Thursday, June 9, 2022

[UPDATE] Mall of Georgia and Surrounding Areas

It had been a while since ToNeTo Atlanta visited the Mall of Georgia, and while things are basically the same, we did note several new developments in and around the Buford mall.  Opened August 13, 1999, Mall of Georgia is owned and managed by Simon Property Group, and today includes anchors Von Maur (former Nordstrom), Macy's, Dillard's, Belk (former Lord & Taylor), JCPenney, Havertys Furniture, Barnes & Noble, Dick's Sporting Goods (former Galyan's), and Regal Cinemas. 

Fat Tuesday, a chain specializing in New Orleans-inspired frozen drinks, is opening a small outpost in the food court at the Mall of Georgia.  The space, which sits against the wall that leads to "The Village," has been several businesses over the years.  The new Mall of Georgia outpost will mark the second Fat Tuesday in Atlanta following the brand's early 2021 debut at The Battery Atlanta at Truist Park.  

Also coming to the Mall of Georgia food court is Steak Up, a Florida-based fast casual Brazilian Steakhouse.  The concept currently has two locations open in Orlando: Doctor Phillips on West Sand Lake Road and at the Florida Mall, with the Buford outpost marking the brand's entry into Georgia.  Although less expensive than a traditional Brazilian steakhouse, the prices listed for the restaurant's current locations definitely seem to put it far beyond typical food court fare in both quality and price.  Current menu offerings include an 8 ounce Filet Mignon for $24.95, 8 ounce lamb chops for $22.95 and a 6 ounce vegan burger for $18.95.   Each entree is served with two sides and "exclusive" chimi sauce.  

Abercrombie & Fitch sibling brand Hollister is reopening at the Mall of Georgia after having closed in 2021.  The space does not feature a barrage of coming soon branding, but the space did feature several "coming soon" signs and a table out front with hiring materials.  The Hollister store and Abercrombie & Fitch stores at the Mall of Georgia closed at the same time the company closed Abercombie & Fitch, abercrombie kids and Hollister stores at North Point Mall in Alpharetta.  The former Abercrombie & Fitch at the Mall of Georgia is today Stoneage, a store specializing in rare and collectible stones and rocks.  

Amazingly, the Apple store, located on the mall's second floor, remains in the rather small space that it originally occupied when it debuted shortly after the launch of the first iPhone in 2007.  Online materials indicate that the store is about 4,600 square feet, but the store seems incredibly undersized for the traffic it generates.  Apple has in recent years relocated and expanded its stores in Perimeter Mall in Dunwoody and Lenox Square in Buckhead as well as relocated its North Point Mall store to a larger space at Avalon in Alpharetta.  The company's Cumberland Mall store, which opened in 2014, is more than 7,000 square feet, and in our opinion, is close in size to what the Mall of Georgia store should be.  

OFFLINE by Aerie, a new athleisure line from American Eagle's Aerie brand, opened its first standalone store in metro Atlanta this past November at the Mall of Georgia.  The store, located on the mall's first floor, is situated across the hallway from Aerie and carries the brand's complete line of athleisure wear for women and girls.  A combination Aerie/OFFLINE by Aerie store is slated to open late this fall at Avalon in Alpharetta.  

Lids U, a new college-oriented retail concept from headwear retailer Lids, will open a new storefront on the first floor of Mall of Georgia, not far from Dillard's.  

Outside the mall, we noted several significant vacancies including a former Rooms To Go and a nearby former O'Charley's restaurant.  The former Rooms To Go was left vacant in 2021 when the furniture retailer relocated to a new, multi-concept store at The Exchange at Gwinnett, on the other side of I-85 from the mall.  O'Charley's, as we have reported previously, has closed more than two dozen restaurants chain-wide in recent years including several in greater metro Atlanta.  The Buford location, situated just off Buford Drive in an outparcel of the mall, reportedly closed in 2020 and is currently being marketed by Simon Property Group, which owns the site.  

Across from the mall, at 3300 Buford Drive, a former Arby's has been demolished to make way for the greater metro Atlanta area's first Raising Cane's.  The restaurant, which ToNeTo Atlanta exclusively reported on this past December, is slated to open late this year and is to be followed by several other restaurants in the market.  

Not far from the upcoming Raising Cane's, a Bruster's Real Ice Cream that has been closed and fenced in for more than a year will reportedly reopen as a Bruster's after its building is some point.  

Crumbl Cookies, which has been expanding aggressively throughout the country as well as the greater metro Atlanta area, is under construction with a new location at Mall of Georgia Crossing.  The cookie shop, between T.J. Maxx/HomeGoods and Carter's in what was most recently Motherhood Maternity, occupies a 2,400 square foot space. Despite earlier word that it would open in June, seems more than a month away from opening with plenty of retail debris from its prior use in piles within the space.  

On the back side of the mall, at the corner of Mall of Georgia Boulevard and Woodward Crossing Boulevard, work is well underway on "The POINTE," the latest phase of the mixed-use ARISTON project.   The POINTE will span approximately 26,000 square feet and will bring new dining options to the project.  The POINTE joins two new "luxury" residential communities:  The Ivy at Ariston as well as The Enzo at Ariston. In addition, a 109-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel is expected to open in 2023.  Restaurant wise, Tequila Mama Taqueria will occupy the largest space at The POINTE in a 6,350 square foot building with outdoor seating and a rooftop bar and lounge. Already a popular staple in nearby Suwanee, Tequila Mama Taqueria specializes in a multi-cultural menu of tacos, bowls, tapas and entrĂ©e plates. Sister restaurant to Tequila Mama, Local Tap, a craft-heavy taphouse featuring food trucks on a rotating schedule, will open its inaugural location at ARISTON in a 4,200 square foot building. Flying Biscuit Cafe will debut its 16th metro Atlanta location when it opens in early 2023 in a 3,500 square foot space. Revolving Sushi Factory will bring "Conveyor Belt Sushi" to a 4,000 square foot space, while locally owned VeGreen will brand vegetarian fusion to a 3,000 square foot space.

Over at Fuqua Development's The Exchange at Gwinnett, several new restaurants are under construction where they will join anchors Rooms To Go, Sprouts Farmers Market, Andretti's Indoor Karting & Games, and Topgolf.  Among the restaurants we noted were well underway were Gusto and Hacienda, with a new Popeyes basically done and Bubba's 33, a growing brand from Texas Roadhouse, targeting an August debut.  Whataburger, Central City Tavern and a multi-concept food court are also expected to join the dining options in the center that already includes JINYA Ramen Bar, Five Guys, MOD Pizza, Starbucks, The Halal Guys, Jersey Mike's Subs, Wingstop and Planet Smoothie.

Hattie Marie's Texas Style BBQ & Cajun Kitchen, which was to open a new location at The Exchange at Gwinnett seems unlikely to do so.  The locally owned restaurant with a single Atlanta area location open in College Park announced an aggressive expansion plan in 2020 that was to include three new Atlanta area locations in addition to an existing outpost in Hurst, Texas, not far from Dallas-Fort Worth.  A location opened at the Courtyard Atlanta Decatur Downtown June 25 2021, but closed quietly about a month ago according to an employee at the hotel.  The Hurst location in Texas has been closed since February 1 for "upgrades and renovations," and according to its official Instagram page, was slated to reopen in "2 weeks or so," about two weeks ago.  A new Atlanta area location is under construction at 715 Industrial Boulevard in McDonough where it is replacing Maritza and Frank's Southern Cooking.  A restaurant representative indicated on social media that the restaurant would open on Memorial Day, but that did not happen.

When was the last time you visited Mall of Georgia?  Did you know that there is a more than three mile greenway near the mall called the Ivy Creek Greenway?  What is your favorite OTP mall or shopping center?

Please share your thoughts below.  

***Stay tuned for an exciting East Cobb area update soon!***


Anonymous said...

The last time I visited Mall of Georgia was in Dec 2021. I would go more often but it's a 25 mile drive on 85 and I don't feel like dealing with the drive. I think it is definitely the best mall in the Atlanta area.

Ham said...

I went there not long after it open just to see what all the fuss was about. At the time it seemed nice, but no reason to go back. My favorite OTP mall is Perimeter.

I do wonder about the level of planning in Gwinnett and the outer burbs as a whole. You mentioned closed spaces and at the same time new construction. I realize not all locations are a good fit for ever new business, but I think we could do better. Like a lot of places OTP it is often easier and faster to build new, but then they end up with lots of half empty shopping centers. This is good for the developers, but bad for the communities.

Richard said...

100%, Ham. It's really bad for our communities to keep abandoning existing centers and building a shiny new toy all of the time. While it may seem impossible, it's entirely possible that MOG could be the next Gwinett Place in 10-20 years.

Skrybe said...

We live in Lawrenceville, so we go up there pretty often. Take the kids to the water fountains and the outdoor playground in front of the mall. I'm glad they're adding more in the area. Having more options on our side of town is always great to hear.

Anonymous said...

Sure ….

Anonymous said...

To Ham & Richard's point, correct, the retailing environment has changed drastically with e-commerce since MOG was opened roughly 22 years ago as probably the last stand-alone mega mall in the state. The demand for such a vast tract of retail space does not exist anymore in the current environment and is better off if vacant areas are re-purposed to attract more diverse businesses. Simon could re-imagine of the property to become office space like Northlake has done with Emory Healthcare having recently signed a lease and taken over the former Sears and Kohl's wing (albeit rather slowly).

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