Thursday, April 17, 2014

Penn Station East Coast Subs Plans A Stop in Atlanta

A new sub shop is coming to Atlanta.

Milford, Ohio-based Penn Station Subs plans to open a new location at The Village at Druid Hills at the intersection of Briarcliff and North Druid Hills Roads.  The Village at Druid Hills location will be the sub franchise's first in Atlanta.

Penn Station will occupy a nearly 1,500 square foot space in the center, to the right of Newk's Eatery.  Atlanta based fast casual chains Willy's Mexicana Grill and Tin Drum Asiacafe will open 2800 and 1750 square foot spaces, respectively, on the opposite end of the center.

Interestingly, Newk's Eatery features a menu that, while overall different from Penn Station, (soups, salads and pizzas), does include fourteen "toasted sandwiches."  Penn Station's menu includes thirteen grilled or cold (deli style) sandwiches offered in 6, 8, 10 or 12 inch sizes. I'm no real estate expert, but similar sandwich offerings would seem to present a co-tenancy issue.  (Newk's and Penn Station are literally next door to each other.)

Penn Station separates itself from other sub joints by offering fresh squeezed lemonade (like nearby Chick-fil-A) and fresh cut french fries. The sub joint's most popular sandwich is their Philadelphia Cheesesteak Sub Sandwich.

Penn Station will face existing competition in the immediate area from the likes of industry leader Subway, located adjacent to a Chevron nearby.  Jersey Mike's Subs also operates a reportedly popular location in Loehmann's (The Fresh Market?) Plaza.

Penn Station East Coast Subs was started in 1985 and has since grown to include more than 250 locations.  In 2013, the chain announced ambitious grown plans that included entering new markets such as Atlanta; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Detroit; Nashville; Richmond, Virginia; and North and South Carolina.

Brief research shows that while the chain is successful overall, I found at least four locations that have closed in the past few years.  Two locations in Raleigh, North Carolina, and locations in Madison, Mississippi and St. Louis, Missouri  have reportedly closed, albeit for different reasons.

According to a late 2012 article, the chain (at the time) sported a remarkably high success rate.  "We have made each restaurant's success our main priority, which is why we are able to offer such an outstanding return on investment to our franchisees and why we boast a 99.9 percent success rate," according to Craig Dunaway, president of Penn Station.

According to the official Penn Station website, this is the only metro Atlanta location currently  "coming soon."

Opening a single location of a new to market fast-casual chain can be quite risky.   Eau Claire, Wisconsin-based Erbert & Gerbert's and Coralville, Iowa-based  Panchero's Mexican Grill both lasted only a short time before their single franchised locations near Decatur and at Allen Plaza, respectively, closed.  Jacksonville, Florida-based Larry's Giant Subs had an even shorter life with their location at the Prado in Sandy Springs.    

The local franchisee of Cinnaminson, New Jersey-based Slack's Hoagie Shack tried to go upscale at TOWN Brookhaven and closed in early 2012, less than eighteen months after opening. (Slack's former space will be reopened later this year as a second location of Lucky's Burger & Brew)  In the mid 2000s, another franchisee opened an Alpharetta location of Lewis Center, Ohio-based  W.g. Grinders that also didn't exactly catch on, and closed.


Anonymous said...

Can't wait to try Penn Station Subs. Being from around Philadelphia.....always looking for a good cheese steak and subs. Thanks for all the news you provide.

Anonymous said...

So my takeaway from this article is that Atlantans stick to what they know and don't try anything new. That would explain the dismal restaurant scene here.

Anonymous said...

For the love of all that is right in this world can we please get a few Potbelly's in this city?? They are public now. They need to grow. I will help them do that if they come here.

Steve said...

Had Penn Station in Champaign, IL (where I went to college at the University of Illinois). 2 things:

1. The fries are unreal good.

2. The sandwiches may be even better.

This location will be no where near me, but I'll make sure to go. Can't wait - hope this is just the beginning of an expansion into our city.

Anonymous said...

Penn Station is very, very good for a traditional sub place. Nice to see them take a chance in this market.

The fries ARE insanely good. Atlantans should give it a try. Pretty sure they would be return repeatedly.

For that area, it's better than Subway (shocking, I know) and Jersey Mike's.

Atlantan99 said...

@Anon RE: Potbelly,

You and me both! I was just in Phoenix and got Potebelly but that's just a bit far for my regular lunch :(

Thanks for the comments and readership.

Anonymous said...

Having lived in Ohio for many years, and also having been a franchisee of another growing sub chain, I can honestly say that Penn Station rocks! Glad to see that 2 locals are bringing the brand here. Fantastic subs, fries and lemonade!,

Anonymous said...

Penn Station is AMAZING!!! The selection and quality is unlike any other sub shop around. Went to the store opening this afternoon, great experience and the food was unbeatable, as always.

Anonymous said...

I've been a HUGE Penn-Station fan for years having discovered it my freshman year of college. I work close to this location and stopped in today for lunch. I had the Italian w/fries and fresh lemonade, RIDICULOUSLY GOOD!! The staff knocked it out of the park, far more polite then what you typically experience in Atlanta's restaurants. What I would guess is whomever wrote the article has never tried the food here before. You can't compare Penn-Station to a Subway or Jersey Mikes, and definitely not to Newks, the flavor is far better and everything is made fresh to order. My advice would be to try this place ASAP!!

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