Chef's Table - Location, Location, Location
Marc Weinburg, a partner at the Shopping Center Group, calls himself a "tenant rep." He helps restaurateurs find the right digs for their eateries.
Creative Loafing: Who have you scouted locations for?
Weinburg: I work mostly with national and regional tenants like Starbucks, TGI Friday's, PF Chang's, Brio, along with a few independent chefs I like - Kevin Rathbun, Bob Amick.
If you want to open a restaurant, what's the process?
First I consult with the restaurateur to do a market analysis. Who are they looking for? What economic range? What age? I help them understand where that customer is so we can come up with a strategy of where to locate and how to optimize the revenues to be pulled out of the market.
So that old "location, location, location" saying is true?
It's 100 percent true, with an asterisk. It needs to be the right location for each concept. You can't put Jason's Deli where you put an independent chef. They are in the same solar system, but in two different worlds that never cross. They market and operate differently.
What are the booming locations for a big-box chain restaurant?
Hot locations for national chains are the Perimeter and North Point, where the demographics are as good as it gets in Atlanta - around the regional malls, where people gather. There's a real herd mentality for those restaurants and it works.
And what's hot for the independents?
Downtown, the Old Fourth Ward and the area bounded by Edgewood, including Castleberry Hill and Marietta Street. Kevin Rathbun really proved that, for the right product, people will come.
What about certain spots that seem cursed? I'm thinking of the old Peachtree Cafe location.
It's usually a confluence of things. In the case of the former Peachtree Cafe, it worked at the time because the community supported it and there was enough parking. Buckhead Village was initially what it was intended to be and what the West Village is now, which is why East Andrews Cafe is successful. As the area became more of a late-night bar scene and crime issues rose, the community stayed away. Capital Grille has succeeded by literally rising above the fray.