Restaurants keep opening despite down economy-Atlanta Cuisine Article

by Steven Josovitz

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Atlanta Cuisine July 2009

Restaurants keep opening despite down economy.
By Tom Maicon

Atlanta – “It’s a great time to open a restaurant,” explains Steve Josovitz of the Shumacher Group, who is regarded by many as Atlanta’s restaurant real estate authority.  “There are so many turnkey opportunities that require no money down,” Josovitz explains.
With the economy sputtering and consumer confidence at an all-time low it’s hard to imagine anyone wanting to open a restaurant right now.
“Believe it or not, I have more potential buyers now than ever before in my 20 plus years doing this,” says Josovitz.  “The entrepreneurial spirit in this country is obviously alive and well.”
That entrepreneurial spirit we Americans are so proud of is apparently alive and kicking despite recent economic woes.  Look around you.  New restaurants keep popping up all over town, sticking their spatulas into the face adversity.
Recently in Midtown alone, three new restaurants have decided to test the waters: Water Haven (75 5th St., Midtown, 404.214.6740), Nonna Mia (980 Piedmont Ave., Midtown, 404.532.2815) and Midtown Mediterranean Diner (112 10th St., Midtown, 404.228.7401).  All three seemed to arrive on the scene with plenty of dough to toss at build out.
In Smyrna, L’Thai opened a second location called L’Thai West (4500 West Village Place, Smryna, 770.434.4344) late spring of this year with a third in the works in Roswell, slated to open late summer or possibly early fall.  Both deals were signed within a week of each other.
The owners of Spoon recently expanded their popular Thai concept by opening an outpost on Moreland Avenue in East Atlanta.  To this point the biggest challenge they face is crime.  The restaurant has been repeatedly robbed.
Over in Virginia-Highland D.B.A Barbecue (1190 N. Highland Ave. Ste B, Virginia-highland, 404.249.5000) took over the space formerly occupied by Vine.
And the list goes on and on with plenty more on the way.  Though many are signing leases fully aware of the state of the economy, others never intended to open a restaurant in the midst of the worst economic downturn in eighty years.
Take Parker’s on Ponce (116 Ponce de Leon Ave. Decatur, 404.924.2230) for example.  Co-owner J.T. Scott scouted the former Mick’s location late 2007 before signing a lease early 2008.
“At that time money was flowing freely in Decatur,” says Scott.  “But shortly after we signed the economy deteriorated.”
By the time this sleek Decatur steakhouse opened its doors in November last year, the economic fallout had come to a head.
“We’ve been forced to adjust and become more value conscious,” explains Scott, who now offers a $6.95 lunch special.
Scott did tell me the restaurant is doing well despite it all and he seems to be taking it all in stride.
I’ve been asking for months why on earth anyone would open a restaurant in this economy.  But think about it, people are still going out to eat.  It’s not like we’re going to stop now.  It’s what we do and who we are.  We’ve just changed our dining habits to adapt to this new economy.
And after I’ve had the chance to speak with those involved with bringing these restaurant to light, I think I understand a lot more.
Perhaps Josovitz hit the nail on the head — the entrepreneurial spirit in this country will never die.

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