This Week on The Street November 14, 2011

by Steven Josovitz

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This Week on The Street November 14, 2011

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


Uncertainty is the largest challenge facing the U.S. economy says Senator Johnny Isakson, Georgia’s Jr. U:.S. senator,  Isakson was the featured speaker at the Georgia Restaurant Association’s annual PAC fund raiser held at Canoe Tuesday Oct. 25, 2011.  A former real estate executive, Isakson noted that two areas of great concern to restaurant owners are immigration reform and mandatory  health care coverage. Both issues have significant impact on the restaurant and agricultural industries-two of Georgia’s economic mainstays. Isakson also touched on the pending budget crisis in Washington, expressing optimism that the super committee can come to a resolution without theatrics and emotion (highly unlikely in light of today’s extreme partisanship in our opinions.)

Shying away from any predictions on the outcome of the Republican Presidential sweepstakes, Isakson made it clear that he preferred to see someone of his party in the White House come January 2013.  The annual event was attended by over 60 of the leading restaurant owners and operators from throughout Georgia.

Many of those in attendance could afford to be there-at least according to Atlanta accountant Bob Wagner. Wagner’s firm, Net Financials,   publishes a quarterly update of area restaurant activity based on data compiled from several dozen of the company’s clients.  Among the highlights are that third quarter 2011 same store sales showed an increase of 6.4 percent from the same period last year, which was slightly up from the year before (2009.)  In essence sales have improved anywhere from 10-15% from two years ago. The third quarter growth is consistent with the patterns shown since the start of the year when quarterly sales were up 5.3 and 7.2 percent respectively.  Of the 70 restaurants surveyed,   77 percent  (approximately 50) reported positive sales gains. Does this mean that we’re out of the recession?  Probably not but it’s encouraging to see positive growth.


Asian Growth Continues Northward Trend


            While Buford Highway and Chamblee abound with Asian owned and operated businesses a strong case can be made that the real focus of the Asian community has shifted to Duluth and the Gwinnett Mall area.  Consider the following; Gwinnett Mall features Mega Mart,  the only full service Korean department store and grocery market in the Southeastern United States  Nearby are three, large Asian grocery stores along with numerous restaurants. Among our personal favorites are Honey Pig (Korean barbecue);  East Pearl,  Naru .(sushi) recently   re-located Fung Mei (from Buford Highway) and the sprawling Golden House presided over  by tempermental  but talented chef Danny Ting. Another sure sign of this area becoming heavily Asian, the growing number of nearby high schools with Asian American populations of anywhere from 20-40 of the total enrollment. Buford Highway may be where a lot of these families started but following the American dream they’ve ended up in the suburbs.

             New restaurants and food shops continue to dip their toes into the marketplace. Some newcomers to keep an eye include a still unnamed   new concept from Chef Paul Albrecht at the former Folks spot on Spring Road (Cumberland area);  T’reza Pizza and Boa Thai  Brookhaven; Del Persian Restaurant Cobb Parkway;  a second spot from the owners of Antica Pizza also on Hemphill (Midtown);  another Twisted Taco, Suwanee: Seed, from Chef Doug Turbush  East Cobb; Boxcar Grocer-a community oriented predominantly local and organic ingredient market in Castelberry  Hill and the Spotted Trotter, a gourmet charcuterie shop in Kirkwood.

        Recent closings include the New York Butcher Shop Alpharetta (though apparently a new outlet is Coming to midtown); LeRoy’s Fried Chicken (West Midtown); Isabella’s Decatur and Old Mill Acworth.
        Unverified Rumor Dept.  Nava, Buckhead Life’s Southwestern concept, may be closing in ate 2011 or early 2012.

        Recent transactions by The Shumacher Group Inc. include
Sale of the Decatur Diner
Sale of Via Food Bar, Pharr Road, Buckhead, Atlanta
Sale of Italia Cafe in Historic Downtown Lawrenceville to Romeo’s NY Pizza
Lease of space at Emory Village to Romeo’s N.Y. Pizza
Sale of Shoney’s Thornton Road, Lithia Springs
Lease of space to T’reza, an Italian Eatery and Pizzera Town Brookhaven
Lease of space to Boa Thai at Town Brookhaven
Sale of Shoney’s, Union City
Lease of space to Egg Harbor at Parkside, Sandy Springs

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