Burger 21 beefing up metro Atlanta presence

Burger 21, a Tampa-based “fast casual” restaurant chain that moved into metro Atlanta last year, plans to add locations in Buckhead, the Cumberland Mall area of Smyrna and in North Druid Hills, the company said Wednesday.

The plans increase the number of restaurants in development to eight for the metro area. The chain opened its first local restaurant in Buford near the Mall of Georgia in Gwinnett County last summer.

“We are actively in the site selection process with [franchisees] for the Atlanta market,” Dan Stone, vice president of franchise development for Front Burner Brands, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Front Burner Brands is the management company for Burger 21.

The three latest Burger 21s in development will be built by local franchisee Chris Bastecki, who is also a franchisee of Jimmy John’s locations. Bastecki’s first Burger 21 will be built next year in Buckhead, possibly by the second quarter.

“It is possible that one or more locations could open prior to the Buckhead location,” Stone said. “It depends on when leases are finalized and executed for the sites that are being pursued are secured. Commercial real estate site availability has been tight in Atlanta.”

The fast casual restaurant category, which includes Zaxby’s, Jersey Mike’s and Dickey’s Barbecue, is fast growing, according to Technomics, which tracks restaurants.

In its most recent report, Technomics said the fast casual segment continues to steal market share from full-service restaurants like Red Lobster and limited-service restaurants like McDonald’s.

Fast casual restaurants make up 15 percent of the $231 billion limited-service restaurant segment, with sales rising 11 percent last year, while all limited-service chains grew by only 3.5 percent, Technomics reported.

Burger 21, which serves craft beer and wine, has a menu that includes specialty burgers such as the Tex-Mex Haystack, Spicy Thai Shrimp, Black Bean and Chicken Marsala.

The chain also has franchise agreements for locations in Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Kennesaw and the Perimeter Mall area. Franchisees can expect to invest about $422,083 to $994,395 per restaurant.

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