Thursday, October 1, 2020

[EXCLUSIVE] Tavern at Phipps Does Not Plan to Reopen at Phipps Plaza

It appears that the Tavern at Phipps will not be reopening at Phipps Plaza in Buckhead.  The restaurant, a mainstay at the posh Buckhead mall for nearly 30 years, closed as of March 23 due the COVID-19 pandemic.  Despite sibling Atlanta area CentraArchy restaurants Joey D's Oak Room and New York Prime reopening, the Tavern has remain closed, with their patio furniture now in use by their steakhouse sibling.  Sources close to the restaurant and others in the restaurant community tell ToNeTo Atlanta that a lease dispute with landlord Simon Property Group (SPG) is what led to the closure. 

The Tavern has been a popular happy hour spot at Phipps for decades and its attractive, largely female waitstaff has won it awards and frequent visits from businessmen and travelers in the area.  Food-wise the restaurant may have been most well known for their housemade chips served several different ways including salmon, Thai [chicken] and BBQ Chicken varieties.  The Tavern also had a pastrami Reuben, a sandwich they called "famous" and one that is not found in many places in Buckhead.  

If in fact the Tavern does not reopen - a deal with Simon could happen - it would mark the second Atlanta area COVID-related CentraArchy closure following that of California Dreaming in Duluth.  The Tavern would also be one of the first restaurants in metro Atlanta to close during the pandemic and because of the pandemic, rather than having already been struggling and the pandemic merely being the final nail in the coffin.

ToNeTo Atlanta made inquiries with representatives of Phipps Plaza management, none of which were fruitful. [SPG discontinued their contract with an Atlanta-based PR firm earlier this year after more than two decades and in the months since, has been far less responsive/available.]  Multiple employees at CentrArchy who spoke to ToNeTo Atlanta on condition of anonymity indicated the company "currently has no plans to reopen the Tavern."  

SPG, owner of both Phipps Plaza and Lenox Square as well as dozens of other malls around the country, has also (for now) halted development of One Phipps Plaza, a redevelopment of the former Belk at the mall, which was set to add a new Nobu Hotel and restaurant, Life Time Athletic, Pinstripes, office building and more to the mall property.  

The pandemic has caused many Buckhead area workplaces to remain closed.  The lack of office workers has caused a steep decline in foot traffic, especially at lunch, with Tavern just one of several restaurants that has remained closed.  Grand Lux Cafe, a sibling eatery of The Cheesecake Factory, as well as Davio's, a Boston-based Italian steakhouse, both remain closed, but sources close to each indicate there are plans to reopen.  

Davio's has in recent months shuttered locations in Irvine, California and New York City, but owner Steve DiFillippo reportedly has a good relationship with Simon Property Group CEO David Simon and has plans to reopen at Phipps Plaza in October, according to a source familiar with the restaurateur's plans.  Grand Lux, which opened at Phipps in August 2018, also reportedly has plans to reopen.  Herbert Simon is the Chairman Emeritus of the board at Simon Property Group, Inc., but also sits on the board of The Cheesecake Factory.  It is believed that these relationships may be providing greater flexibility for the aforementioned restaurants than for local concepts like Tavern.  

That said, it's worth mentioning that Agency Socialthèque has reopened at the mall, and a third location of popular Atlanta bakery cafe Alon's is under construction, too. The Peachtree facing space adjacent to Agency that housed Genuine Pizza until their January 2019 closure remains vacant.  

Are you surprised to hear about the closure of The Tavern at Phipps?  What is your favorite Buckhead area restaurant?  If The Tavern does not reopen at Phipps Plaza, what would you like to see open in its place?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Jim said...

Mall owners who don't work closely with their tenants, to help them stay open in the Covid era, are shortsighted and ignorant. May their malls fail.

Anonymous said...

Wow - terrible news. Always been a fan of the Tavern, both for its happy hour energy and its food which was always way better than you'd expect from such a place.

Anonymous said...

This has to be a ploy to renegotiate their lease. T@P is ALWAYS busy - despite how douchy the clientele and hostesses are :-)

Ham said...

Sad to hear this. I always enjoyed eating there after shopping or seeing a movie at Phipps. Since Simon has made it their mission to cheapen Phipps with places like Lego land and the closure of a really beautiful Food Court I fear they may replace the Tavern with a Taco Bell.

Hwz said...

Awful. The Tavern is an Atlanta institution. Please don’t leave us!

Anonymous said...

NOT sorry The Tavern closed! Never liked it there! Crappie, fried garbage masking as food! For years, only one, or two things I could tolerate. Only good thing I can say is....was a cool environment, dark interiors, and really beautiful girls! My husband and his buddies loved it!
I hope and wish something really upscale will move in there, and SOMEHOW...elevate the mall back to the status it once was. But, no chance of that with EVERYTHING going on in Buckhead, and no law and order. A monumental shame!!

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