The chain restaurant rumor mill

Every Friday Roots in Alpharetta features an article on food and dining in a series called Foodie Friday.

I wrote not long ago about locally-run eateries that are good replacements for chain restaurants. Let’s turn that article on its head and talk about chain joints. And to make things more difficult, let’s get predictive. Which chains or franchise restaurants may soon open new locations in the Alpharetta area?

I’ll preface the article by saying that my restaurant crystal ball has proven to be rather cloudy over the years. Rarely do my predictions come to fruition so take these ideas with a grain of salt, or perhaps file them away in the rumor bin.

FirebirdsWe’ll start off at the higher end. Charlotte-based Firebirds Wood Fired Grill serves hand-cut steaks, chicken, seafood and ribs cooked over wood-burning grills. They operate 36 locations throughout the southeast but none in Georgia at this time. I’ve heard rumors they are eying Alpharetta, in particular the new Atwater development across the street from Avalon. No definitive plans are in the works though so we’ll keep it at that. But it could be interesting to see how they fare against the restaurants in Avalon itself.

Expect a few more franchise sandwich chains to appear in town before too long. I’ve got my eye on two in particular. First is Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop. Last year the Las Vegas-based chain announced a franchise agreement that would bring stores to our area. Since then only a Duluth location has opened but Alpharetta is promised.

And in the same genre, Penn Station East Coast Subs could arrive. This month they announced a franchise deal with potential stores in Alpharetta, Cumming, Roswell and Johns Creek. They already have Atlanta-area stores in Suwanee and Druid Hills. Their made-to-order deli sandwiches probably won’t get too many foodies excited, but their website touts a good Philly cheesesteak, a sammich lacking in this area.

The burger craze is far from burning out and new fast-casual chains could still make an appearance in Alpharetta. While west Windward is thick with burgers, downtown Alpharetta is ripe for a concept. I also think Old Milton Parkway’s east end could support one and possible another near the mall. As for who might make an appearance? Florida-based Burger 21 announced Alpharetta plans years ago but got caught flat footed. Eventually they finalized plans to open at Johns Creek Promenade, a new shopping center coming out of the ground now along Peachtree Parkway. I’m also watching Texas-based Grub Burger Bar, Grindhouse Killer Burgers and Zinburger. All three have ITP locations and could consider making the jump north.

And finally we get to fast food. Watch out for Del Taco. I’ve heard credible rumors that they are eying a location in Milton along Highway 9 near Target or Aldi. And chicken fryer Bojangles doesn’t have a presence in our area even though they are slowly growing their exposure to the Atlanta market. I’ve seen their name penciled in for a few spots around town but none have materialized.

11 Responses to “The chain restaurant rumor mill”

  1. Travis Allen April 24, 2015 at 8:49 am #

    Kind of a stretch to call Grindhouse a chain with only 4 locations isn’t it? I’d certainly welcome them up here with their adult shakes.

    Del Taco…wow, forgot about them and haven’t seen one since their location closed at Gwinnett Mall years ago. There used to be one in Roswell on Hwy 9 along with Pizza Hut(Enterprise Rentals), IHOP and Western Sizzlin(Dreamland BBQ)

    Burger 21 can keep their so-so burgers up at Mall of Georgia. We don’t need them unless they want to replace Smushburger on Windward.

    Bojangles would be nice…who doesn’t want a chicken biscuit on Sunday when Chick-fil-a is closed?

  2. K's mom April 24, 2015 at 10:42 am #

    Bojangles would be awesome

  3. Scott Dumon April 24, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    Wish Newk’s would come up our way…

  4. Bo Time April 24, 2015 at 11:57 am #

    I’ve been praying for Bojangles since I moved to Alpharetta 10 years ago. This is my go-to biscuits stop. The sides, and fried chicken are great too but fried chicken is fried chicken for the most part. Everytime I travel to Augusta I day dream of Bo-Time. I really if ever eat fast food but to me this is less fast food, and more great food served fast. If you haven’t already try the Cajun Spicy Biscuit, and tell me it doens’t match up to any breakfast spot you enjoy. BTW the biscuits are made from scatch everyday incase you may have thought you’ll get a frozen biscuit like some of the area breakfast locations that are “fresh.”

  5. Cool Papa Bell April 24, 2015 at 12:51 pm #

    It’s a credit to Alpharetta that places like Pizza Hut, Joe’s Crap Shack, Bahama Breeze, Sonny’s, Famous Dave’s and so many others have been chased away by better and cheaper locals. Hopefully the bottom of the food chain chain Darden reads the tea leafs and stays away.

    How about brining in some good ones like Houston’s, WaWa, Primo Hoagies, etc?

  6. J April 24, 2015 at 9:38 pm #

    Haven’t seen a Del Taco for years. I thought they went under completely.

    Alpharetta needs a Martin’s ( for breakfast. Used to visit the one off Buford highway when I lived ITP.

  7. J April 25, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    @Cool Papa Bell I agree with you on Houston’s. Great place. Do you think Village Tavern is similar enough? We would love a Pappacitos in Alpharetta. They have the one in Marietta and their sister restaurant Pappadeaux has been in Alpharetta for years.

  8. Travis Allen April 28, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    There is still a Pizza Hut in Alpharetta…the one by the mall was in such a crappy location that I’d be surprised to see much of anything do well there with it being so hidden.

    We never had a Sonny’s that I recall and Famous Dave’s was awful.

    Joe’s never fared well, but I’m pressed to think of another place I can go get fried seafood, good or bad, other than Miller’s (uh no) or Captain D’s (another no). Pappadeaux is good, but sometimes I just want a basket of friend clam strips and/or oysters.

    I thought the Bahama Breeze closure was only due to Rooms to Go purchasing the property, not the performance of the restaurant.

  9. Cool Papa Bell April 28, 2015 at 3:43 pm #

    J, Village Tavern is rock solid. At Houston’s at least I can say I’ve had something there better than anywhere else: the Chicago spinach and artichoke dip or C-SPIN to the waitrons.

    At Village, I’ve never had anything bad, but also never had anything great. The meatloaf is probably the best thing.

    That’s pretty much how I feel about Pappadeaux. It’s a good chain but with Hugo’s and Adele’s as options, the last time I went it was to meet people.

  10. Scott April 29, 2015 at 1:25 pm #

    Yes to Grindhouse and Bojangles please!

  11. Mike Christensen April 30, 2015 at 7:26 am #

    There was a Sonnys on Hwy 9 just south of Hembree. That closed a long time ago and is now (surprise) a car dealership.

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