Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Broadening Options for Breaking Bread @ Breakfast

Atlanta based J. Christopher's is opening a new location, while First Watch announces two more of their own.

J. Christopher's newest location will open at the Pavilions at East Lake shopping center on Roswell Road in Marietta.  According to the local Patch, the restaurant has been "coming soon" for nearly a year.  Not knowing the backstory, I recently found myself in the center and had a noticed the "coming soon" signs displaying an opening of "Spring 2013" which is apparently a new development.  I reached out to J. Christopher's corporate by email and received no response. I would have called them but finding a current phone number for them seems more difficult than speaking to a live representative at eBay. 

From what I saw, the restaurant could be nice whenever it does actually open.  The restaurant is taking a portion of what was an Ace Hardware.  Although I don't know for sure, the side of the space they are taking looks to have been a garden center previously and therefore offers a rather spacious outdoor patio area. 

Additionally, while the center's leasing agent claims  that the restaurant will open "in a month", the progress that I saw, or lack thereof , would seem more in line with a 90-120 day buildout and eventual opening.  I later called another J. Christopher's and was told plans are for the new location to be open in late June or early July.

Browsing J. Christopher's website, one sees that the chain claims to have 22 restaurants "satisfying millions of taste buds every day." Oddly enough, the same website shows the current store count at only 13.  Even with 22 stores open, I seriously doubt they were, or ever could be, serving millions daily.

Interestingly, the Pavilions center recently lost one of its food options in Panera Bread.  The national bakery cafe chain closed at Pavilions late last year and "relocated" to a new  location on Barrett Parkway in Kennesaw.  Call it saving face, call it B.S., Panera Bread closed in what it apparently decided was a less than optimal location and opened a new restaurant in another city, over seven miles away.

Bradenton, Florida based First Watch, a similar breakfast and lunch dining concept, purchased two (corporately owned)  J. Christopher's last year and reopened them as First Watch restaurants.  This past January, former J. Christopher's in Johns Creek and Smyrna reopened as First Watch.

First Watch has over 100 locations across 15 states and plans to open 20 additional locations in the metro Atlanta area in the coming years.

Though not publicized as heavily as the conversions, First Watch also acquired "the right to purchase the J. Christopher’s brand, concept and all intellectual property, contingent on certain developments." according to Nation's Restaurant News.

I reached out to Chris Tomasso, chief marketing officer for First Watch, for answers.  According to Tomasso, First Watch opted not to purchase the rest of the existing J. Christopher's restaurants along with their intellectual property.  Instead, First Watch is expanding on their own with new locations coming soon to Alpharetta and Dunwoody.

The Dunwoody location is scheduled to open later this summer in Dunwoody Village.  First Watch joins a growing retail lineup at the center that also includes Atlanta based Marlow's Tavern, which opened last year.  Additional planned openings include Cafe at Pharr, which hopes to open later this month, as well as Atlanta newcomer Mojo Burrito.

In Alpharetta, First Watch will open in a to-be-built freestanding restaurant at the corner of Old Milton and North Point Parkways.

Each of the upcoming First Watch restaurants is scheduled to be about the same size, roughly 3500 square feet, and each will have a large outdoor patio.

Atlanta has become a hotbed for breakfast concepts, with local chains expanding and Lincolnshire, Illinois based Egg Harbor Cafe and Destin, Florida based Another Broken Egg Cafe each expanding their presence in Atlanta. 

Surely purposefully, First Watch's upcoming locations are nearby to new locations of Another Broken Egg Cafe.  Their Alpharetta location is less than 1.5 miles from ABEC, while their Dunwoody location is less than 2 miles away.

Today there are two Egg Harbor Cafes open in Georgia, one in Johns Creek and another in Sandy Springs. I've heard talk of a third that would be located ITP, but while I'm familiar with the location, a lease had not been signed as of last week.   There are three Another Broken Egg Cafes open in Georgia, with a fourth opening next week in Dunwoody and a fifth on the books for Savannah later this year.
What is your favorite breakfast spot in town?  Do you favor independents like Rise-N-Dine in Emory Village and West Egg on the westside, or chain operations like J. Christopher's and First Watch?  What part of town is underserved in breakfast offerings?


Anonymous said...

"Browsing J. Christopher's website, one sees that the chain claims to have 22 restaurants "satisfying millions of taste buds every day." Oddly enough, the same website shows the current store count at only 13. Even with 22 stores open, I seriously doubt they were, or ever could be, serving millions daily."

Haters gonna hate.

The average person has 10,000 taste buds...try mixing in a little math and common sense with your snark.

Dan said...

That made me laugh!

Love the info this blog provides but why the need for such negative vibes that are strewn throughout?

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