Monday, May 14, 2018

[NEWSFLASH] Little Alley Steak Buckhead Pushes Their Opening Again

In news that should surprise no one, the owners of Little Alley Steak will again not open their Buckhead restaurant at One Alliance Center when they said they would.  ToNeTo Atlanta chose not to make a big deal about their recent opening announcement as we feared they would again push their opening, which they have quietly done.  While other media announced in late March that Little Alley Steak Buckhead would open May 7, and later May 14, ToNeTo Atlanta has now confirmed that the restaurant is now not expected to open until "late May," according to an employee at the Roswell outpost. ToNeTo Atlanta was first to report on the restaurant's planned Buckhead debut in 2016 after which the restaurant announced a  planned July 1, 2017 debut.  
Little Alley Steak, part of Fikret Kovac and Hicham Azhari's F&H Food Trading Group, is the Buckhead edition of the group's downtown Roswell restaurant by the same name, which opened in 2012.  Salt Factory Pub, like Little Alley Steak on Canton Street in downtown Roswell, was the group's first restaurant, opening in 2008.  Later, the group added INC Street Food in 2010, Little Alley Steak in 2012, Opulent, later rebranded 1920 Tavern, in May 2013 (in place of INC), Salt Factory Alpharetta in 2013, The Real FIX Pizzeria in 2014 and Salt Factory Pub Woodstock in 2015.  The partners sold both 1920 Tavern and The Real FIX Pizzeria (now Local on North) to separate owners in 2015.

The Roswell outpost occupies a former antique shop and has the charming character that only a small town could provide.  At 9,000 square feet, the Buckhead restaurant is quite a bit larger than the original approximately 3,000 square foot restaurant, and lacks the character of the original location.  The Buckhead location's patio, recently augmented and improved, measures 2,500 square feet, which is nearly as large as the Roswell restaurant!   

Some have said that the owners let their ego get the best of them and should never have signed the lease in Buckhead.  Their niche, their "special sauce," if you will, was opening Buckhead caliber restaurants in the 'burbs.  To come to Buckhead, an uber competitive market with am abundance of steakhouse options, could prove to be their downfall.  In other words, in Buckhead, they are a little fish in big pond, whereas in Roswell, they are the exact opposite.    

Countless restaurants that have come to Buckhead failed, among them steakhouses craft, Ocean Prime and Morton's The Steakhouse, as well as Emeril's, from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, which was the original occupant of the Little Alley Buckhead space in One Alliance Center. 

Bar Americano and Bar Crema, two concepts from 10 Apart Hospitality Group, were announced this past February (six months after we learned Little Alley was opening in Buckhead)  to be opening in Buckhead.  The two opened in late November at Andrews Square in Buckhead Village, but by late April, had closed.  

It's worth mentioning, too, that unlike Roswell, where Little Alley is basically the only game in town, Buckhead is already home to ten steak-heavy restaurants, not to mention Arnette's Chop Shop from local restaurateur Michel Arnette, which is expected to open May 24th in Brookhaven. 

Among the dozen or so steak-heavy restaurants in Buckhead already are a variety of local eateries, as well as regional and national chains such as New York Prime, Davio's Northern Italian Steakhouse, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Hal's on Old Ivy, Sage Woodfire Tavern, The Palm, Del Frisco's Grille, Bone's, The Capital Grille, Chops Lobster Bar, American Cut, Fogo de Chão  and Chama Gaucha.  

The patio at Little Alley Steak Buckhead 
Some industry observers have said that the Little Alley Steak space, which is highly visible from Lenox Road, is actually not ideally located, and will face issues in attracting evening diners given its location amid offices and awful traffic.  Aja, the most recent restaurant to occupy the One Alliance space, devolved into more of a lounge than a restaurant, relying increasingly on its bar to generate revenue.  

Unlike McDonald's and Burger King, QuikTrip and RaceTrac, & Publix and Kroger, all of whom prefer to be close to their competition, Little Alley Steak electing to be so close to so many competitors is a far riskier move.

Perhaps the owners should take a page from the owners of Chamblee's Southbound restaurant who in 2013, when asked about their oft-delayed opening, eventually told us they "should be open Tuesday (exact Tuesday TBD.)"  While it's bad to do so in other areas of business and life, over-promising and under-delivering in the hospitality industry is perhaps the worst of all.  

The Little Alley Steak website currently indicates Buckhead is "Coming Soon..." 

Do you think the owners of Little Alley Steak made a mistake in opting to expand to Buckhead?  What is your favorite steakhouse in Buckhead?  When do you think Little Alley Steak will open?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...

Do you not get laid enough? Seriously, so much anger because a restaurant likely experiences unforeseen issues out of their control and you use it as an opportunity to tell them how stupid they are for expanding. If you have all the answers, why don't you go into consulting. Or open your own business. Instead of just hollering about others on a blog.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a personal and biased attack, rather than objective reporting. So much for positive energy towards new development!

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a personal and biased attack against the owners. What ever happened to wishing new ventures and development well?!?

Anonymous said...

I don't think any of the post is unfair or untrue. If anything, there's even more competition than reported. Bones, Fogo and Ruth's Chris are also there in Buckhead. They have a very tough hill to climb.....

Just Curious said...

"Some have said that the owners let their ego get the best of them and should never have signed the lease in Buckhead."

Can you provide a link or something to back up these comments? If not, it just comes across as gossip or a way for you to present your own opinion while making it sound factual. It's a lot like the current president's habit of saying "People are saying..."

Anonymous said...

I see nothing wrong with the reporting.
It does look silly when a business keeps saying we are opening this date and then have to change it and then change it again.
YES we all know that things pop up that one can not foresee, so the smart ones add a few weeks to their target open date.
Pretty simple!

Anonymous said...

Another upscale steak restaurant with upscale prices. Little gem in Brookhaven (a hop skip and jump from Buckhead) with one of the best steaks in town, without the Buckhead prices...Jo's Grille...on Johnson Ferry Rd. Just sayin'

Anonymous said...

@ anonymous 1,2 and 3 ...

Leave Eli alone!

Use your own advice - if you don't like it then start your own blog! Move on!!

Thank you Eli!

Anonymous said...

I think the basic analysis is correct. Can Little Alley really make it in Buckhead? The Little Alley Buckhead location is completely different than the Roswell location- walkable, not walkable, small & intimate vs. large, character vs. office building. It seems to me destined to fail. However, I do take issue with the idea that North Fulton has no other high end steakhouse competition. While North Fulton is not as intense as a business traveler/business dinner location, North Fulton has many higher-end steakhouse competitors to Little Alley- Oak Steakhouse, Viande Rouge, Ruth Chris and Pampas to name a few. Having dined at Bones and Chops several times I can say that several of these are worthy competitors.

Anonymous said...

TBH I think have these comments are the same poster. The truth hurts!

DT said...

Anyone who has ever tried to get a liquor license in Buckhead has probably nodded wisely over the delay. Been there, done that. It's as if the Mayor's office thinks making resterateurs sweat is a good thing to do.

Maybe the owners of Little Alley know what they are doing, maybe they don't- but the OP does seem a little personally bitter toward them.

Anonymous said...

As a tenant of the One Alliance Center, the delay is bothersome. It's been a year since we heard the news about Little Alley. We can't be more excited. Apparently they may be opening tomorrow...word on the street (or should I say "in the building!") I can tell you from my perspective, I think it will do very well. As a local business that has had so many lunches/events at South City Kitchen in the past year, it's really refreshing to hear we are getting a nice steakhouse on our side of North Buckhead. Yes there is plenty of competition going south on Peachtree, but given our lovely Atlanta traffic, this location is much more ideal for this financial side of town. I think they will do just fine with all the banks in the surrounding buildings. I would imagine JP Morgan alone will have a regular standing reservation for business dinners. Plus, the patio blows all the competition away...we all know how Atlantans love a patio and I've never seen a patio at Bones, have you? If anything, I'd be scared if I WAS one of the other steakhouses. Little Alley's reputation proceeds them - GREAT FOOD, STELLAR SERVICE - and all those Buckhead Betties who won't go OTP will be lining up to finally see what all the hype is about -and realize it's not hype.

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