Thursday, September 23, 2021

[MANGIA!] North Italia Heads South For New Atlanta Location

North Italia will enter the Atlanta market next year with a restaurant planned for Lenox Square in Buckhead.  According to a permit filed with the City of Atlanta Thursday, the Italian restaurant plans to spend an estimated $1.5 million to convert a roughly 5,500 square foot space at the mall.  Although the exact space, which is described as including a patio, is not identified, sources close to the mall tell ToNeTo Atlanta that the restaurant will open at the front of the mall in place of Zinburger, which closed last year. 

The Atlanta Zinburger as well as seventeen others on the East Coast were operated by Livingston, New Jersey's The Briad Group, but most closed last year followed by the final three a short time later.  Sam Fox, creator of not only North Italia but also True Food Kitchen, Zinburger, Flower Child and more than a half dozen other concepts, sold his Fox Restaurant Concepts company to Calabasas, California-based The Cheesecake Factory in 2019.  (True Food Kitchen was not included in the sale as it was majority sold to P.F. Chang's in 2012.)  

The menu at North is centered on fresh-made pizza and pastas but also includes assorted small plates and salads as well as entrée dishes like braised short rib, chicken parmesan and roasted salmon among other options, with some items either seasonal or location specific.  North is open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch with offerings such as glazed Italian doughnut French toast and short rib hash, among other options.  

Real estate sources have told ToNeTo Atlanta since at least 2019 that North Italia was looking to enter the Atlanta market.  At one time, the restaurant was linked to City Springs in Sandy Springs where it would have been paired with fellow Fox Concept Flower Child, which did open in the project.  North has also reportedly shown interest in several projects around Perimeter Mall which likely includes Ashford Place and High Street, among others. 

First introduced in Fox's home market of Phoenix in 2002, North has today expanded to 28 locations with a 29th "coming soon" to West Sand Lake Road in Orlando, its third in the Sunshine State.  This past March, North opened in Birmingham's The Summit development, and also operates locations in Nashville and Franklin, Tennessee, as well as Charlotte, NC.  

Atlanta-based Roark Capital Group, owner of dozens of restaurants ranging from Moe's Southwest Grill and Arby's to Auntie Anne's and Jimmy John's, took a $200 million equity stake in The Cheesecake Factory (NASDAQ: CAKE) in June of last year as restaurants searched for liquidity to remain afloat as the pandemic raged.  This past June, however, Cheesecake spent $457 million to buy back most of Roark's stake, leaving Roark founder and Managing Partner Neal Aronson with a 4.6% stake and Roark President Paul Ginsburg remaining on Cheesecake's board.  

In Buckhead, North Italia joins parent company The Cheesecake Factory at the front of Lenox Square as well as sibling concepts Flower Child at The Shops Around Lenox and Grand Lux Café at Phipps Plaza

Have you ever been to North Italia?  What is your favorite Italian restaurant...ever? Where else in metro Atlanta would you like to see North Italia open?  

Please share your thoughts below. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You have to be crazy to start a restaurant at Lenox Square with all the violence and shootings. I wish you well that I won’t be seeing you there

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