Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Coming Soon: 10% More Willy's Mexicana Grills!

Willy's Mexicana Grill will soon open two additional Atlanta area locations. One location will open where one of its national competitors failed. Qdoba, a wholly owned subsidiary of San Diego, California-based Jack in the Box, closed its Midtown Place location on Ponce de Leon months ago, and Willy's will open in its place in late December or early January. Another location will open December 6th at the Parker H. Petit Science Center on the campus of Georgia State University. The center opened last year and is already home to a unit of another local chain: Waffle House.

Willy Bitter opened the first
Willy's in 1995, and was the inspiration for Moe's. The story goes that Martin Sprock, who later opened the first Moe's in 2000, approached Willy to buy him out and
franchise, and he declined. Willy's has remained a local business, whereas Moe's was sold to FOCUS Brands in 2007, and now has over 420 locations in over 35 states. Willy's operates a total of 20 locations, all of which are corporately owned aside from a recent opening in Gainesville, Florida. I can think of only one Willy's to ever close. That one was located at the outdoor area just outside Mall of Georgia, where also Max Lager's closed. With the exception of the Mall of GA location, it would seem as though Willy's has a track record for successful locations.

In terms of the GSU location, the store will surely do a great lunch business from students, but I doubt dinner will be nearly as busy. A former GSU student myself, I did have the occasional late class, but the center is not close enough to either the dorms or the majority of classrooms to make it a frequent choice. Moe's Southwest Grill has a location near the Aderhold Learning Center on Broad Street and faces a similar dilemma. The restaurant does very well at lunch, but is nearly dead during dinner hours.

Downtown casual dining is amusing to me with the duplication of so many chains in the area. Subway has at least 4 locations in and around GSU and CNN Center. Waffle House has a location at the Petit Science Center, one at Underground and will soon renovate a structure at 135 Andrew Young International Boulevard for what its calling a "showcase" location.

Moe's has a location within CNN Center, on Broad Street and one at Peachtree Center. Oddly enough, Peachtree Center is home to both Moe's AND Willy's. ( Moe's opened a couple years ago, the Willy's has been there far longer)

Over in midtown, Willy's is opening in a rather competitive area. Just up Ponce, near The Bookhouse Pub, the ever popular Chipotle Mexican Grill operates a successful freestanding location. Just a little further up the road is a recently renovated Moe's Southwest Grill. In the middle lies the building that formerly housed Tortillas, the burrito joint with a cult-like popularity upon which the recently opened Bell St. Burritos is modeled. Tortillas closed in 2003, with co-owner Charlie Kearns saying "The burrito war has been fought and won. We didn't win it."

So how 'bout you, are you a loyal Willy's fan? Do you prefer Moe's or Willy's, Bell Street or Chipotle? Is Taco Bell your go to? Weigh in below and share your thoughts.

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SB said...

I have become a huge Willy's fan this year after years of loyalty to Moe's because it was the only one in my college town back then.

My sister reports the Willy's in Gainesville, FL is complete (free-standing unit) and looks like it could open any day now.

Anonymous said...

Willys has a lot to answer for if they were the inspiration for Moes.

They may be a national chain but Chipotle is much better than Willys. Moes is so disgusting that I can't believe they remain open

Liz said...

Willy's! Sinaloa chicken or tofu, mmmm. I only go to Moe's for convenience sake, but it looks like I won't have to anymore.

TheJohnP said...

I don't go to Willy's much, but has seemed consistent in taste and quality.

Moe's has definitely gone downhill in quality over the years, but with so many locations they are super convenient when you want a fix.

And I stopped going to Chipotle a long time ago, because I'm not going to pay extra for chips when I can get them included anywhere else.

But if I have a REAL burrito craving, I'd wait for the weekend and head over to El Burro Pollo because they are amazing.

Although I hear Tomatillos in EAV is pretty tasty.

Anonymous said...

Why do so many love Chipotle? Moe's has gone downhill and I'll still choose Moe's over Chipotle. Chipotle's rice is bad. Their chips are bad - even if free.

Anonymous said...

If I'm going to choose to eat at either, it will be Willy's. Tastes better, looks better and the feel of the establishment is more inviting. Moe's has changed over the years.

Anonymous said...

Bell Street Burritos is the best of the aforementioned burrito purveyors.........

Anonymous said...

I have just heard a disturbing report about Willy's on Ponce. Apparently they employ a server there named Raul who is extremely homophobic and openly mocks and parodies gay customers in front of other patrons. I'm afraid I won't be spending any of my gay money at Willy's until this situation is corrected.

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