Friday, July 3, 2020

[EXCLUSIVE] Zoës Kitchen Permanently Closes Four Atlanta Locations

In a quiet COVID-19 related move,  Zoës Kitchen has permanently shuttered six Atlanta area locations and a total of eight locations in Georgia.  The restaurants, located in Decatur, East Cobb, West Cobb, Emory Johns Creek, Sandy Springs, Athens & Augusta, are all marked "CLOSED" on the Zoës website and employees at the remaining Atlanta area restaurants confirm that the closures are indeed permanent.  
The eight four restaurants that closed in Georgia all opened within the past several years, with the oldest unit being the East Cobb outpost which opened in 2012, and the newest one being in The Plaza at City Springs which opened in 2018 on the site of the old American Pie restaurant & bar along Roswell Road, just north of I-285.  

The eight four Georgia Zoës Kitchen locations that have closed and the year that they opened:

Merchant's Exchange Shopping Center - East Cobb (2012) 
Emory Village - Emory (2013) - REOPENED
Alps Road - Athens (2013) REOPENED
Johns Creek Promenade - Johns Creek (2015)
Washington Crossing - Augusta (2015) REOPENED
Decatur Crossing - Decatur (2017) - REOPENED
Parkside West Cobb - West Cobb (2017) 
The Plaza at City Springs - Sandy Springs (2018) 

In many cases, leases Zoës signed in Atlanta [and elsewhere] were "unsustainable," according to one local real estate broker we spoke to in preparing this post.   Zoës spaces were often in prime locations, measured about 2,800 square feet and came with incredibly high rents as a result.   

Founded in Birmingham, Alabama in 1995, Zoës was taken public in 2014 and moved its headquarters to Plano, Texas.  In 2018, the company was acquired by competing quick-serve restaurant Cava with financial backing from Ron Shaich, founder and former CEO of Panera Bread.  At the time of the acquisition, Zoës was a 261 unit chain.  

Today, Zoës is described as being a chain of "more than 250 restaurants." 
That said, and using the same pattern in Atlanta - restaurants marked "CLOSED" on the Zoës website - at least 40 other other units across the country may also have closed permanently in recent weeks.  

One location, in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, publicly announced their closure in mid-March ahead of a March 20th closure.  

Some shuttered locations such as those in Nottingham and Owings Mills, Maryland which closed in late 2019 and early 2020 respectively, became Cava, with the former having already reopened and the latter upcoming.  Another, at Foothills Mall in Fort Collins, Colorado, closed this past May with signage now indicating that Cava is "coming soon" to replace it.  

There is zero indication that any of the shuttered Atlanta area Zoës will reopen as Cava.  Instead, sources familiar with the company's plans indicate that Cava may seek to convert some of the well-performing Zoës in metro Atlanta into Cava.  [Cava had previously planned to enter the Atlanta market but likely changed course once it purchased Zoës Kitchen and inherited some of their prized intown locations such as those at Tuxedo Festival and Peachtree Battle in Buckhead.]

More than a dozen Zoës Kitchens remain open in Georgia including outposts in Buckhead (2), Alpharetta, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Duluth, Perimeter and smaller markets like Macon, Cumming and Woodstock.  

Are you surprised that Zoës closed so many Atlanta area locations?  What would you like to see open in place of the shuttered Atlanta area Zoës Kitchen restaurants?  Have you ever been to Cava?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...

Zoe's is good (not great) but there was no location close enough to make it a regular stop. Cava is an amazing unique concept. I think they would do well in Atlanta despite the presence of not quite copycat Gusto. Cava would be worth the drive.

amasova said...

Cava is awesome! I eat there often when I go visit family in Maryland. I think it will do well here. I have been hoping for them to expand to Atlanta.

Anonymous said...

"That said" might be some kind of spoken convention, but it's not a written one. Kindly replace it with: 'in light of this', 'nonetheless', 'given these facts' or some better bit of verbiage.

gramma nazi

Kat said...

when Zoe's first came to ATL it was really good. we loved their steak kabobs with roasted veggies and rice pilaf. then someone changed the menu and rice pilaf was gone in favor of tumeric rice. it was never as good and we stopped eating there.

Anonymous said...

They change the menu all the time! They got rid of many of their vegan items and clearly don't mark the ones they have left on their menu. Tried to order from them a few weeks ago and the menu had changed again. And even items that were still on the menu had been tweaked so that you didn't get what you had gotten before.

Anonymous said...

I heard the rumor that Cava was coming to Atlanta. I wasn't aware of the Zoe's connection but I am quite excited for the change. Like the other posters mentioned, Zoe's has gone downhill in the past few years. Cava is an amazing restaurant and much needed in the ATL area.

Magnolia said...

The three Zoe's we used were, Peachtree Battle, Roswell Road, and Brookhaven. We used Brookhaven most often. Residents in the Brookhaven area were very disappointed in that closure. It seemed well-frequented. Other locations are rather far for us. Not many healthy choices in Brookhaven. Want our Zoe's back.

Anonymous said...

CAVA sucks over priced Chipotle style food. Everything is shipped in not homemade like Zoe’s restaurants. Cava is destroying an amazing dining concept.

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