This Week on the Street – August 25, 2010

by Harold Shumacher

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We recently had the opportunity to sit down with four business writers from the AJC who cover a wide variety of beats (from banking to real  estate restaurants and retail.) What’s their consensus?

Similar to ours. No one really knows. Until there’s a significant uptick in job growth the economy will remain weak.   Retailers are looking hungrily at the pending holiday season for sales increases,  following two years with little to write home about. At this juncture it’s too early to determine how strong the market (and appetite) will be by consumers. Will they wait until the last minute for sales or shop early?  We anticipate a barrage of Christmas promotions likely beginning as early as Halloween.  Don’t be surprised to see week long (if not longer) sales at most establishments.

On the office front,  the game of musical chairs continues. Virtually every new lease announced represents a departure from an existing space. There is very little new growth. Landlords are inducing tenants to re-locate with extravagant build out allowances, assistance with moving costs and even paying the remainder of an existing lease term if the new lease is of sufficient length.

Industrial brokers we speak to may be the most active segment of the market-especially in the regional distribution category (RDC.) There are, reportedly, several major developments (500,000-1,000,000 sq. ft.) chasing locations.

On the restaurant front activity remains steady. Vinings-based Muss & Turner’s will be opening Local 3 in the former Joel space, in Buckhead. The Krystal Company is rolling out a new concept at Windward Parkway- The K-Café, described as a Panera bread like spot.  Look for Steak N’ Shake to place a growing emphasis on dining room service in the coming months.

Get ready for the Irish pub invasion of Dunwoody. In the next few months both Tilted Kilt and Firkin Pub will be opening in the Perimeter area.

Two closings of note,   Buckhead mainstay Ibiza   along with Savour at Peachtree Battle.

Names in the News

John Kessler, the AJC’s long-time restaurant reviewer-is returning to the role of critic following a stint as a feature writer and special interests reporter. Look for additional restaurant coverage in the suburban and ethnic markets. Chef Gary Mennie will leave Livingston’s, at the Georgian Terrace, to be top tocque at Restaurant 1280 at the High Museum (recently taken over by catering impresario Tony Conway.)  Concentrics (One Midtown Kitchen), Two Urban Licks has dissolved their partnership with Bake Shop owner Jonathan St. Hilaire who will now operate the Peachtree stop solo.

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