This Week on The Street: February 23, 2012

by Harold Shumacher

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A more or less regular compilation of news, factoids and observations.

By Harold V. Shumacher

Barraged by daily messages of economic stagnation, rising gas prices, foreign economic and military crises, lagging employment and  slowed new residential construction it’s easy to lose perspective on what we really have going for us in Atlanta.  At least that was the message enthusiastically conveyed by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed at Databank’s semi annual state of the industry conference February 16, 2012. A confident Reed spoke about Atlanta’s emerging role as a logistics center, aided by the world’s largest airport and the port of Savannah.  In fact the port was cited as one of the principal reasons for Caterpillar’s recent announcement of a mega plant to be built near Athens.

Reed went on to note that if Georgia were a country it would be the 27th largest economy  in the world  with a gross domestic product of $403 billion and a population of 9.8 million people. On the verge of a trade mission to China the mayor was optimistic about metro  Atlanta’s continued attraction to foreign capital. ( A message re-enforced by other panelists who noted that Atlanta is “on sale” right now compared to other major American cities.)

The dark cloud looming on the horizon is the July 31, metro wide SPLOST (transportation) tax) vote.  “This is a transformational moment for metro Atlanta,” the mayor enthused in full campaign fervor “what we decide will have an impact on our children’s children and will determine what kind of city/metro area we have. Will this be a place of continuing opportunity or will Atlanta begin to lose out to other cities.  If we’re truly going to be an international city a yes vote is critical.” The remarks were warmly received as the majority of the attendees are clearly tied to Atlanta’s continued growth to keep offices, warehouses and retail spaces occupied.

A panel of economic development specialists (including the heads of the Atlanta Beltline and Invest Atlanta,  the former  Atlanta Development authority) noted several other major projects in the pipeline including the multi modal transportation center ( a joint venture of Forrest City, Cousins and a consortium of other smaller companies); the planned re-development of Ft. McPherson, Buckhead Atlanta;  the opening of the new international terminal and a planned sixth runway at  the airport and a possible new football stadium adjacent to the world congress center.

Who’s the most powerful person in foodservice you’ve never heard of?  According to one poll Brooke Johnson, president of the food network closely followed by Thomas Vilsack, the Secretary of the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture  , Jeremy Stoppelman, Co-founder and CEO of Yelp and Mike Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart.  Wal-mart will soon be making its presence felt in the metro Atlanta area with several of their  smaller footprint neighborhood grocery stores opening later this year.

Another company adding to its repertoire is Starbuck’s.  Look for the addition of beer and wine at a half dozen of the company’s metro Atlanta locations in the coming months.  The most likely locations those in concentrated urban areas such as Decatur, Buckhead and Midtown. Also look for a name change at the Houston’s on Peachtree (South Buckhead) soon to be re-launched as Hillstone.

Spotted…. Eat Beef, the west wasn’t won on salad.

In other news of note Chef Kevin Rathbun has announced his newest location, KR Steak Bar, with a menu of small plate steaks and Italian fare, opening in Peachtree Hills later this summer. Other opening of note include a second American Road House,  at the Pencil Factory in the old Fourth Ward; the re-opening of Baroni (Peachtree St.) from the same owners as Fig Jam Kitchen & Bar; two Lime Fresh locations (midtown and Buckhead);

Closings of note include MF Sushi (both Midtown and Buckhead),  Tierra, Evos,Fox Sports Grill, Midtown and  Morton’s, Buckhead;

Recent transactions from The Shumacher Group Inc. include:

Lease of  Wing Stop,   Chastain Road Kennesaw

 Lease of Egg Harbor, Sandy Springs

Lease  of  360 Pharr Road– to Olde Towne Tavern & Grille

 Lease of Restaurant space at 5300 Lofts, Chamblee to Steam Koffee

Lease to Treza and Boa Thai,  Brookhaven

Lease to La Parilla-Toco Hills (Atlanta); Savannah

  Business Asset Sales

 Sale of Mittie’s Tea Room Roswell

Sale of Philly Connection Whitlock Street, Marietta.

 Sale of Decatur Diner

 Sale of Via Food Bar, Pharr Road Buckhead

 

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