Let’s face it. Most chain restaurants are pretty uninspiring, especially when compared to the food served at independent establishments run by local chefs and restaurateurs. But there are just some chain restaurants people can’t pass up, for any number of reasons, no matter how loyal they are to the local restaurant scene.
Atlanta includes its fair share of chain restaurants, with more opening every year around town, but there’s big buzz surrounding these four chains headed to ATL, and folks here seem really excited.
This Texas-based fast food chain rakes in more than $3 billion annually from sales of its wildly popular, customizable burgers topped with Whataburger’s signature spicy and fancy ketchups. Earlier this year, the company announced plans to expand to Georgia, opening eight new restaurants in the state over the next two years. This includes locations in Kennesaw and Woodstock opening this year, with restaurants in Cumming and Buford opening in 2023. A Whataburger is already open in Thomasville near the Georgia-Florida state line.
Franchisees Abid Khutliwala and Saleem Lakhani are bringing 15 locations of the Canadian-based coffee and sandwich chain to metro Atlanta and Columbus over the next five years. Just where in metro Atlanta the duo plans to open these locations of Tim Hortons (Tim’s or Timmies, for short) is unclear, but people familiar with the brand can expect its French vanilla lattes and frozen hot chocolates, breakfast sandwiches, and doughnuts to be on the menu. Tim Hortons is currently Canada’s largest coffee chain, with nearly 5,000 locations in 15 countries, including the U.S. Annual sales topped $2.25 billion in 2021.
Another Texas-based chain brings 60 varieties of doughnuts, including Shipley’s signature plain glazed doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, and kolaches, to Duluth by the end of the year. Another 30 locations are planned for Georgia, too. Shipley has a hard road ahead of it to overcome Atlanta’s fierce loyalty to another Southern doughnut chain, Krispy Kreme with its hot glazed doughnuts. Shipley includes over 300 franchises throughout the South as well as in Colorado.
Dedicated vegan restaurants aren’t as hard to come by in Atlanta as they once were, thanks to breakout restaurants like Slutty Vegan, Plant-Based Pizzeria, and Grass VBQ Joint and the continued advocacy by area institutions such as Tassili’s Raw Reality Cafe and Lov’n it Live. And it appears full-service vegan restaurant chain Planta may have not one, but two in-town Atlanta locations in the works, according to Tomorrow’s News Today. Founded in 2016 by Steven Salm and chef David Lee, the first Planta location is slated to take over the former Watchman’s Seafood and Spirits space at Krog Street Market later this year, with the other possibly headed to Buckhead. There are currently ten Planta locations in the U.S. and Canada, including in Florida, New York, and Toronto.