Even before Old Town Hibachi Buffet opened, there were people pulling up to the Lawrenceville Highway business hoping for a new food choice.
Finally, the doors opened to the public on Aug. 28, and despite the rain, the seating area filled up quickly during the afternoon lunch rush.
Chef and owner Kevin Hu said -- through a translator -- that he was excited about the opening.
"Actually, we're not ready, but it's a surprise that everybody turned out," he said. "We didn't expect the turnout in this weather."
Representatives from the city of Lilburn were some of the first people to walk through the doors. Mayor Johnny Crist, City Manager Bill Johnsa and Police Chief Bruce Hedley were among those city leaders.
Not one of the leaders had complaints about the lunch, and all went back for seconds. At $6.50 per person for the lunch buffet, the prices were on par with other low-priced lunch meals.
Eventually, the new restaurant will be located within a shopping center that is adjacent to the new $10 million city government/county library complex, which is expected to be completed by December 2013.
The shopping center, called Ashley Square, is poised to have a Smoothie King, a possible pizza shop and other businesses that will support the new government area, said David Adams, a broker with property owner NDI Development LLC.
"This place is going to jump off the ground," he said.
For NDI -- which manages a number of shopping centers including Lilburn Marketplace at 4805 Lawrenceville Highway -- it's about common, community sense, Adams added.*
"We want to do something that's community related," he said, while taking a minute from lunch. "We're not just throwing down shopping centers."
Norman Nash, chairman of the Lilburn Downtown Development Authority, said the Old Town Hibachi Buffet is a welcome addition to the city.
"It looks great in here, I think it should do great business," he said. "We don't have many new conveniences (in Lilburn), so this should be good."
Restaurant officials said it been a lot of work opening the 6,200-square-foot facility, and there was a personal investment of $300,000 of their own money, Adams said.
Hu and his general manager, Jeff Lai, said they are hoping to open several more "Old Towns" in the Atlanta area.
So for them, it's more than a restaurant on Lawrenceville Highway, it's gateway for better things to come. It has to be.
For more information: Old Town Hibachi Buffet is located at 4800 Lawrenceville Highway in Lilburn. Contact the restaurant at 770-935-6886 or 770-6883. The price for the breakfast buffet is $7.99, lunch buffet is $6.50, and dinner is $7.99 Monday - Thursday and $8.99 Friday -Sunday. The restaurant opens each day at 11 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. Monday - Thursday and Sunday, and at 10:30 p.m. Friday - Saturday. (These hours may change in the future, so call the business to be sure.)
*(Editor's Note: This story has been altered to reflect that NDI Development LLC is the property manager for Lilburn Marketplace.)