Tuesday, January 16, 2018

[EXCLUSIVE] Chopt Sees Green in Buckhead

New York City based Chopt Creative Salad Co. will soon make its highly anticipated entry into the Atlanta market.  With numerous job postings on various career sites in Atlanta, Chopt is preparing for what sources say will be a late second quarter debut.  The job postings indicate that Chopt is hiring an Assistant Commissary Manager as well as an
Assistant General Manager, among other positions.  

While it's unclear where exactly the commissary will be located (it's likely ITP), a site plan for Tuxedo Festival indicates that Chop't is coming soon to north Buckhead center.  ToNeTo Atlanta has heard for months that Chopt would open in the former inline Regions Bank in the shopping center near the corner of Roswell and Piedmont Roads, but the updated site plan finally confirms the plans.  The approximately 3,000 square foot space has been vacant since the Birmingham-based bank consolidated its Buckhead operations into single, larger branch in early 2015.  

In Tuxedo Festival, Chopt joins Zo√ęs Kitchen, Duck Donuts, Marcello's and Gallery Cafe & Grill in the center.  Once popular Tuxedo Festival restaurant Flip Burger Boutique closed its roughly 4,100 square foot space in the center last month after seven years in business. 

Tuxedo Festival is also already home to Row House Fitness, and will later this spring will welcome Solcioty Fitness, an Orangetheory Fitness type of studio.  

Founded in 2001 by college friends Tony Shure and Colin McCabe, Chopt has become a leader in the premium salad segment, and has expanded from its original location in New York City’s Union Square to include 38 locations in New York City, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Connecticut, suburban Westchester, New York, suburban Maryland and North Carolina.  Chopt's Charlotte location, in the historic Park Road shopping center, is, like Tuxedo Festival, owned by real estate firm Edens. 

Chopt's core menu features 14 Classics, 3 rotating Seasonal Specials, 25 homemade small-batch dressings, and limited-time-only “Super Seasonals” that feature local produce only at its peak.

In Atlanta, Chopt joins a growing number of open or opening salad focused concepts from both local and national operators.   

Despite the struggles of local concepts like Dressed (entire concept gone) and Doc Greens (nearly entire concept gone), other upstarts like Wildleaf and upbeet are thriving in Buckhead and the Westside, respectively.  Fresh to Order has also grown locally, expanding from a single location in Midtown in 2006 to nine locations around metro Atlanta and another five in other states.  

Houston, Texas-based Salata entered the Atlanta market last year with locations in Atlantic Station and Sandy Springs with a third location expected to open Thursday February 1 at Providence Square in East Cobb.  Other locations are planned for Liberty Village in Alpharetta, Peachtree Corners Town Center in Norcross, "The Hub" (Peachtree Center) downtown and possibly Toco Hills.  Salata is basically a scaled down, higher priced Sweet Tomatoes, making it one of the least innovative concepts to have entered the market.  

About ten years ago, Boca Raton-based Tossed had a short lived location in Decatur near Ted's Montana Grill on West Ponce de Leon Avenue, while more recent upstarts like Sweetgreen and Tender Greens have not yet put Atlanta on their expansion lists.  

Scottsdale, Arizona-based Grabbagreen, which  in 2016 announced franchise plans for at least three locations in Atlanta, has thus far opened none.  Franchisee Lauren Ramsey had previously targeted the site that Saladworks has since secured in Brighten Park, as well as space in the street level portion of the new Hanover Perimeter apartment complex, but neither deal ever came to fruition.  Both sites were listed last year as "coming soon" on the Grabbagreen website, but today both of them are gone and there is no mention of any locations coming to Georgia anywhere on the site.  

Conshohocken, Pennsylvania-based Saladworks announced plans last fall for both corporate and franchise locations in metro Atlanta.  The first two confirmed locations will be in Brighten Park (fka Loehmann's Plaza) and at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.  Additionally, the company was said to be "reviewing real estate options in Cumming, Alpharetta, Peachtree, Sandy Springs, Perimeter, Buckhead, Midtown and Toco Hills."

Flower Child, the "baby sister" of Phoenix-based Fox Restaurant Concept's True Food Kitchen, is also coming to Atlanta.  As ToNeTo Atlanta was first to report last June, Flower Child will open in a portion of the former American Apparel at Shops Around Lenox in Buckhead.  The restaurant, which is expected to open this coming spring, is essentially a quick-serve, scaled down, version of True Food Kitchen.  Sources say that the company is looking to expand the concept locally with at least one additional location already in the works.  

Sources tell ToNeTo Atlanta that Chopt, which does not franchise, is also looking at adding additional locations in Peachtree Corners and the Dunwoody/Sandy Springs area.  

Have you ever been to Chopt?  Who do think currently offers the best overall salad options in Atlanta?  Where should Chopt open next?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...

Here it comes. They will build too many salad places, just like previous coffee, pizza, tacos, and burger joints. Looks like several companies are beginning the expensive painful process of learning Atlanta is very different from NYC, Chicago, Charlotte, Dallas, etc. Best of luck to all the newcomers.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the smartest moves I have seen in a while. Been waiting for a Chopt for years, even looked into trying to franchise it. The stores in NYC print money, lines down the block for a $13 chicken caesar salad because they run a knife through it. Brilliant. Don't understand why there aren't more copycats.

Anonymous said...

Coming from NY, chopt is the best salad place and will do well in this area. Their process of chopping the salad is much better than just throwing ingredients together in a bowl and serving it. not sure why others haven't copied that technique. excited for this addition. Have tried Salata, that is pretty good as well

Anonymous said...

Chopped Salads are nothing new. Commenters 9:50 and 9:51 will be moving back to NYC when they find Atlanta won't support all the concepts they are accustomed to. Stop moving to locations you feel are beneath your lifestyle.

Big Al said...

I don't understand why Eden's continues to lease more space in that center to restaurants, or more accurately why restaurants continue to lease space there. The parking is already horrific, and if the demand is as much as advertised, this will only continue to get worse.

As for the concept, sounds interesting. I will drive through to hopefully try it, but will only circle the lot once or twice before moving on elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Just a thought here from someone who visited the Chopt in Charlotte recently and who also has lived in ATL for 30+ years...

Saying salads won't work in ATL is a bit shallow, dont you think? Oh gosh, Atlanta will never eat healthy food! Have you ever been to Upbeet? Have you ever been to True Food? by the way..... Upbeet is a knock off of Chopt and their competitor Sweetgreen. Chopt has been around 20+ years and the staff at Upbeat straight up told me one time when i asked about their inspiration, that they were trying to emulate Chopt and Sweetgreen. This is NOT a build-your-own salad type place. I'll take the OG.

These salads are straight up high quality meals. I can't wait to be a regular.

....And to those of you concerned about parking, where is parking NOT an issue in Buckhead. Clearly Flip is out the door specifically to make room for this.

Anonymous said...

"Saying salads won't work in ATL is a bit shallow, dont you think? Oh gosh, Atlanta will never eat healthy food!"

Most salads served at these places are NOT healthy, they are loaded with more calories and saturated fats than burgers, fries and pizza. Look at kale based salads, to be palatable and not have the texture of leather they have to load it down with some of the most unhealthy items on the planet. Besides, NYC and Chicago patrons WALK, while ATL have to drive and put their fat behind's in automobiles.

Stop living in DENIAL about restaurants like Chopt, Upbeet, etc being healthier than burgers or pizza. EDUCATE yourselves!

Anonymous said...

"Stop living in DENIAL about restaurants like Chopt, Upbeet, etc being healthier than burgers or pizza. EDUCATE yourselves!"

Last I checked, nobody eats a restaurant. In all seriousness, though, you are correct that there is nothing inherently "healthier" about a salad restaurant than anywhere else. It's all about the way that people choose to eat once they're in those places.

At a place like Chopt, Upbeet, TF, etc, you do, however, have the opportunity to find more variety with the ability to eat healthy in most cases than the places you mentioned.

If i decide to mix my lettuce with quinoa, add crispy chicken, tortilla strips, etc, and then moderately or heavily dress the salad, you're right... might as well eat a burger and maybe fries too.

Atlanta just doesn't have anything like this with enough scale to truly know if the market will embrace it or not, but the demographics and psychographics of the population indicate that we have a lot of young. health-conscious eaters who want what they perceive as higher quality offerings; whether they choose to actually eat healthy there or not.

Anonymous said...

Cant we all just get along?

While I agree that another burger spot, another taco spot, another pizza spot, or another salad spot is saturating the restaurant market, I lived in DC and Chopt has a huge following, myself included. It isnt just another short-lived trendy restaurant, they have a solid track record behind them and the fact they are just now considering moving into the Atlanta market speaks volumes considering that they went to Charlotte first.

Anonymous said...

Chopt is the Starbucks of salad - expensive and caloric


Anonymous said...

This location is odd. Seems to me that a better location would be one that would be able to generate traffic from the business lunch crowd, as well as weekend crowds.

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