Thursday, January 4, 2024

[ALERT] Change is Afoot in Tucker

Blue Ribbon Grill - 4006 LaVista Road - a longstanding Tucker area restaurant, is on the move.  The classic American restaurant has been a Tucker staple for nearly four decades but its current owners have opted not to renew their lease and plan to relocate elsewhere in Tucker.  

Located in Briarcliff LaVista Shopping Center - bound by LaVista, Briarcliff, and Henderson Mill Roads - Blue Ribbon Grill (BRG) first opened in 1985 and occupies a 4,800 square foot space.  At the time of its opening, the anchor space, today home to Michaels, was occupied by A&P, then later a Drug Emporium, both now defunct retailers.   

In the decades since, the restaurant has had several owners.  

Jennifer and Eric Greene, who left careers in advertising and media operations respectively, became BRG's latest owners in February 2021 but did so with zero formal restaurant experience.  

Apparently, things have not gone so well as of late, and faced with an increase in their rent, the Greenes have opted not to renew their lease and have reportedly found a new location elsewhere in Tucker to relocate.  (ToNeTo Atlanta has been made aware of their prospective new location but we have been asked not to identify it as the leasing process is not complete.)  

"We have had a great few years running BRG. However, during this time, our landlord has brought the rent up to an amount that is causing us financial distress. We are basically being priced out of the building for whatever reason."

To help fund their move and the new location, the Greenes have launched a GoFundMe page where they are hoping to raise $50,000.  As of noon January 3, the effort had raised $1,150 from nineteen donors.  

"Our last day in the current building will be February 29, 2024. We have found a new location in Tucker, which we are working to finalize. In case it is not ready to move into by March 1, we are also making plans for our staff to be ok if there is any down-time. We are reaching out to the community for help. We are already under hardship because of our lease situation, and the move is going to cost more money on top of that."

It's unclear what "hardship" they are under as they are simply not renewing their lease and would therefore only be paying the rent of their existing agreement.  

"We would appreciate it if the community we have worked so hard to serve and give back to would now consider making any kind of donations to us so that we can stay in business and stay in Tucker."

If Blue Ribbon Grill does successfully find a new home, it would be at least the third Tucker area restaurant to relocate in the past few years.  Fork in the Road moved from Northlake [Mall] to a former Wendy's on La Vista Road in 2018.   More recently, Bambinelli's relocated from Northlake Parkway to the old O'Charley's on Crescent Centre Boulevard in 2022.  It's worth noting too that the owners of Bambinelli's purchased their property to better control their destiny.  

If you consider the 2017 opening of Magnolia Room Cafeteria, which amounted to a reincarnation of the beloved S&S Cafeteria in Embry Hills, the Blue Ribbon move could actually mark the fourth restaurant move in recent Tucker history.  

Blue Ribbon's current tagline - "You gotta eat somewhere, and we need the money" - was found by Barnes & Leslie of The Morning X on 99X to be quite endearing and resulted in a free plug on the station.  The owners will need a lot more than an endearing tagline to get anywhere near their fundraising goal. 

UPDATE: Blue Ribbon Grill now plans to close at 4PM on Sunday, February 25. 

Have you ever been to the Blue Ribbon Grill?  What is your favorite Tucker area restaurant?  What would you like to see open in place of the Blue Ribbon Grill in Tucker?

Please share your thoughts below  

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love Blue Ribbon Grill. I hate to see them move only because that location is so iconic with the restaurant, but I do hope they are able to relocate because it’s one of my favorite places. I heard rumors that Michael’s may be relocating too, any news on that?

Ham said...

Never ate at the Blue Ribbon. Favorite Tucker restaurant is Matthews maybe more sentimental than anything else. Also, like the Magnolia Room, but do miss the old S & S and the famous Sweet Potatoe Balls.

Anonymous said...

"If you raise the rent, they will come"? It's a pretty neglected center and Michael's is hardly much of an anchor. Maybe they have something lined up? It seems bold to drive them away.

Anonymous said...

I was a very regular customer of the Blue Ribbon Grill when it was run by the previous owner, however since the change in ownership EVERYTHING with the restaurant has seriously declined. On top of that the new owners don’t seem to appreciate their customers, when one of the long time server’s introduced me to Jennifer Greene as a very regular guest she brushed the introduction off in a very unprofessional manner.

As for their support of the community myself & many others have come to the decision that we cannot support a business that supports DISCRIMINATION. Jennifer Greene threw a fundraiser meet and greet for the Tucker City Council candidate Karen Berry, whose whole campaign platform was base on discrimination and to repeal the Tucker Non-discrimination Ordinance. I think that is not the type of giving back to the community that Tucker wants and is clearly demonstrated in their fundraising efforts having only raised $1,150 of a goal of $50,000. Jennifer Greene has posted that fundraiser on a number of social media sites & groups and has to put it simply been “roasted” by the community with multiple people saying that they should be looking for financing rather than a handout.

Anonymous said...

Olive Garden or Chili's

Anonymous said...

Speaking truth their menu is very dated and the homestyle food has a whole container of salt in it, at least that’s what it taste like. The entire establishment looks like it’s 40 years old and 40 years ago was the last time it was cleaned properly. I do think they have name recognition and a following so if they decide to reopen in a new location I just hope that they’ll build it out as NEW and maintain it properly. I would definitely give them another try. If you’re seeing this, please reduce the salt in your food and I bet you’ll have more customers returning. Sincerely, anonymous.

Anonymous said...

Was wondering what was happening at the BRG? I have been going for years, always happy with the food and service. Have now avoided going there after a couple bad experiences. Hope all goes well with your move.

Cathy Iconis said...

Just curious, how much have they donated to area schools if they have given so much to the community? If they have donated, then it makes some sense. If not, then what are they doing?

Anonymous said...

I wish them well but so many red flags here. The restaurant business is the toughest in the world. People get in without proper training or experience. I am not sure if that is the case here. But rents rise and will continue to do so as will insurance, wages and utilities.
I actually think that restaurants need to take a hard look at buying their real estate. The landlord will NEVER be your friend or have any concern for your profits over theirs.

Anonymous said...

Michael's is moving too. Across the street the Northlake Festival from what I've heard.

Anonymous said...

The current owners must be idiots. We stopped going there several months ago due to horrible service. Even tried pickup, thinking they couldn't mess it up but our order wasn't even started when I got there 25 minutes after ordering. For them to have the audacity to start a Go Fund Me page is pathetic. The owners need to go back to their previous professions but they probably sucked at them as well.

Anonymous said...

Wow! This information is enlightening. I never felt that political influence and involvement was ever good for a community business myself.

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed a martini here and there occassionally but the place feels so dirty. Food was ok. The Go Fund me is a poor move on their part as evident by the lack of progress they've made.

Anonymous said...

We went in there ONCE years ago (before ownership change) and the store REEKED. It was visibly dirty and smelled of old grease and cigarettes. I will never understand nostalgia for nasty old places with tired gross food. The nostalgia for S&S is beyond me - and the food at Magnolia is reheated, overcooked, unseasoned and pretty much nasty as well yet people flock there. Matthews is also really nasty. I don't get it.

The new owners have zero restaurant experience and their "financial hardships" are not being able to pay the bills because they don't know how to run a restaurant. The restaurant business has never been easy and the pandemic killed off (and is still killing off) SO many independent stores. Landlords have driven out the indies that were not killed by the pandemic.

I *do* stand by bringing up politics when it comes to businesses. If I have a choice to give my money to a MAGAt owned place or not, I will 100% choose NOT. Now that we know the nature of the ownership of BRG, I'll pass on giving them money. They lose their lease, they are out of business. Move on.

Anonymous said...

Smokey Bones restaurant.

Anonymous said...

Ouch,

Anonymous said...

A regular — often daily — customer for the past 4 years. The clueless new owners drove this iconic local spot into the ground, chasing away all but a precious few key employees — both kitchen and customer-facing. Never ran a restaurant before, yet they think they know better.

The audacity to form a GoFundMe page with vague inferences that the money would go to displaced employees — none of whom have heard anything of the sort — is beyond belief. Sad, really.

Anonymous said...

I’d say like many others have it’s due to the new owners.

Anonymous said...

I went there with family and friends in November we were in the area and it was just ok. Severs were good but food was just ok similar to a school lunch. Would not leave my home to go there.

Anonymous said...

I've lived in the area for quite a while and have always found BRG to be inconsistent so stopped going there. It definitely needs a remodel so hopefully if another restaurant/bar goes in there it will get cleaned up. The Northlake area really needs some good restaurants.

Anonymous said...

Didn’t Ludlum Porch own BRG at one time?

Anonymous said...

Bad service, mediocre food in the past couple years. They need to change the kitchen and the staff as well as the location.

Anonymous said...

Been eating here for years but the food quality and service has been a total miss since the new owners. What a shame.

Anonymous said...

I just love modern times. business in financial hardship because you lacked the experience and knowledge required? don't get investors that would expect you to have experience or for you to answer to them. just go on the internet and ask people to give you money for free. I don't know these people and haven't eaten at BRG in years but I can't imagine how arrogant you have to be to come into the restaurant business with ZERO experience and think that you're going to be a success.

Anonymous said...

Wow - this does not look good for the future of the restaurant. If you are so lean that you have to ask the public (that you have served for less than three years) to provide handouts keep you afloat, then you should just cut bait. Does anyone want to eat at a restaurant that will undoubtably have to continue to cut corners to stay open?

I totally agree that the area needs some decent restaurants.

Anonymous said...

Tucker used to have so many good restaurants but they all closed up shop- both chains and family owned . We are in dire need of both !!!!

Anonymous said...

In the past, I would call on a customer in the area and we would have lunch at this establishment. The customer made the call and I picked up the tab. With the change in ownership, quality went down as will as the level of service and my customer noted this and we went elsewhere for lunch.

As to the new owners, one would think that some time working in the establishment would help to educate them on the ins and out of running a restaurant. Perhaps they were rock stars in the their prior work life but this will not help you understand how to wash dishes and run a commercial warewashing machine.

Defiantly taken back by the owners asking the public to help fund the staff that will be let go. I do not recall of other establishments taking this role when they have closed down a restaurant, bar, lounge or other business.

I wonder if all of the monies will be shared with the staff of if there will be a handling fee imposed by the owners. Very cavalier and pompous owners.


Good luck to the staff in locating a new employer.

Anonymous said...

Ludlow Porch was the original owner/founder and did his own radio ads for BRG for years.

Anonymous said...

Ludlow was an initial investor, but frequent presence in the early days. I was a server there in the late 80’s, as a college student. It was a fun, social place with good home cooking and friendly staff.

Flash forward 30+ years, our daughter is a high school student at Lakeside hi and the previous owners of BRG have frequently held “Spirit Night” fundraisers for various school clubs, for example: “dine at BRG between 7-9 and mention LHS Chorus and they’ll donate 10% to the club….”

Well, the new owners were unfamiliar with this program when I approached them about a similar spirit night, a couple of years ago, I guess shortly after they took over operations. They were interested and agreed, a few of us from the high school came to support and assist, and were shocked at how well prepared they were.

Worse, the owner ended the fundraiser in the middle of the event!

We brought in such a crowd, they were overwhelmed. The servers were thrilled, they were making money, they told us, for the first time in ages…

But the owner was freaked out about the money they’d have to turn over, and the kitchen was overwhelmed and soon so backed up on orders, some people waited an hour and a half for their food..

When the club representative went to collect the money, a couple of days later, they only received about half of what the receipts showed. The owner had little explanation, except, “they lost money on this”

I’ve worked off anon in the restaurant business for 15 years. As a server, bartender, manager, catering, Director, etc. I don’t see how it is possible to lose money on a packed house.

I was sorry, but this was the last spirit night or fundraiser Lakeside ever attempted there. Obvious reasons. That was sad, because we had a successful partnership with them for many years.

If they move, I wish them success, but believe that would be impossible without management change.

Maybe they can become silent owners?

I do hope it’s not another fast food franchise that occupies the space. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were an Olive Garden, it would complement their other property red lobster across the street.

Anonymous said...

Neal Borax I think owned it

Anonymous said...

Dirty restaurant and terrible food.

Anonymous said...

Now there is the former Po Folks location that has been vacant for years...could that be the landing place?

Anonymous said...

And the terlit stunk like dook , p u

Anonymous said...

That place is a mess. Will likely need to be demolished not reused.

Anonymous said...

My family had eaten there for years, but it’s grown tired and lacks the something special that used to keep it popular. Sorry to see it go, but it’s been run into the ground. Let it go! I also had the displeasure of meeting Ms Greene one day and she was far less than cordial. When the owners personality is not service oriented it spills over to the staff. The food is awful, the staff is so so and the building is DIRTY! If the prospective lease is approved they obviously didn’t do their due diligence.

Anonymous said...

Mysteriously, a fire broke out there tonight less than a week from their closing date and after they were begging for donations to keep their business afloat. I'm anxious to hear what really happened. Seems a kitchen fire broke out and their fire extinguisher system wasn't functional. Now that's just odd.....hmmmmm

Anonymous said...

I thought they were closed as of January 31st. What is going on???

Anonymous said...

Bambinelli’s old location was not Tucker. The restaurant moved to its new location in Tucker from Unincorporated DeKalb.

Anonymous said...

The key to enjoying your BRG meal is including 2-4 martinis... numbs you to the stench coming from contaminated CO2 lines at the bar. Guarantee you that 75% of the clientele are on high blood pressure meds yet can no longer taste the insanely oversalted mess they put on plates. The mostly elderly (and intoxicated, see above) patrons just don't want to venture any further down the road to try anything new. It's no secret that Jennifer Greene supported the repeal of the Tucker Non-discrimination Ordinance. Fortunately they'll be gone before the temps go up - don;t have to watch the condensation drip from the ceiling vents onto customer tables. The ultimate mis-read is expecting the patrons to cover for the inept, uncaring owner's bad decisions. Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

I went there one time in the late '80s when Ludlow Porch(a long time radio talk show host and cousin to Louis Gizzard) was part owner. Killer home cooking especially the meatloaf and mashed potatoes and gravy. Don't know why I never went back

Anonymous said...

Wow, doesn’t sound very community oriented to me! And now they are asking for a handout?

Anonymous said...

Deal breaker. That’s not what Tucker is about. Byeee

Anonymous said...

I spoke to someone at Michael's last weekend, and she said that's just rumor. Michael's is not moving!

Anonymous said...

This is not true. I spoke with a Michael's representative last weekend, and she said that it's just rumor.

Anonymous said...

Was your introduction to the new co-owner a "discrimination" incident? Just wondering, as you seem so convinced & maybe she was just overwhelmed at the time.

Anonymous said...

We're just the opposite. If we find a business IS MAGA or conservative, we will support it!

Anonymous said...

BRG has been a mainstay in Tucker for 40 years and it used to be a fun place. The staff was wonderful, friendly, and seemed to have a great camaraderie among their guests as well as each other. The food was consistent and comfortable. In the last twenty years, we went regularly. Even after the pandemic eased we enjoyed meals on the patio where Elvis was our most efficient waiter. He would see us out there and bring our tea just as we were seated. After a few recent disasters there—one night we were seated and given menus and water, only to find that the staff had walked out and we couldn’t be served. Another time 4 of us dined, but only 3 orders got placed. Another time we were denied entrance because of the acrid odor resulting from a kitchen fire. We gave up. I hope some semblance of the old BRG can be resurrected and I wish the owners success in a new venture.

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