A Slice of N.Y. Lands in Buckhead
December 13, 2013
A Slice of N.Y. Lands in Buckhead
Atlanta Business Chronicle

by Amy Wenk

Buckhead Atlanta has landed an upscale French bistro, bringing a slice of the Big Apple to the city. San Diego developer OliverMcMillan has signed a lease with Manhattan-based Le Bilboquet for a 3,200-square-foot restaurant in its 8-acre mixed-use project at Peachtree and East Paces Ferry roads. When it opens around summer 2014, the Atlanta location will be the fourth in the world for Le Bilboquet, a hot spot located near New York City’s Central Park for more than 25 years. It also has restaurants in Dallas and Sao Paulo. “Through the years, we have had an awful lot of clients from Atlanta,” said restaurant co-owner Rick Wahlstedt. “Buckhead is obviously the living center of Atlanta in our mind. We just thought this would be a perfect fit.” It’s a sign of broad momentum for Buckhead Atlanta, a long-awaited redevelopment of the former bar district in the Buckhead Village. The project, once known as Streets of Buckhead, had stalled during the Great Recession under its original developer. But this year, Buckhead Atlanta has taken significant steps forward. “I think it speaks to the market and to the quality of the project,” said Penelope Cheroff, president of Atlanta restaurant and retail brokerage The Cheroff Group Ltd. OliverMcMillan this summer landed its anchor office tenant — the $1 billion, underwear company Spanx Inc. The Atlanta-based business also plans to open a flagship retail store there. The developer also secured this summer its $167 million construction loan, led by PNC Capital Markets LLC. Now, the restaurants and retail are ramping up. “We have over 600 workers on site on a daily basis,” said OliverMcMillan’s Hunter Richardson, who manages the project. “That kind of energy is why we see so much construction progress on a daily basis. It’s a real exciting time for this project and for Buckhead and for Atlanta to have this kind of economic engine.” Although OliverMcMillan has been silent about the tenants it’s signed, Le Bilboquet is among the leases beginning to leak out. It seems worth bragging about. “Within the context of Buckhead Atlanta, they are sort of a jewel box,” Richardson said. The restaurant will be surrounded by oak trees in a courtyard on the parcel bounded by Peachtree Road, Pharr Road and Buckhead Avenue, he said. “It is sort of nestled into the center of the project,” Richardson said. “It contributes greatly to the ambiance we are trying to create throughout the project.” Wahlstedt said he’s excited about finally opening in Atlanta. He had committed to the project back when it was Ben Carter’s Streets of Buckhead. “It’s the longest restaurant opening in history,” he joked. Le Bilboquet, which translates to “concierge” or “caretaker,” will be open every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. “It’s a very good name for a place that puts a great value on taking care of the client,” Wahlstedt said. “Le Bilboquet is like a meeting place. It becomes a very interesting meeting point for people.” Among its specialties, he said, are dishes such as Cajun chicken and tuna tartare. A section of the restaurant operates as a café with takeout items such as coffee and croissants. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Wahlstedt said. “Our food is very approachable.” Just a handful of other restaurants are confirmed for Buckhead Atlanta. The project should have nine or 10 eateries, Richardson said. Many should open around summer 2014. Here’s a rundown : - Doraku Sushi is planning its sixth location at Buckhead Atlanta. The concept that first opened in South Beach, Fla., is from Kevin Aoki, son of the founder of Benihana. The restaurant, which also has locations in Hawaii and Vietnam, has extensive sushi and sake menus. - Gypsy Kitchen and The Southern Gentlemen are two concepts coming to Buckhead Atlanta from the founders of Atlanta’s The Big Ketch and Tin Lizzy’s. The two restaurants will share a 10,000-square-foot spot. Gypsy Kitchen will be a Spanish fusion concept. The Southern Gentleman will be a gastropub. - Shake Shack will open its first Georgia location at Buckhead Atlanta. The burger, hot dog and frozen custard stand from New York City restaurateur Danny Meyer and Union Square Hospitality Group will take about 2,500 square feet and will have a rooftop deck. - Georgetown Cupcake also is planning to enter the market with a spot at Buckhead Atlanta. The bakery is featured on the TLC network show “DC Cupcakes.” The diversity is sure to bolster Atlanta’s growing food culture, say local experts. “Thanks to people like Anne Quatrano and Kevin Rathbun, Atlanta is quickly gaining traction as a national food destination,” said Eric Weatherholtz, principal at Healey Weatherholtz Properties LLC, which owns the Shops Around Lenox center in Buckhead. “Combine that with an affluent neighborhood like Buckhead and top restaurateurs take notice.”

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