Sunday, September 27, 2020

[EXCLUSIVE] Mrs. Winner's Seeks Success in "Loser" Location

2020 surprises keep coming!  Opening soon in place of a former Bojangles will be none other than Mrs. Winner's!  The fledgling chicken chain, which once covered metro Atlanta and the south, will open soon in place of the former Bojangles at 8550 Roswell Road in Sandy Springs. [Before Bojangles, the building was home to  La Strada, Derby Food & Spirits  and Locos Grill & Pub, among other eateries.]  The Bojangles, a franchise of the Charlotte-based chicken chain, closed as of January 31, after a little less than five years in business.  

Mrs. Winner's, which was acquired by lawyer turned franchisor John Buttolph in 2012, has been trying in recent years to reignite interest in the brand with redesigned restaurants and a push to "Bring a Mrs. Winner's back to your hometown."

The menu at Mrs. Winner's is what you would expect from a southern fried chicken chain with plenty of chicken options along with biscuits and sides like mac & cheese and potato wedges.  One non-chicken offering for which the chain is perhaps most well known is their cinnamon rolls.  

As of 1984, there were 184 Mrs. Winner's restaurants. By 2007 that number had dropped to 113.  As of the company's 2012 bankruptcy, only 12 units remained in business. 

Today there are fourteen locations open, including six in Georgia.  The Georgia units include those at 2430 McAlpine Terrace in East Point and 4350 Fulton Industrial Boulevard in Southwest Atlanta that reopened in 2016 and 2017, respectively, after closing as Mrs. Winner's restaurants years ago.  

In an interview with Forbes in June 2016, Buttolph said "I have eight to 10 stores that we are negotiating on now. Our plan is to add 10 franchised stores a year, and for every 10 franchised stores I want to add one company-owned store."  [Sources tell ToNeTo Atlanta that Buttolph quietly sold the brand "about A year ago" and that it's new owner is Atlanta's Gourmet Services, Inc.] 

The opening in Sandy Springs marks only the fourth new unit to open since 2012.  Strangely, those potentially interested in becoming a franchisee are met with an error message when clicking on the "Franchise Opportunity" link off the main Mrs. Winner's homepage.  


If Mrs. Winner's is hoping to continue their new growth by reopening in old locations, that may prove challenging.  Many of the chain's best located former locations are now home to other restaurants or other businesses and unlike those in East Point and Southwest Atlanta, were not just sitting ready to be reopened.  

Among the former Mrs. Winner's locations in metro Atlanta that are today unavailable are those on Piedmont Road in Piedmont Heights where the chicken chain was paired with a Del Taco and where Mama's Cocina Latina operates today.  Another former combo Mrs. Winner's+Del Taco was located on Cotillion Drive in Dunwoody, where the building was demolished and rebuilt for a McDonald's several years ago.  Cook Out has opened in place of at least four former Mrs. Winner's restaurants including those in East Atlanta, Lithonia, Morrow and Rome.  Elsewhere around metro Atlanta, Elmyriachi in Kirkwood, Fresh to Order in East Cobb and Schlotzsky's in Suwanee all occupy converted former Mrs. Winner's while Advance Auto Parts on Lawrenceville Highway near North DeKalb Mall built a new building in place of a demolished former Mrs. Winner's.  

In addition to several other shuttered Bojangles around town, ToNeTo Atlanta has reported extensively in recent weeks about the surprising number of quick-serve restaurant closures in metro Atlanta during the pandemic.  More than a dozen Hardee's, Burger King, McDonald's, Wendy's, Boston Market and KFC restaurants have closed in metro Atlanta since March.  All of the shuttered restaurants come equipped with the all-important drive-thru, a feature that seems destined to become even more sought after as more restaurants: Chipotle, Jason's Deli, Panera and gusto! among them, look to the drive-thru to increase sales volumes and make their product as accessible as possible.  

Architectural rendering of what future Mrs. Winner's may look like

The opening of Mrs. Winner's in place of Bojangles, a similar concept with likely better brand recognition, is a bit odd.  The choice, too, of opening on a stretch of Roswell Road away from other quick-serve restaurants and in the northern suburbs of Atlanta will test the brand's ability to thrive in a market unlike where they are currently seeing success.  

Temporary signage is now up and the restaurant is actively hiring.  It's unclear how soon the new Mrs. Winner's will open but one would think it's entirely possible for it be sooner rather than later.  

Are you excited for the opening of Mrs. Winner's in Sandy Springs?  Do you think Mrs. Winner's will succeed where Bojangles did not?  What is your favorite fast food chicken chain?

Please share your thoughts below.  

9 comments:

Unknown said...

What is he thinking? Why can he outdo Bo, Popeyes and a few others?

Anonymous said...

Depends on their pricing. Bojangles was significantly higher than Popeyes and not as good. Publix made better chicken and it cost less. I'll give it a try. Love Fried Chicken but has to be good and not tiny pieces like KFC.

Anonymous said...

Funny, that guy does not own Mrs. Winner's. He sold it a while back. Why is "loser" in quotes in the title? I don't see any evidence that the author of this hit piece did any quality research and/or interviewed anyone. Looks like an opinion piece. The Bojangles actually did quality sales, but the operator left leaving the investor to run a restaurant without any operational experience- which is why they closed.

I don't know, maybe this blog is an opinion blog and not the news/informational RE source it used to be.

Anonymous said...

"Loser" is in the title because it is a play on words against Mrs. "Winners"
Get it? Apparently not. And most blogs come with the owner's opinions. That's kind of the point as opposed to something like the Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Anonymous said...

Got it, I didn't get it at first, but now I see the play on words. Thanks for pointing it out. Yes, blogs have opinions, and I do see that the author makes it clear that he will "call you out" in the "about" section. I digress.

Still wrong facts, though, but whatever.

B said...

I am SOOOOO excited about this classic south reopening!!!! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Missy said...

I miss mrs.winners so I’m excited about this

Unknown said...

All yall must be young....Mrs.Winners is tha bomb...and those cinnamon rolls...I will definitely be there to see if tgey kept it old school

jamie said...

I love mrs winners southern food I cant wait!

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