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Two new Suwanee restaurants take advantage of vacant buildings

SUWANEE -- Empty real estate combined with an attractive demographic has made Suwanee appealing to two restaurant chains. Twisted Taco and Tilted Kilt are each expected to open new stores in Suwanee in the next two months, which could be a sign of the state of the commercial real estate market as much as the restaurant industry.

Tilted Kilt expects a soft opening on March 12, while Twisted Taco is expected to open in mid-April. The businesses will bring more than 100 jobs to the local economy.

"There are obviously a lot of negatives about our economy," said Mark Hanby, vice president of development for Tilted Kilt. "But one of the positives is you occasionally get the opportunity to take advantage of real estate opportunities."

Twisted Taco will move into the old Chili's location in Highland Station at 3433 Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, while Tilted Kilt's location is at 1500 Satellite Blvd.

Tilted Kilt is a Scottish-Irish themed pub that features beer, fish and chips, meat loaf and Shepherd's pie. The staff wears a kilt, white knee socks, plaid bra and exposed midriff. The Tilted Kilt concept originated in Las Vegas in 2003.

Bo Singireddy, a local information technology consultant, and five friends have decided to open a Tilted Kilt of their own after falling in love with the place during a regular visit.

This is the eighth location in metro Atlanta.

"My friends and I are all in IT, but we decided to start a different kind of business," Singireddy said. "We went to a few other Atlanta locations and liked what we saw."

Singireddy said that, like other Tilted Kilts, his business will be "a fun place with 50-plus-inch TVs and good, inexpensive food."

Twisted Taco is a Tex-Mex style sports bar that features more than 60 tequila varieties. This is the seventh location around metro Atlanta.

The franchisee for Twisted Taco is Gavin Abadi, who is also a part-owner of Twisted Taco locations in Johns Creek and Buckhead.

One attractive point for both restaurants was the existing structure. Handy said walls, a gas line and restrooms that were already established proved to be a substantial savings.

"The building itself worked out perfectly to be transformed into a Twisted Taco," Abadi said in an email. "It is a lot easier to build a restaurant where one had been before, rather than start out from scratch."

For Tilted Kilt, the Suwanee location also yielded an appealing demographic that is an average age of 37.5 with some college education, Hanby said.

Josh Campbell, planning director for the city of Suwanee, said the turning point for these businesses came recently after the last decade saw restaurants enter multi-tenant shopping center or a single custom building.

"Now we have an existing building sitting there waiting to be used," Campbell said. "Now people are going into these buildings, and people are going into these empty spaces."

Campbell added that these restaurants could be a spark that brings other businesses into the area.

"Restaurants attract other users," Campbell said. "So when they're going into a shopping center, it could help to reactivate the shopping center."

Painters at the Twisted Taco were nearly finished late last month, but Abadi said one delay is the installation of five "private old fashioned wild west style jail cells" and a flat screen television for each booth.

"We are very excited about joining the community, and look forward to the opportunity to serve," Abadi said.

Staff writer Frank Reddy contributed to this story.