Restaurants on Highland Ave struggle to stay open

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Maeve Malaney-Lau

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Sweet Auburn Barbecue has been in operation since 2015 and is a popular restaurant in Poncey-Highland.

Maeve Malaney-Lau

Sweet Auburn Barbecue has been in operation since 2015 and is a popular restaurant in Poncey-Highland.

Under the apartments at 675 N Highland, restaurants struggle to survive in the competitive environment. One restaurant, CO, has been open for over a year, and is finding creative ways to bring in new customers.

“We’ve done specials, and in the near future, we’re going to have some art events taking place and maybe even some live music,” general manager Brandon White said.

During the time that CO has been open, they’ve seen changes in the neighboring restaurants. Early last August, Rize Artisan Pizza closed its doors. Rize was the first restaurant to open under the apartments and was only able to stay open for nine months. A Chicago pizzeria called Gino’s East is set to open in its place.

“I’m super excited about it [Gino’s], I think it’s going to bring more people to the area,” White said.

When CO first opened, it got a lot of business as many families were excited to have a new place to eat. However, after the management changed earlier this year, customers have seen a significant decrease in quality.

“I really liked CO when it first opened, but I don’t really know how I feel about it anymore. I have definitely seen a change in their quality,” Poncey-Highland resident Ariel Simons said. “I don’t really eat there as often as I used to. I feel like they might go out of business soon.”

Most of CO’s customers come from the surrounding area of Poncey-Highland, so it’s important to keep the neighborhood happy and content with the food and service.

“We get a lot of young professionals and college students. A lot of our customers come from the apartmentments above,” White said. “Most people that come here live two blocks away or closer.”

CO isn’t the only popular restaurant in the area. Sweet Auburn Barbecue, a barbecue restaurant with Asian influences, has been open since  2014. The barbecue restaurant has been a favorite not only in the neighborhood, but also surrounding areas. In 2016, it was voted the best barbeque in Atlanta by AJC.

“Sweet Auburn is my favorite neighborhood restaurant for sure,” said Simons. “Their barbeque is amazing, and I would pick to eat there over any other restaurant in the area.”

The owner of Sweet Auburn is planning on opening Lazy Betty’s, a tasting menu restaurant, next to Sweet Auburn in the place of Soul Vegetarian No. 2. Soul Vegetarian was part of the largest chain of vegan restaurants in the world and was operated by Hebrew Israelite Community of Jerusalem.

“I was really sad to hear that it’s closing. As a vegan, I really enjoyed their food,” sophomore Kristen Hart said. “They made everything very flavorful, a lot of my friends didn’t even realize that all of their food is vegan.”

Further down the street from Sweet Auburn Barbecue, Atlanta Dental Spa has opened a new location. This building was previously occupied by Flip Burger, a restaurant owned by Top Chef contestant Richard Blais.

“Flip Burger was never my favorite restaurant, but I was sad to see it go,” Simons said. “I liked having a restaurant in that spot. It’s weird to see a dental spa there. It feels really out of place.”


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