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Parking Nazi’s and Failed Restaurants

August 11, 2011

There are a lot more important things to be writing about right now, but this happened to catch my attention.  As I was walking through Lindbergh Station I had noticed that Bobby G’s had closed.  Now I was never a fanatic about this place, but they made a decent slice of pizza, and it was convenient.  On the flip side, they were a bit pricey and all of their food wasn’t that great.   Regardless I was a little disappointed to see it closed, which spawned me to get on the Googles and find out why.

Now normally a restaurant closing wouldn’t have much to do with a blog on transit and MARTA, but never underestimate the power of a moron and their ability to link something they don’t like to their own personal failures.  This awful “article” has done exactly that.  The former owner’s main complaints were that it was because of MARTA and the charge for parking that there wasn’t a sustainable amount of business.  He went even further out onto the limb of stupidity when he put blame on the supposed neighboring Section 8 housing.  After reading this I tried to breathe deeply as to not allow my head to burst from frustration, but then I made the mistake of scrolling down to the comments section.  What was said here could provide months of blog postings.  But I won’t, and will just focus on the ignorance of Glenn Kaas, the owner of the now defunct restaurant.

While who owns and operates all of the parking decks can get a little muddy with the developer, the management, and who leases the property it really plays no role whatsoever in the failure of Bobby G’s.  Lindbergh Center Station was conceived, designed, and built as a TOD.  From an urban design point of view, it is lacking in certain aspects, but unfortunately the nuisances that make some of these developments struggle are misinterpreted market forces that everyone seems to be afraid to stray from.  Regardless, it makes perfect sense to charge for parking given the development’s premise and the ease of access to mass transit.  It is done to discourage drivers.  Similarly to the way Seattle raised their parking fees to encourage people to use mass transit. (Sure didn’t see a mass exodus of businesses from that)  This is something that Mr. Kaas should have been well aware of when establishing his restaurant.  Furthermore, the decks offer validation to restaurant clients allowing them to park for free.  But damn that MARTA, damn it all to hell for helping to create an environment that discourages the use of an automobile. 

Maybe Mr. Kaas’ claim would carry some credibility if it wasn’t for the fact that Chili’s, Texas Longhorn, Taco Mac, Five Guys, Sip, Jersey Mike’s, Urban Flats and Willies Mexicana are located within 100 yards of Bobby G’s.  Now I am not the biggest fan of chain restaurants, but being that there is such a high concentration of eateries here, it might be (and when I say might be I mean definitely) that the market is oversaturated.   Throw in the retail places across Piedmont with their restaurants, and a few fast food places along Piedmont as well, it is just a matter of time before the less popular establishments start dropping off.  Especially in this economic environment.

Mr. Kaas also blamed the presence of Section 8 housing.  This statement offered validity to my assumption that this guy is just pissed because his business didn’t make it.  The neighboring apartments at one point did allow Section 8 but began a transition away from it.  Regardless it did not force any of the other businesses to close.

The long and short of it is that Bobby G’s failed because it couldn’t capture a dedicated audience.  And given the concentration of office workers, AT&T and MARTA, as well as foot traffic, it is hard to believe that its failure was for anything otherwise.  Mr. Kaas, and the website who published the article, should be ashamed of spreading such blatant misinformation, further playing into so many people’s misconceptions of mass transit and MARTA, further displayed by their comment board.  But then again, being that That’s MARTA already had to take this bloggers ignorant ass to task before, I shouldn’t expect too much.  I just hope they remembered to renew their subscriptions to the AJC.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. CubeDweller permalink
    August 11, 2011 2:19 pm

    This was a restaurant on my weekly lunch cycle (5-Guys one day, SIP the next, Willy’s the next…). I always got something to go because the place was hot and noisy; not a place in which you would want to linger. They had fans all over trying to keep the place cool because of the pizza ovens and an AC system that couldn’t handle that cooling load. And that info came from one of the employees – not Glenn, he never spoke to anyone. Why people like that get into hospitality oriented businesses is beyond me.

    Firkin closed – well because, who wants to eat at a place called that? Their menu and web site loved to write firkin-this and firkin-that. Pre-adolescent humor at its nadir. Ever watch Idiocracy? What a rotten business concept.

    Remember that stir-fry place? I loved that place until management changed and service went down the tubes. I guess everyone else noticed as well. That spot is still empty.

    • August 11, 2011 2:41 pm

      I miss Urban Flats, that place was good, but I never remember a lot of people there. It didn’t last long unfortunately.

      • UrbanCommuter permalink*
        August 11, 2011 2:47 pm

        Actually they just reopened a couple of weeks ago. Not sure how business is doing though.

      • August 11, 2011 3:34 pm

        O! Lunch next week?

  2. August 11, 2011 8:38 pm

    I don’t believe the Lindbergh Station market is saturated at all. Have you seen all the empty, vacant spaces along Main Street and up and down the entire Lindbergh Station area? Most of these spaces have been sitting vacant for years. 4 years ago, the AJC wrote an article about this ‘Transit Oriented Development’ at Lindbergh, and how it was the latest trend in urban living. It is…in other cities that know how to develop these types of areas. Look at the DC area. Plenty of successful TODs. At Lindbergh, nothing has happened. Restaurants open and close. The area seems to be backsliding. Apartments sit empty and the whole area is stagnant. Economy is partly to blame and so is MARTA. Charging for parking is going to dissuade people from going there, regardless of 2 hour free validation. Why isn’t anyone taking the lead on this? 4 years later and nothing has happened. Unbelievable.

    • D.N. Nation permalink
      September 12, 2011 2:05 pm

      I live within walking distance of the former Bobby G’s. As do many friends. We never went there because the joint sucked.

  3. UrbanCommuter permalink*
    August 12, 2011 3:47 pm

    When I say oversaturated, I mean by restaurants, not by overall occupied retail space. There is a rather high number of quick service and casual dining in the area without the population to support it. Your reference to D.C. while valid to some extent does not relate in terms of success. D.C. is an area well accustomed to transit and more dense development. The same expectations cannot be levied in Atlanta as it is all relatively new to here.

    In regards to Lindbergh specifically, the apartments being empty is simply not true, I am not sure about Eon, but the remaining apartments in the area (extending down Lindbergh Dr.) are near or at capacity. MARTA is not to blame whatsoever. The economy halted all future planned development, including 3 high rises and multiple other apartment complexes that were suppose to go up in the area. All of the things built at and around Lindbergh was in anticipation of that development. Those other projects would have brought critical mass to the area, allowing a much larger pool of residents to pull from for business. Because these projects didnt happen, 100% attributed to the economy, that high number of residents never came, which didnt allow the new residential work to be built, therefore never creating the density to support all of the retail and restaurant space. No one can take the lead on this because there is nothing that can be done right now until the demand for housing goes back up. Demand goes up, more residents live there, warranting more services. There are some inherent design flaws to the development that affect businesses on Main Street, but could be fixed if the customer base and money was there. There is also the issue of poorly designed Piedmont Road which does not fluidly permit the passage of people from one side (Target, multiple apartment and condo complexes) to the other. If you saw Piedmont Road improved for pedestrians, and a greater number of residents (which we will see soon as a new mixed use project on Lindbergh has been approved) then you will see Lindbergh Station take off.

    Validated parking does not deter customers. If that was the case we would have seen all the restaurants fail. If validated or pay for parking was such a huge issue then Midtown would have failed, and all those developments in D.C. that you cited would have failed as well because they all charge for parking. You can give all the free parking you want at Lindbergh and it wont change anything, especially the fate of Bobby G’s.

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