Friday, May 1, 2015

Atlanta Seemingly Refused to Support the Don

Pizza place calls it quits

New York-based Don Antonio by Starita has closed its Atlanta restaurant.  The Neapolitan-style pizzeria opened in early January 2014, and closed earlier this week.  Don Antonio opened in place of STG Trattoria, a local pizzeria owned by Brian Lewis of Bocado.  (Lewis reportedly retained a minority stake in the new business.) 

While no formal announcement was made regarding the closure, the restaurant's Yelp page has been updated to reflect "closed."  I visited the restaurant this week, and aside from a handwritten "CLOSE" on a sign outside, the restaurant appears to have been left untouched, suggesting a sudden and possibly unplanned exit.  

While I found the food good and the service attentive, Don Antonio suffered from the same terrible location as its predecessor. While the restaurant featured a cute outdoor patio and was located in the same center as Flywheel and had the St. Regis as its neighbor, its secret location, without any visibility from West Paces Ferry Road, was an issue too large to overcome.  

While diners might travel from Buckhead to Home Park just to go to Antico Pizza Napoletana, the fact that Don Antonio was not "local" made it less likely people that would seek it out, IMHO.  Overall, Atlanta has witnessed countless notable and successful restaurants come from other major cities only to fail in Atlanta.  

Tom Colicchio brought both his craft and craftbar concepts to Atlanta but closed them about a year after opening. Aquaknox, a Las Vegas-based seafood eatery, opened and closed in short order at Terminus in Buckhead, leading me to write one of the more interesting posts in this blog's history. Wolfgang Puck pulled his Wolfgang Puck Express concept from Atlanta, as did Emeril and his Emeril's restaurant in Buckhead.  

The one exception I see to these struggles is in the quick serve / fast food segment of the food industry.  Del Taco, Cook-Out, Bojangles' and Shake Shack have all performed especially well in their debuts, or in the case of Del Taco, their return to Atlanta.  Both Del Taco and Shake Shack have reportedly set company sales records following their recent openings in metro Atlanta.  

Why do you think Don Antonio failed in their foray into the Atlanta market?  Who do you think makes the best Neapolitan pizza in Atlanta?  What should replace Don Antonio?  Should it be something other than a foodservice establishment?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...

there are too many neapolitan pizza restaurants in atlanta as it is. That's Atlanta's problem: if one is successful, then everyone jumps on the bandwagon. How many pizza joints do we need? How many burger joints? FroYo shops? Cupcake bakeries? Taco joints? If your restaurant didn't get there first and establish some kind of unique experience, you're out. I wish Atlanta would wake up and not build so many duplicates

Anonymous said...

Simple case of terrible location. I remember when STG first opened having to walk by several times and finally asking a passerby where it was.
Completely hidden from street
view. Owners must get cheap
rent to move into such a hidden location.

Elton said...

As these restaurants close their doors they only need to look south to Henry County & Atlanta's New South!!! The area is starving for new business & each business that does open sets new sales records for the company. Freddy's Steakburgers set a single day, week, month, & year sales record with it's McDonough Open!!! Cheddars family Restaurant McDonough is by far the #1 store in the chain. Looking for a goldmine look south to Henry County!!! Jodeco Rd McDonough is getting a new 160 acre mixed use development with open Air Mall, look south!!!

SB said...

I want to agree with Elton but there's too many exclamation marks!!!

I kid; his comment does have a lot of validity and I'm curious about the massive mixed use project he referenced.

I didn't even know this pizza place was there and I work in Buckhead and go to lunch on East Andrews every week at least once.

Bryan Marquardt said...

I just noticed the restaurant sign yesterday while driving home...too bad I find out today it's closed. oh well. Bad location.

vespajet said...

There is definitely a dearth of good places to eat here on the Southside. There are areas in Henry and Fayette and even Coweta that could support nicer establishments that aren't chains. Here in Clayton County, not so much.

Anonymous said...

Bad location is an understatement. I've lived within walking distance for 9 years and had no idea this restaurant or its predecessor was back there.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymousn 12:52 PM;

That's not "Atlanta's problem", that's called capitalism. Whenever something becomes popular you will a multitude of businesses seeking to take advantage of it.

anything said...

I don't believe Atlanta was ready for that kind of sophistication, I lived in atl for a few months, and the only world class restaurants that were worthy of world wide recognition was the gunshow and some Ethiopian restaurant, besides these two I couldn't find anything...

Give it a few more years, and some more gentrification in buckhead, and atl will be ready.

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