Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pollo Tropical Bringing Flex Casual to the Burbs + More

Miami, Florida-based Pollo Tropical plans to open another Atlanta-area location, this one in Alpharetta near North Point Mall.  The planned eatery will be constructed near the intersection of
Haynes Bridge Road and North Point Drive, just off Georgia 400.

Pollo Tropical will be joined in the new development by Dallas, Texas-based Corner Bakery, which itself has begun to expand its Atlanta presence following its purchase by Atlanta-based Roark Capital group last spring.  Roark's other notable holdings include Moe's Southwest Grill, Arby's and Cinnabon.  Corner Bakery was originally started by Chicago-based Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, also the creator of Maggiano's Little Italy.  Corner Bakery is located within the Maggiano's in Buckhead in addition to locations in both Lenox Square and 270 Peachtree Street.  Earlier this year, the chain added another location in Peachtree Corners at Market Place shopping center.

Denver-based Chipotle plans to join Pollo Tropical and Corner Bakery in the development.   By my count, the Chipotle in Alpharetta will mark the chain's 18th in the metro area, following the upcoming opening of store 17 at Howell Mill and Collier Roads.  

After closing three franchised locations in Atlanta in 1996, Pollo Tropical re-entered the Atlanta market in 2011, this time under corporate control.  Last summer, a new restaurant opened in Duluth and was joined by a second earlier this spring in Akers Mill, not far from Cumberland Mall.

The parcel that Pollo Tropical will build on was at one point owned by Cousins and was zoned for offices. At that time, it was zoned to exclude drive-thru restaurants.  A Container Store was subsequently on board to open there, but that deal later fell apart.

The new 3,788 square-foot restaurant will be constructed on a 1.2 acre site that has sat vacant for many years.  Pollo Tropical spent months going back and forth with the city council due to the council's many requests for adjustments, chief among them the relocation of the drive-thru to the rear of the restaurant.

It was stressed was that the restaurant does more of its business at dinner than a typical fast food eatery and also features over 100 inside seats, significantly more than a typical fast food eatery. Pollo Tropical further tries to distinguish themselves by putting their restaurant in a category that has come to be known as "flex casual."

Flex casual is a step below casual dining options like Red Lobster, but above concepts like Panera Bread.  A server does tend to your table and assist with refills and such, but ordering is done at the counter and the pricepoint is similar to a Panera.

In nearby Johns Creek, Pollo Tropical also received approval for a new restaurant.  The Johns Creek eatery will be located in Medlock Center on State Bridge Road.

Another Buckhead area location was proposed in 2010 and precipitated the relocation of a popular local market but the restaurant never opened.  A nearby Zaxby's eventually opened but sources tell me the Pollo Tropical has given up on their plans for a unit there.

Have you been to a Pollo Tropical since they returned to Atlanta?  Do you think they will be successful this second time around?  Do you prefer Panera Bread or Corner Bakery? ... or Atlanta Bread Co.?

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Anonymous said...

Unfortunaly I stop by today (08/09/2013) and with grand sadness can see the huge african american comunity in line for training and work at this store.
This is typical situation that really dislike this small town and is killing what is the North Point Mall

Anonymous said...

Glad to see that pollo tropical is back in atl however.The need to improve the quantity of the food. Was very disappointed on the food. White rice was very sticky the fried yuca was terrible and the tres leches is very over price for what you get and not been home made. Very disappointed I hope this is only because they are new and need to train there staff properly on how to prepare there food.

Anonymous said...

glad to see such open minded people on the internet. I've been to this location several times and I love everything about it!

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