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Visions for Vacancies: What Should Go in Suwanee Town Center?

The recent closure of Olde Towne leaves not one, but two vacant restaurant properties. Share your thoughts.

When Olde Towne Tavern and Grille closed abruptly on December 20, it only added to the restaurant-type retail vacancies in Suwanee Town Center.

For several months, landlord Madison Retail has been marketing another 4,200 square foot restaurant suite in a Town Center building near Golden Seven and Mellow Mushroom.

And already, it has posted a "for lease" notice on the front door of Olde Towne, the same front entrance that contains a bankruptcy court notice.

Town Center, of course, is a live-work-play development that includes City Hall and Town Center Park. Although City Hall and the park belong to taxpayers, the surrounding business and residential lofts are controlled by private developers.

There are two factors at work in filling such suites.

The restaurant scene in Suwanee in general is improving. In 2012, such casual dining eateries as Tilted Kilt, Gulf Coast Grill, Suwanee Pizza Tavern and Hammerhead's have opened in various areas of Suwanee.

However, in general, retail commercial space is struggling in the city. The most recent figures from Suwanee officials show the .

-- So now we ask, is there a market for two more restaurants in Town Center? Would you like to see Olde Towne revived, or another type of restaurant in the city's signature development? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

You might also enjoy reading:

  • Visions for Vacancies: What Should Go in This Suwanee Strip Mall?

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Greg Winey December 26, 2012 at 04:15 PM
It’s sad to see “yet another” small business fail in Suwanee Towne Center. The issue is NOT “what’s next” in regard to another restaurant, art gallery, ice cream shop, wine bar, café, etc. How many small business have come in gone in Suwanee over the past year(s)? Sadly, plenty. It’s a matter of math. Small businesses have fixed cost and when the economy softens, they can’t recover fast enough. Rent needs to be determined as a % of sales – just like any franchise. Rent is the biggest expense next to payroll. You can change payroll costs by cutting staff, working more hours yourself as an owner, but you CAN’T change rent. Additionally, you have no leverage when you rent because you don’t have an appreciable asset. You CAN’T borrow against the asset. Time to wake up – fixed leases are generally a very poor way to go. You will never own the space and the costs are the same whether you’re struggling or thriving. If you want to fix the problem, over a better solution to small business operators “fixed” costs. Maybe get creative and let the small business operator “own” the space after a period of time. This way, everyone has an equal, long – term VESTED interest in the deal surviving.
Jack Bisikirski December 26, 2012 at 04:25 PM
A gathering place that can offer a small bite to eat but also have live entertainment. No so much a bar then a place to kick back play cards or board games grab some coffee and snacks and listen to mellow music.
Steve Burns (Editor) December 26, 2012 at 04:38 PM
Thanks for the comments.
J. McIntosh December 26, 2012 at 05:41 PM
I would love to see Olde Towne Tavern revived or a similar type of restaurant. It has that "bar food" type of VARIETY that none of the other restaurants there have! A great place to meet with local friends, where no one has to be in the mood for a particular type of food. I did feel the prices were high on most items, but I will really miss that restaurant and the opportunity to watch Auburn games there! I really believe that menu VARIETY is important in that location to bring more widespread appetites, adults and families. If not Olde Towne Tavern, then something similar to Chili's or Applebee's would still bring some variety. I'd really rather it not be a "chain" like those, though. I know Tavern was somewhat of a chain, but it seemed more individualized than that.
J. McIntosh December 26, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Witnessing over yrs what happened in Duluth when landlords don't budge & demand high rent. Publix Station@Buf Hy & Old P'tr lost tenants due to rent & is about 2/3 vacant. Kauffmn Tire, Hallmark, Blockbuster, beauty supply, cleaners have gone over the years.The other downfall to the area is decades ago, local residents made sure that Sugarlf subdiv couldnt keep its original entrance once complete. Existing neighborhoods feared traffic on Old P'tree. The original entrance closed, causing traffic headed toward downtown Duluth to exit @ Sug. Pky & ironically travel more of Old P'tree than they would have. Once the Old P'tree gate was sealed, Sug. residents exiting onto Sug. Pky were closer to the restaurants, banks, stores@Meadow Ch & Sug, rather than those at Publix, Buf Hy. Walgreens & other Dul. business, causing a shift in patronage for convenience. Redistricting high schools also changed what parts of Dul/Suw people needed to go through.Newer Sug. residents are not familiar with parts of "the real Duluth", if they don't need to go that way anymore.Sad changes as "the real Duluth" has so much to offer.Fortunately many of us know the area & use it with warmth & community connection. Suw Twn Ctr needs the same, to draw locals to gather @ all times of year-not just nice weather.I truly hope a good restaurant comes that offers variety for a strong, devoted following.
Tom Wood December 26, 2012 at 10:15 PM
Jack, I appreciate what you are thinking, but....if a group of people were just hanging out playing cards or board games, listening to 'entertainment', which does not come without a price, I question whether the occasional purchase of 'snacks and coffee' will cover the costs. Where is the incentive for the owner? Profit is a necessary component of a successful business and I don't see much of it in this concept. I understand that some do not care for establishments that serve alcohol, and I have no problem with that, but check around with local 'restaurant' owners and see what pays the bills.
Vic December 27, 2012 at 02:07 AM
The rent is too high. You can get a much better price on rent in other locations and the landlord needs to be willing to work with tenants until they can get established. The location is great -- the hub of the city with the park and events that go on all the time. I think a lot of folks would be willing to set up business if they could just afford the spot!
Susan Edwards December 27, 2012 at 04:50 AM
The rents in the Town Center are outrageous! Savvy Nail salon, Geraniums, Chocolatte, etc, were paying $9000/month in rent!! And they were on the side street, not even on the main street. What small business can handle that and make any money? NONE! Those rents must come down...maybe by half, at least for the first 6month-year, so the businesses can get established. Lower rent is better than NO rent!
Susan Edwards December 27, 2012 at 04:54 AM
I would love to see a Panera Bread restaurant go in there. The other restaurant space would do great with a Bonefish or Marlows or Dominicks type restaurant! It was nice having Olde Towne but it was never run in a way that was efficient, the food quality was uneven, the servers seems inexperienced. What ever happened to the Lil River Grill that was supposed to go in there?
J. McIntosh December 27, 2012 at 08:19 AM
I'm wondering if those condos above are high cost also, as they appear to be mostly vacant.
Vic December 27, 2012 at 04:24 PM
All the condos on the Olde Towne Tavern side are occupied with happy tenants. All the condos on the Mellow Mushroom side are empty and unfinished inside -- they're not on the market. Kinda overpriced!
Michael Brown December 28, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Too bad the downtown food and entertainment can't be as nice at that of Buford. Perhaps the rent in Buford is more afforadable.
Michael Brown December 28, 2012 at 09:01 PM
The last time we ate there, earlier this month, the food & service were the worst I've EVER had. It was a true waste of hard earned money. I agree that a Marlows would work very well in that space. It's a same because the atomsphere is great there.
Jon December 29, 2012 at 04:43 AM
We are unfortunately a terrible restaurant town. The only places that survive long term are mediocre chains. Go to any small business restaurant on a non weekend night and there are no crowds at all or anytime after 8. Very disappointing..
Lila Adams January 03, 2013 at 02:11 AM
Quit with the old grill/pub/sports bar look and modernize with something cool and urban. This place needs a style overhaul. The Tavern had the worst service EVER!!! The staff was talking in the back rather than wait tables. The management was vacant. So they got what they deserved. Eateries have to stay in style and provide good food with GREAT service and a nice atmosphere - something exciting and different brings the crowds. Suwanee is tired of sports bars. Too much look alike. Rent there is too high for the same old same old.
Lila Adams January 03, 2013 at 02:37 AM
We need some atmosphere like Pure in Duluth or Cinco's but not necessarily a mexican eatery... just better vibe and more exciting decor to create some fun and interest.

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