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Speak Out: Future of Old Blue Rooster Site

The old Blue Rooster Café & Bakery location in Lilburn has been vacant for more than a year and a half. What do you think should go there?

Old Town Lilburn just isn't the same with the closed Blue Rooster Café & Bakery languisihing on Main Street.

For a year and a half now, it's sat empty -- a literal shell of what it used to be.

Mayor Johnny Crist has said he'd like to see a top-notch restaurant come to the location. It could be a virtual beacon for other changes to come, and make the area a destination, he said.

However, there are improvements that would have to be made, he added.

Property records show the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) purchased the building for $160,000 in October 2011.

The DDA had hopes of quickly leasing it to a restaurant operator. , but, to date, the facility has not been rented.

There's growing support for just knocking the whole thing down and constructing a replica building -- "something new that looks and feels old," said Doug Stacks, director of planning and development for Lilburn.

"The thought is that redeveloping the site would help start a pattern of development that would be followed throughout Old Town," he said in an email response. "However, no official decision has been made or funding secured to do that."

The DDA also is willing to sell the building for $200,000, which could help decide things, Stacks added. According to property records, the site is currently valued at $208,000.

So, we're asking, with no sealed deal 20 months after closing and the economy still in a quandary, what should the Downtown Development Authority do about the former Blue Rooster location?

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Other Blue Rooster stories:

Kathy. S. Rice August 20, 2012 at 10:24 AM
Have you thought of it as a "pop up" restaurant. This idea is very popular in other cities. It could be a very fun idea.
Rosalie August 20, 2012 at 10:50 AM
Being "Old Town Lilburn" has walking shops, A coffee shop "not necessary a StarBuck" , but I shop you can stop into for a coffee, hot chocolate, etc and maybe pasties . And enjoy a cup of coffee, a sweet treat, and continue shopping. Rosalie Marques
RL August 20, 2012 at 11:47 AM
The City of Lilburn had no business buying that building. They should not be in the commercial real estate business. With that said, sell it at cost to someone that wants to put a pub in there. Of course, that would rock the "Mayberry" persona the city is trying to achieve.
Richard Ferris August 20, 2012 at 12:05 PM
A Cafe and Bakery worked well before. Why change a good formula!
monteal purcella August 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM
As a former employee of the blue roo ...the location is Great and even as well as the blue rooster seemed to be doing it was poorly managed (financally ,budget ,even illegial in some respects ..) i think someone should call the always fresh resterant and make a deal for him to take the space ..i know there was interest from him at some point but was concerned about the condition of the space ..he runs a great place in every way and has a solid clientelle ! His formula is even similiar.adding homemade bbq ....IMHO monteal
Joan Clipp August 20, 2012 at 12:35 PM
I would love to see something like the Work Spot in Duluth, a place where people with home based businesses or artists/crafters could go and work every day, or occasionally, meet in a communal office setting when they like, and also a coffee shop/used book store for part of the space. That would be fantastic, I'd love to help set it up. I have shown some of my art/craft and taken writing classes in various businesses in downtown Lilburn, I think it could work!
Rethinknow August 20, 2012 at 01:22 PM
RL has hit at least a portion of the problem very well. The City (as in us, the tax payer) should not be in the commercial Real estate business AT ALL. As a side note, don’t let anyone tell you the money is not from the YOU the tax payer. The DDA (Downtown Development Authority) got the $160,000 from YOU! The current/past DDA is made up (essentially) of the same people that have been “steering” Lilburn for years and years and years. And here we are hoping. Now this next statement is “tar and feather” talk. Do you know what the DDA does? After 6 years? Check it out , Pay special attention to the menu choice “DDA accomplishments” http://www.lilburndda.govoffice2.com/
Joy L. Woodson August 20, 2012 at 01:38 PM
That's a very interesting idea, Joan. I've been to the work spot several times for meetings, and it always seems to have people in it -- working.
Connie Breland Georges August 20, 2012 at 02:39 PM
I would love to see an old country store with restaurant, It would provide the simpler way of life in Lilburn.
Joy L. Woodson August 20, 2012 at 02:43 PM
Hmmm, an old country store is another idea I wonder if city folks have though on. Thanks for the comment Connie!
Laura N'Cognito August 20, 2012 at 02:45 PM
A nice farm/fresh to table restaurant of good quality would be perfect for this community. So many of us leave the area to go find decent quality restaurants as there is nothing much in this area anymore worth trying. If you want to draw people back to the community, you're going to have to appeal to a different market. You have good music/concerts next door and a beautiful park all within walking distance. What a great way to cater to the concert goers, offer catering/takeout for a picnic in the park. Also providing a nice atmosphere with good healthy food for those people after a nice walk in the park, come back into the area after work, shopping, etc...However, this type of place needs to stay open unitl at least 10:00pm, otherwise you're not going to get the community back in...we all work outside of the area.
Susan Coker August 20, 2012 at 03:14 PM
I agree! Bring back a cafe, a place for sandwiches and desserts.
Mike Smith August 20, 2012 at 03:29 PM
No government, including our city council and DDA, should use taxpayer money to speculate on real-estate. First, once we allow anyone, including government bureaucrats, to risk money they did not earn, malinvestment is sure to follow. Second, it is immoral to use a businessman's taxes to support his competition. It is both appropriate and necessary for the DDA to buy land for PUBLIC uses like the main street relocation and the library/city hall, but the purchases designed for commercial use are both an abuse of government authority and economically unsound.
RL August 20, 2012 at 04:02 PM
Mike - you nailed it. Still need a local place to get a good pint!
Barbara Barth August 20, 2012 at 04:39 PM
Joan, like your idea. If they make it into a place for artists and writers I'll bring the Gwinnett County writers guild and critique group back to Old Town. Miss the folks there. I'd love to pitch in to help with writing events, classes, etc. Then toss in a cafe and you'd have a perfect spot to bring activity and food. Perhaps get Music On Main involved with their students. Food is a must for Old Town. But how fun to have a mixed use space.
Barbara Barth August 20, 2012 at 04:42 PM
More comments from me- since I had a shop in Old Town for a short time period. Old Town is wonderful and it does need food. Love the suggestions above - but all the speculation is great. It has been too long, many lookers, no idea what happened to them, since I am gone now too. But the answer is to get it up and running with food and any other activity to make it work financially or it will be another year. Action speaks louder than words!
Sandy E. August 20, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Laura--I agree with you that there is much potential for a restaurant in the old Blue Rooster location. I would love to come back to downtown Lilburn to eat!
Kelley Wilson August 20, 2012 at 07:50 PM
It has to be something that will keep people coming around at all times of day not just a lunchtime shop. I do love the idea of knocking it down and rebuilding it to look old because once the economy is back and the other plans get going that will just look old, worn and a sore thumb. Besides if it is better looking unlike now it might attract a better restaurant which Lilburn DESPERATELY needs. I love the idea of a farm to table place with beer and wine.
KM August 20, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Yes, a good quality restaurant! Something good to walk to, and yes open past commute hours.
john speight August 20, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Look at Local 7 Tavern on Main St. in Tucker.
Debra Houston August 21, 2012 at 11:15 AM
I hope they don't tear down the old buildings. You can't build a new building that feels old. They ruined the looks of old Lilburn when they cut down the trees. I like the idea of coffee shop/writer's guild. Gwinnett needs to foster its writers. Debbie
Joy L. Woodson August 21, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Thanks everyone for all your comments. I do know that leaders in Lilburn are reading this, so let's give them a few more ideas if you have any to share.
Debra Houston August 22, 2012 at 11:11 AM
Please, don't knock down the buildings in "old" Lilburn. It won't be old Lilburn if you knock down the buildings. Developers are going to tear down the charm. Go elsewhere to develop. Old Lilburn is one of the few historical sights we have left.
Estrella Velazquez August 22, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Pastry/coffee/sandwich wifi "work" spot by day, bar/gastropub by night. Sunday brunch. Live music one night a week, local artists. Small outdoor seating area. Just because it's "old" Lilburn doesn't mean it has to be "old" charm. It does, however, have to WOW the surrounding community into supporting it. Just my .02.
David Adams August 23, 2012 at 02:39 PM
FYI, there are DDA's in Norcross, Lawrenceville, and other areas operating very effectively. DDA's are an arm of the cities and are the think tank and responsible for many of the improvements you see in these small towns...other DDA's also buy property FOR PROFIT some leasing them, or resale. Your accusatory comments have no basis. Lilburn's DDA, in reality has not gone far enough with the purchase and resale of properties for redevelopment. The other property owners in the main street area could do more to support the restoration of the Blue Rooster, as well.
David Adams August 23, 2012 at 02:42 PM
I'll have to go with RL on the pint thing...
Rosalie August 23, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I just don't think it would be a good idea to be open late at night and or serving drinks and etc. Residents (famlies) are just down the block. It should go with the flow of the town. You have small country stores and etc. Say, put in a bakery, home made bread, and canned jellies and maybe sandwiches. Someplace you could stop and pick up something quick to eat or bring home goodies for dinner.
Scott Mecredy August 23, 2012 at 11:00 PM
This is Scott, owner of Music On Main Street (Obviously very concerned about the future of that property) and I was about to post the very same comment. It's a great combination of atmosphere and quality food. I support the members of the DDA in their effort to make sure that the property becomes something great for Old Town - and having attended several meetings on the subject, I know they are more than open to feedback and support from other members of the community.
Bruce penn October 24, 2012 at 11:04 PM
A restaurant that has an urban flavor to it would help those of us who frequently leave the area and go into Decatur and Atlanta for dinner. The country motif is great at Cracker Barrel! Would really like something more sophisticated for Lilburn.
Ben December 11, 2012 at 02:37 PM
The Problem I see this former restaurant is off of the main drag, The Blue Rooster done well, after everyone knew there was a great place to eat there, This again would be hard to do, because people in the Restaurant busness want to be seen, have a lot of Cars passing by each & every hour, Business people know it will take a lot of money to set up a restaurant, staff it and hope to get business, Not just someone that wants a cup of Coffee or hot chocolate, when the walk down the street in old town Lilburn, the need to serve a Lunch, Dinner, Drinks & So forth, and lots of it. I will be the first one to say, that Lilburn needs a good restaurant, because there is only fast food here, Out Back Steak House used to be haere, I hear they when up on there Rent, so they took off. Lilburn does not even have a Dairy Queen.in the City. If the space can't be leased to a restaurant, then lease it to someone that will put another type of business in there, Pay the rent, make money if possible, and have another vacant spaced filled. The City of Lilburn is loosing money each and everyday keeping this place vacant.

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