The owners of an Oak Grove restaurant are strongly considering opening a second location in the building formerly occupied by Blue Rooster Café & Bakery in Old Town Lilburn.
Patch recently learned from Anthony and Jennifer Tiberia, who run Sprig restaurant on Lavista Road, that the duo is the newest contender in an ongoing quest to fill the vacant spot.
"We definitely want to," said Anthony Tiberia. "We love the space."
If the deal goes through, the Tiberias said they could open a Lilburn Sprig in the spring -- at the earliest.
No contract has been signed, and the cost of moving into the vacant Blue Rooster space is still being mulled over. But Anthony Tiberia said he and his wife are "98 percent" sure they'll be moving in.
The biggest draw for the couple is the feel of the neighborhood. The also like the idea of using local growers for some of the food the restaurant would use.
"We want to become involved in the community," Anthony Tiberia said. "It felt right."
Lilburn's Mayor Johnny Crist has been quietly talking with the couple about opening a Sprig on Main Street. And, until this past weekend, he would not divulge -- on the record -- that the Sprig owners were interested.
However, Sprig restaurant catered the Lilburn Art Alliance's event on Saturday, and the owners consequently opened up to several attendees -- including Patch -- about a likely move to the area.
"The Sprig is the right restaurant for the right location," Crist said, while standing outside the former Blue Rooster Cafe on Saturday. "I'm excitied out of my shoes."
The biggest selling point for him: That the Tiberias share the city's idea about preserving history, the farm-to-table concept and maintaining the feel of Old Town Lilburn.
"They're not just big people coming in -- they are us," the mayor added.
There have been several proposals for the space, but the cost to turn it into a new, inviting restaurant has continued to be a hurdle. Anthony and Jennifer Tiberia said that's what it will come down to for them, as well.
The space needs a number of upgrades before any food service business could open there. The Tiberias have been working with engineers to discern what those critical needs are, and whether using the existing structure is cost effective.
"When this building became available it was imperative that we buy this building as a city -- the DDA -- in order to control what happens downtown," the mayor said, "because whatever happens in this building sets the standard for the city of Lilburn.
"If this becomes a tattoo parlor, (or) it becomes a store for consignment, we have no chance. This is the diamond ring. This has to be a restaurant -- has to be."
Blue Rooster Café & Bakery closed its doors shortly after Christmas in 2011. By October, city council had approved a loan deal for the Downtown Development Authority to purchase the building and focus on finding a new tenant.
In the meantime, the city plans to use the facility as an event and meeting space for the newly formed Lilburn Art Alliance.
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