Monday, June 5, 2023

[WOW] Burger King to Open New Dunwoody Restaurant

At a time when it seems Burger King has lost its way and the company announcing that hundreds of restaurants will close this year, one franchisee is doubling down and investing in the future of the brand.  GPS Hospitality, an Atlanta-based operator of nearly 500 units, plans to scrape and rebuild their existing Dunwoody area Burger King at 4537 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, just off I-285 and close to Georgetown shopping center.

The existing Burger King was built in 1976 and spans 3,383 square feet, according to DeKalb County property records.  The new Burger King will be smaller, just 2,765 square feet, and will debut the brand's latest design and branding elements.  The new restaurant will move slightly from its current positioning and be oriented towards the center of the roughly 1.4 acre parcel and will also feature a double drive-thru.  

As noted, GPS operates nearly 500 restaurants - including Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Pizza Hut - but Burger King units represent the majority of their holdings.  That said, the company has in recent years closed several Atlanta area Burger King restaurants including those in Chamblee, Dunwoody VillageNorcross and Kennesaw, among others.  Other franchisees have closed restaurants in Roswell, Marietta, East Cobb and Cumming, among other locations. 

The rebuilding of the Dunwoody restaurant is a testament not only to GPS's faith in the Burger King brand, but also their confidence in the local market.   In recent years, rivals McDonald's and Wendy's, in partnership with their franchisees, have both executed significant renovations and updates.  

To be sure, the renovations of both burger rivals have yielded mixed results.  McDonald's has largely been mocked for their "plainification" of their restaurants resulting in numerous memes poking fun at the changes.  

Wendy's, on the other hand, has been largely praised for their "image activation" renovations of their restaurants, which modernized the restaurants while still allowing them to have character. 

Leading the "Reclaim the Flame" effort at Burger King is Patrick Doyle.  Lured out of retirement in 2022, Doyle previously spent eight years in the top spot at Domino's and is credited with reinvigorating the brand and the sales of its franchise partners.  During his time at the helm of Domino's (2010 to 2018), Doyle delivered 29 consecutive quarters of same-store sale increases, and system-wide sales growth of $5.6 billion to $13 billion.  

Restaurant Brands International (RBI), parent company of not only Burger King but also Tim Hortons, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Firehouse Subs,  paid Doyle $117 million in stock and option awards in 2022 as an incentive to become the company’s executive chairman.  The Toronto-based company indicated that Doyle is not taking a salary and that he is not eligible for bonuses.  Instead, Doyle invested $30 million into RBI stock as part of the deal and agreed to hold his investment in the company for five years, whereby he has skin in the game and will benefit from the improvements he plans to execute across all RBI owned brands.

For its part, Burger King plans to lean further into its roots - it introduced a "retro-inspired" logo in early 2021 - with a marketing campaign that largely focuses on the chain's flame-grilled flagship burger, the Whopper.  The chain will reportedly rely less on "The King," the hokey spokesperson that was frequently used in ads in recent years.  

The company in 2020 released renderings of what was described as the "drive-thru of the future," with three drive-thru lanes, one designated specifically for delivery partners, and "burger lockers," where customers could easily pick up their ordered food.  The new prototype was also described as "pandemic-proof," as it relied heavily on automation with less employee/customer interaction.  The first modern units were to have opened in Miami, Latin America and the Caribbean in 2021, but based on our research, none have opened.  

The planned Dunwoody restaurant will certainly be an update over the current restaurant but planning documents don't indicate it will be anywhere near as modern as the 2020 renderings.  

Overall, Burger King is the third largest fast food burger operator in America when ranked by sales.  McDonald's maintains its industry leading top position followed by Wendy's in second.  Although not presently a formidable challenger on a national level, San Antonio-based Whataburger has already opened several Atlanta area locations with dozens more planned, as it continues to jockey for market share.  

Based on a recently approved variance, Burger King is slated to receive final approval to start construction later this month and has six months from that time to commence work.  

Are you pleased to see GPS investing in their Dunwoody restaurant?  What is your favorite fast food burger franchise?  Do you think Whataburger is worth the hype?

Please share your thoughts below.  


BigRedDogATL said...

Here I thought it might be a future Whataburger location……. Oh well.

Disneypal said...

I go to that BK location for breakfast occasionally and the food is always good & fresh. I am glad that they are updating & keeping the location. I don’t eat fast food burgers often, but when I do, I tend to go to BK. I do like What-a-Burger, but I don’t understand all the hype.

Ham said...

Wow, sort of forgot about this place. It is a large lot in a nice location, but is Burger King what the people in that area want? Seems like a great location for Chick-fil-a.

Anonymous said...

I had noticed that there has been a sign pertaining to getting a variance to increase the number of parking spaces--which baffles me b/c although I have sporadically seen them doing some business, it's usually quite dead.

It's also peculiar in that there's a huge flag pole in the parking lot. A truck hit it and now it is bent. Did all fast food places used to have flag poles? Does anyone know the origins of this?

I don't see BK as a CFA/In and Out type place that really lures in a ton of cars, but what do I know.

Anonymous said...

it would be smarter to combine the BK and Bank of America (and maybe salon next door) and create a cool modern retail strip mall which can include a smaller Burger King and Bank of America - and other retailers (bar, coffee, ice cream, etc). This would take advantage of the Georgetown Gateway - new trail - project happening right in front of it. Unfortunately, nothing "smart" ever happens in Dunwoody.

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 9:22am: The issue with your suggestion is that those three parcels are all privately owned by different companies. Cities can't dictate that private owners redevelop their properties. So not sure how Dunwoody isn't being smart here.

That BK is pretty run down. Just yesterday, I mentioned that I don't know how they survive there. You rarely see more than a couple cars there at any given time and often there are no cars at all. I've lived within a mile of this restaurant for 24 years and have been there maybe four times, including when we met our realtor while negotiating the purchase price.

They do need a right turn lane there when heading north on Chamblee Dunwoody at the traffic light. The right turn is really tight and busses have a hard time making it and cars waiting to turn left onto Chamblee Dunwoody often have to back up to allow a bus to complete the turn. Hopefully that is included in the Georgetown Corridor project. Which, by the way, is taking way longer thant I could have ever imagined and judging from the piles of storm pipe still there, looks like they aren't anywhere close to finishing even with the infastructure.

Anonymous said...

Whataburger is awful and enough with the overrated CFA crap. I'll be happy with an updated BK location, especially since the McDonald's on Cotillion is a sh-tshow. Would be nice if BK also brought back real onion rings. The doughnut-shaped and deep fried onion mashed potato thing doesn't cut it.

Anonymous said...

The city is doing the gateway project - adding a trail is awesome. They presented a vision for this corridor and put their money where their mouth is. Sucks they can't convince any private business to buy in. I think it's a messaging problem. Other cities seem to attract much better business in much worse locations.

Everyone has figured out that trails mixed with retail works, people use the trails to go eat, shop, etc. Build it and business booms.

Dunwoody tries the same and we get a rebuilt Burger King, next to a old bank- both on huge lots - giant waste of space. Those two business are closed or dead after 5pm - just empty parking lots on a beautiful new trail. Imagine what that area could be. It's sad.

Anonymous said...

There is nothing smart about your suggestion, it’s really dumb. Why would there be a bank and a Burger King in a strip?

Anonymous said...

I wish BK would open a unit somewhere closer in to Buckhead. Wendy's is disgusting, I wouldn't feed it to my worst enemy's dog, and the last time I ate at the Buckhead McDonalds, it was so bad (at the height of the lunch rush), that I'm surprised it is still open.

Anonymous said...

The Burger King space would be a great space for NFA Burger to move to and get out of the gas station in Dunwoody. That Burger King needs to go. NFA has a great burger and needs to expand to a restaurant type space. Burger King restaurants are not really popular anymore and building a new one won’t change things.

Anonymous said...

Again, BK owns the property. So unless they are willing to sell, it will never be anything other than a BK regardless of what anyone thinks would be great there. Same with the bank next door. If you are poassionate enough about putting something else there, make them an offer. The BK parcel is assessed at $2.16MM. The bank parcel at just under $1MM (although either would likely command considerably more in the open market). I'v heard that bank location isn't even regularly staffed, so they may consider a sale.

As for NFA, that place will never leave the gas station until the owner gets the right professionals involved and trusts them to do their thing. Not every landlord is out to screw their tenants. But all landlords want to make a good deal for themselves and aren't going to give much leeway to a single location tenant that operates that single location out of a gas station. It's a big risk for a landlord too.

Anonymous said...

NFA's current situation is probably more profitable and less risky than taking over an unused restaurant, which typically needs to offer a larger menu, dessert options, etc, just to make enough to pay the lease. It's BK's land they can do what they please with it.

Anonymous said...

Just what Atlanta needs, a Burger King!

Anonymous said...

I love Burger King! Hopefully they open more in Georgia.

Anonymous said...

Ok, so the lots are owned by Burger King and Bank of America, and they will always be a crappy Burger King with a huge parking lot serving mostly a lunch crowd with big trucks (easy in and out). The bank will always be an ugly empty building on a huge unused parking lot. They will never sell, they will never change. Got it.

Then why the Georgetown Gateway project?, why waste all that money beautifying that corridor? Maybe that money should have been spent somewhere that would attract private investments - investments that would take advantage of the public investment - and would work well together - like everywhere else.

Again, the city of Dunwoody isn't powerless. They have a vision, they just can't seem to get others to buy into the vision. And yes, maybe they should buy the lots and flip them to a buyer that see's the vision. They'll easily spend 5mm on a lot to build a park, why not this?

and maybe I'm wrong about all this, but how do all the other cities do it?

Anonymous said...

You love burger king? Don’t get out much, do you?

Anonymous said...

further research indicates that this BK was built in 1976 as a Steak and Shake, which became a BK in the early 1980s. So I guess it was a Steak and Shake thing to have the flag pole.

The Takorea was initially a Texaco gas station, later became a Dairy Queen, then Guthrie's, then Takorea.

Michelle said...

There is a defunct BK almost directly across the street from NFA's gas station. It has been empty for several years now, the home of high school car wash fund raisers and occasional food truck parking. If that's the king of space they want, it's available.
It's the BK across from Georgetown that's being rebuilt. The property owner can do whatever he thinks best.

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