Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Au Bon Pain Bringing its Good Bread Back to Atlanta

Boston, Massachusetts-based Au Bon Pain is coming back to Atlanta.

The fast casual bakery & cafe eatery plans to open a new location at Piedmont Hospital on Peachtree Road in April.

The chain closed their locations at Atlantic Station and Allen Plaza in 2008 and 2009 respectively.  The Atlantic Station location lasted about six months before closing, while the Allen Plaza location lasted a little longer.  The Allen Plaza closure was more of an eviction as the bakery's furniture, fixtures and equipment were all left outside.   (The Atlantic Station location reopened as Tin Drum Asia Cafe while the Allen Plaza location became Harvest Bistro)

Casual dining options near Piedmont Hospital have become more limited recently given that Saigon Cafe closed this past fall, itself a replacement to Mama Fu's.  Fresh 4 U Mediterranean Cafe, Jimmy John's and Chick-fil-A though all remain open in the same center.

Au Bon Pain offers a menu similar to that of Panera Bread with a variety of sandwiches, salads, soups and assorted baked goods.  Panera has added metro Atlanta locations in Ansley Mall, Powers Ferry Shopping Center in North Buckhead, and most recently a new location on Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw.

Au Bon Pain on the other hand, in opening at Piedmont Hospital, is following what seems to have been their  successful strategy in other markets like New York and Pennsylvania.  Many of their restaurants are located in "destination centers," where dining options may be limited, and they are one of the only ones. Examples would be within hospitals, office buildings, universities, airports and bus stations.

Atlanta-based Rising Roll Gourmet has followed a similar growth plan having added locations to Monarch Plaza in Buckhead, the Candler Building in midtown and within the Piedmont West Medical facility on Howell Mill Road.

With local medical centers around the nation finally cracking down on fast food eateries like McDonald's and seeking  healthier fare to be available to patients, friends and family, Au Bon Pain may find themselves in a good position for continued growth. 

I'd love for Earl of Sandwich or The Melt make their way to Atlanta.  What sandwich or casual eatery would you like to see come to (or return to) the metro area?  Miami Subs?  Whataburger? Cosi?  Drop me a line in the comment section below and weigh in.


Anonymous said...

I don't understand why Au Bon Pain would have been 'evicted' from Allen Plaza. Were they not paying their bills? I thought the idea was to attract businesses to a downtown that is sorelylacking in activity and decent dining options. The Au Bon Pain space in Allen Plaza is once again vacant as the gourmet sandwich shop that came in after it is also gone. Were they evicted? Seems like the city is really behind the 8 ball in attracting any decent places downtown. Vacant storefronts litter Peachtree Street, even next to the Hooters. Seems like complete incompetance on the city's part to me.

Anonymous said...

Cosi and Potbelly. I'd love some of Cosi's great bread and a good salad, and a sub and oatmeal chocolate chip cookie from Potbelly.

PedestriAnne said...

I was just thinking a couple of days ago that downtown Atlanta desperately needs Cosi and Potbelly. I must have eaten $100 worth of those oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in a couple of years.

I wonder why neither of those chains has made any inroads down here. There are dozens of empty storefronts in downtown and midtown they could open in. There's also a McDonald's on the Marietta Street side of Five Points and another one on the Alabama Street side. Can we trade one of those in for a Potbelly or Cosi?

The quality and freshness of a lot of the food at ABP declined in just the few years I was in/around DC. It used to be that if you ordered a sandwich or salad it was always made to order. Now some of those items are prepared ahead of time and sitting in a refrigerated case.

I still love the soups at ABP, though. Most lunches you can get for $5 these days are barely edible, but you could get a big bowl of really good soup and fresh bread for that much at ABP.

Atlantan99 said...

I have been to Cosi but not Potbelly. I hear great things, what is so wonderful about it?

Thanks for the comments and readership.

ed said...

Cosi was located in the Macy's at Town Center Mall for about a year. They have a great menu

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