Tuesday, December 26, 2023

[EXCLUSIVE] Daytona 500 Winner Opening New Restaurant in Metro Atlanta

Former NASCAR driver Michael Waltrip plans to bring his new restaurant to metro Atlanta. Michael Waltrip Taproom plans to open in 2024 at The Mall of Georgia in Buford.  Specifically, the new restaurant is expected to open at The Village, the outdoor area at the mall, already home to restaurants such as P.F. Chang's China Bistro, The Cheesecake Factory, and Tin Lizzy's Cantina, among others. 

The taproom is slated to occupy a 6,209 square foot space most recently home to AliƱo Pizzeria.  The North Carolina-based pizza shop opened at the mall in late 2016 but was closed by mid-2022.  

Waltrip, who twice won the Daytona 500, retired from NASCAR in 2017.   He is now both a team owner and analyst and got into the beer business with the opening of Michael Waltrip Brewery in Bristol, Virginia, near Bristol Motor Speedway, in 2021. This past May, Waltrip opened the first Michael Waltrip Taproom in Concord, a suburb of Charlotte. The new taproom is located less than two miles from Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

Although the Buford outpost is nearly 70 miles from Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, it's only about 20 miles from Michelin Speedway Road Atlanta in Braselton.  Additionally, despite the struggles of some malls, Mall of Georgia continues to attract local and regional customers and the surrounding demographics are likely what attracted the restaurant's owners to Buford.  

In May, the company also announced a partnership with Elevatus Brand Partners, a franchise investment firm, to develop through franchising, 100 Michael Waltrip Taproom locations over the next five years.  

"The Michael Waltrip Taproom franchise aims to provide a cost-effective business model for franchisees by repurposing second-generation real estate rather than requiring new construction. This strategy will help minimize the financial burden associated with traditional real estate investments, ultimately increasing franchisee profitability and success."  

The Concord location was previously occupied by Hotshots Sports Bar & Grill, a Hooters-esque franchise out of St. Louis.  

Waltrip's franchise is not alone in seeing the appeal of conversions over new construction.

Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, backed by NFL legend Drew Brees, is also in growth mode and is focusing on restaurant conversions to accelerate its expansion and trim costs.  The first Atlanta area Walk-On's opened this past August in West Cobb where the New Orleans-themed sports bar converted a former Romano's Macaroni Grill.  

"Walk-On’s has also been focusing on restaurant conversions and has repurposed TGI Fridays, Twin Peaks and other full-service restaurants around the country," Restaurant Dive, a restaurant industry publication, said in April.  

Michael Waltrip Taproom would mark the return of a beer-centric business to the mall after more than two decades.  Max Lager's, which this year celebrated 25 years in business at its downtown Atlanta location, opened at the Mall of Georgia in 1999 but closed in 2001.  Tin Lizzy's Cantina occupies their former space today.  

Although there is no indication that work to convert the space has begun, an employee at the Concord restaurant indicates that plans are for the Buford unit to debut in April.  

Have you been to Michael Waltrip Taproom?  Do you think the company will open 100 units over the next five years?  What other types of restaurants would you like to see open in Buford?

Please share your thoughts below.  


Anonymous said...


Although the Buckhead outpost is nearly 70 miles from Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton,,,,

Just where in the world is this going to be? (Buckhead sure isn't 70 miles from Hampton, at least I don't think)

Atlantan99 said...

HAHA! Great catch! That was to say Buford and has been fixed.

Sorry for the confusion and thanks for your readership!

Anonymous said...

This whole concept does not sound like a good idea. These days, everybody who watches a single location or two tell the media they’re gonna open 100 more within the next two years or three and they never get to the fifth store. This is not a concept that looks like it would have the appeal and warrant all the stores that are in their plan. They’re better off, putting one destination location each in a couple of key cities throughout the south/west.. Make each of them more immersive an experience and keep, each single/city location as a destination. I hope they’re reading this, so they can thank me later.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...