atlanta that Bevery Hills based Hillstone, which owns Houston's, was unable to come to new lease terms with the property's owner.  That said, a separate source, who previously worked in management for Houston's locally, indicates that Houston's in fact owns the property and the "failed lease negotiation" is a ruse the company has used previously when closing a restaurant.  

ToNeTo Atlanta has thus far not independently verified the identity of the property's owner but was able to confirm that "Regional Realty" and  "Twenty One Sixty Six Peachtree  LLC," both registered at 3520 Piedmont Road suite 410, own the Lenox Road and Peachtree Road Houston's respectively.   
According to Fulton County records, the Lenox Road restaurant sits on approximately 0.93 acres with its land valued at about $1.7 million and its 7,000 square foot restaurant valued at about $950,000.

There are reportedly no imminent plans to reopen a third Houston's in metro Atlanta.  

Houston's restaurants have historically been among the highest grossing in Atlanta.  Currently, Houston's operates three restaurants in Atlanta, all of which are in Buckhead.  


The Houston's on Northside Parkway near West Paces Ferry Road is located in a 6,200 square foot outparcel of Paces Ferry Plaza.  The restaurant, which seats 163 patrons, is the company's top performer in metro Atlanta with 2016 sales totaling nearly $10.6 million.  

The south Buckhead Houston's, located on Peachtree Road at Colonial Homes Drive, is nearly 7,400 square feet and seats 196 patrons.  2016 sales at the south Buckhead location were about $9.6 million according to published reports.   

Side view of Houston's from East Paces Ferry Road 

The Lenox Road Houston's provides seating for a reported 159 patrons, making it the lowest seating capacity of the three Atlanta locations.  It also rang up slightly lower sales than its two sibling locations with 2016 sales of about $9.5 million. 

With average sales per unit of nearly $10 million, Houston's restaurants in metro Atlanta were the fourth, seventh and eighth highest grossing restaurants in the city in 2016.  
Houston's once operated a total of five restaurants in metro Atlanta but closed its Dunwoody outpost on Ashford Dunwoody Road in 2007 and its Cumberland area outpost on Powers Ferry Road in 2013.  

The former Dunwoody location today operates as J. Alexander's, a similar concept, also based in Nashville.  The former Cumberland location sat vacant for many years following its closure but reopened this past August as Sage Woodfire Tavern, a local concept.   

There is no indication that Katana Teppanyaki & Sushi, which occupies the onetime Ruby Tuesday restaurant adjacent to Houston's, is also closing as part of a larger land assemblage.  Katana occupies a 5,324 square foot building that was constructed in 1975 and occupies roughly 0.61 acres.  Fulton County property records indicate that Katana's land is valued at just over $2 million and its building is valued at about $466,000.  The Katana property is owned by Jacob Kerker Et Al PO Box 29585 according to Fulton County property records.  

Local rapper/actor/entrepreneur Clifford "T.I." Harris led a protest at the Peachtree Road Houston's this past fall after allegations of African American customer discrimination at the restaurant.  Last week, T.I. confirmed to TMZ that he has "ended" his boycott, as a result of the company's introduction of diversity training. 

Are you surprised by the planned closure of Houston's on Lenox Road?  Do you believe that failed lease negotiations led to the decision to close the Lenox Road restaurant?  What would you like to see open in place of the Houston's on Lenox Road?


Please share your thoughts below.  

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sad. I had some good times at this location. Great food/service.

Anonymous said...

How much money does a damn restaurant need to make to keep the doors open? Good lord...nearly $10 million not enough to satisfy your greedy cravings, Hillstone?

Anonymous said...

Any place that charges $16 for spinach and artichoke dip deserves to close

Ham said...

Yes, sad, but nothing is really a surprise anymore. It does mean the extortionist will have to find another target for their endless claims of victimization.

Anonymous said...

J. Alexander is pretty much the same restaurant.
There was once a time that all the Houstons were the top grossing restaurants in town. Sounds like they are still making pretty good money. I don't think I've ever had a bad meal at one.

Anonymous said...

@Anon @2:57AM - What's worse? That they charge that much or clearly enough Atlantans (& others around the country) are paying for an appetizer of cheese, spinach & chips that was popular a decade or 2 ago?

Anonymous said...

J. Alexander can't even compare to Houston's whatsoever

Anonymous said...

Eating overpriced microwaved spinach dip is an experience worth the high cost, but not if you are going to pay slave wages according to the almighty TI

Anonymous said...

This sucks. I love Houston’s.

Anonymous said...

The last time I went there, I made a mental note to not go again. The prices are a little too high, and the menu is a little too limited.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with the food or prices at Houston's. What I despise is being forced to valet park for lunch at the Peachtree location when there is giant empty parking lot for the shopping center at that location. There is always a line waiting to get your car and you have to allow extra time for lunch if you are planning to go back to work. No thanks!

Anonymous said...

Love Houstons! Frequent all locations. Best Ribs anywhere...Sad! Why can't Atlanta keep something this good open....At least we still have the I-75 location. That's pretty close! Thought for years they would bring some of the closed locations back...

Anonymous said...

@Anon 3/5 12:52PM - Did you read the article? This location grosses close to $10M a year. Clearly has nothing to do with Atlantans not supporting "something this good". There's more to it (i.e. they're selling the land for a big profit)

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ. J Alexander's is better that Houston's anyway, all day, every day. Lol

Anonymous said...

This is such a great place. Unbelievably consistent food and exceptional service from a lot of long-term servers. It wasn't cheap, either. And yet it was consistently crowded, especially during the evenings and weekends.

If you're sitting in the top 10 in $-grossing restaurants in the city (as this one apparently was) and with a solid market position with no sign of eroding appeal, the reason for leaving must be that there is greater upside with another option than with remaining open. Thus, the value of the property.

Whatever the cause, I hate to see this place go.

Anonymous said...

Great headline Eli!

Anonymous said...

Bring back Oceanaire

Anonymous said...

Oops Ocean Prime. Bring back Ocean Prime in this location.

Anonymous said...

I would also shudder a business rather than pay out a frivilous AA lottery lawsuit! What else is coming down this month?

Anonymous said...

No surprise here. Pappadeaux will be next, along with The Palm all for the same reason.

Unknown said...

One of their main problems is their customer base has changed and they are having trouble keeping good employees due to poor tipping. That was told to me by an existing manager.

Anonymous said...

The last 3 comments are Racist. All that Wealth would be better spent in Wakanda!

NerdVittles said...

Coming soon: Another Nice Tall Hotel

Anonymous said...

Anonymous3:39,

Agreed..and its people like them is why Houston's has gone belly up.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad someone finally said this. Sad but most certainly true. The only way around this is to pay wait staff a living wage and forgo the tipping, or bump up the prices by 15-18% to compensate the staff when they get stiffed

Anonymous said...

Not racist if true

Anonymous said...

It's sad how people use race as an excuse and never see/hear the truth. That word will overshadow truth.

Anonymous said...

LOL Wakanda is fictional, just like much of the "racist" propaganda the demographic is spreading. Move to SA and build your Wakanda since your homeland is cleansing it of evil "racist whitey. Zimbamwe is your Wakanda .... http://www.thejournal.ie/south-africa-farm-murder-3770003-Dec2017/

Anonymous said...

Nobody closes a $10M revenue location because of lease negotiations. The reason is a ruse, but it is also understandable given what they put up with the past few months. If I owned it and about 50 other successful locations, i wouldn't put up with that crap either and just shut it down!

Nicci Kang said...

They actually pay their workers pretty well.

Anonymous said...

https://www.theroot.com/check-please-black-folks-and-tipping-1790864961

Anonymous said...

The attitude and superiority shows up a few minutes before those so-called customers walk-in and start demanding Michelin star level service. SMH

Michael A. Graves said...


I am a Houston’s fan for many reasons, however Hillstone has to make real changes in it’s companies culture. I had a horrible experience fraught with racial overtones at Houston’s (here in the city of Houston), and it was never addressed. It was 3 African American middle-aged couples on a Sunday afternoon, at brunch after Church. What started as a great day, ended very poorly. We all vowed never to return! They seemed exceedingly comfortable with that notion...and that is where the problem begins. If you don’t want Black business...stand-up and say it Hillstone, and you will be heard!

Anonymous said...

@Michael A. Graves ... I don't understand, what happened? Please explain. Was this in Atlanta?

Anonymous said...

The OSCAR for the supporting crisis actor in the science fiction drama goes to ... @11:10 AM

"Racial Overtones" - yet another phrase that is over played. Your message is lost and you've cried "racist" so many time no one is listening anymore. Crabs in a Barrel


Anonymous said...

TI = Totally Irrelevant Stop being sheep and throwing your money to these thugs that are doing nothing for you. BLM antagonists shut down Joe's Crab Shack with a fake photo. Go ahead, just shut down all your favorite restaurants. SMH

Ssmith said...

Exactly! Now he’s after Starbucks!

Ssmith said...

Exactly! Now he’s aftet Starbucks!

Ssmith said...

They will not tolerate the race card nonsense! They won the battle hete!
Luckily I moved and have Houston’s nearby

Ssmith said...

Exactly my feelings and thoughts!
Ridiculous boycott bs! I predict they pull out of ATL all together

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