Pizza Joint v. Applebees experience

So after a few months, I’ve made an interesting observation about my location. I desperately wanted to open a neighborhood joint - a restaurant with a gritty feel where my family greeted the tables and people acted as if they were at home. I’m in a fairly affluent suburb of Kansas City and have observed that most of my guests have very little appreciation for gritty. They have been trained to appreciate the “Appleebees” experience (for lack of a better term). They expect to be greeted by a well-dressed 18 YO immediately when the come in the door, they expect their server to give them a prepared speel about the appetizers in a robotic voice, they expect perfectly round pizzas with evenly spaced toppings, etc. I’ve adapted and it’s going fine, it’s just interesting.

My wife and kids were in Minneapolis last weekend and ate at a great place called Fat Lorenzos. It had a really gritty neighborhood feel to it which I loved. But, I’m confident my clientele would not.

I feel like, if I’d opened in mid-town KC, it would be a completely different restaurant. Funny how different people can be.

Anyone else have this experience?

You’re absolutely right. Every location has its own little “quirks”. What is right at home and works well in one location, doesn’t work at all in another location. The same can be said for the pizzas too. This is why it is so important for a new operator to get to know the area where he/she is looking to open a new store before making any solid commitments. This is the very reason why the big chains have such a problem in New York City, while the independants continue to do quite well. The same might be said for trying to push thick crust pizzas in St. Louis too. We’ve got a place here in Manhattan (Kansas) where they bring bowls of peanuts to the tables and you’re supposed to drop the shells onto the floor (great looking floor) due to the polishing and peanut oil from all of those shells. Now, fast forward, I’m in another city, similar type of place, casual, plank wood floors, bowls of peanuts at the tables. After eating several handfulls of peanuts and dropping the shells onto the floor, I get a dirty look from one of the srevers, then she brings us an empty bowl and says “this is for the peanut shells”. Oops…Sorry! It was only then that I did notice that the other tables had a larger bowl for the shells and two smaller bowls for the peanuts. Our table didn’t have the larger bowl. Go figure.
Tom Lehmann/The Dough Doctor

I used to have a take out italian spot in the hood. But near the hospital, allot of cops started eating there. But allot of our business right off the bat was dope boys and just black people. working class and bums.

Our stuff was higher end, cost allot and they didnt care. It took maybe 6 months until I saw a white face, then we got more and more.

Here is my fear, Im starting another place, from stratch and its going to be in a white middle class area and I get the fear those people are only into Taco Bell’s $2 Menu. It seems like when you have money you dont spend it or care on the quality. If you dont have money you will spend on something nice tasting.

This is scaring me! Am I totally off base?? Is it something I kinda notice driving around that every franchises window art is all $3!!! $5 Sub!! $4 Lunches! and still that place isn’t packed? But the mom and pops, do they even trust them or try them on a daily basis?

:shock: :frowning: :?

Does anyone agree? Has anyone notice this? Am I totally off and stop worrying?

I still like to believe that people will stop at the “mom & pop” places and pay a fair price for a great meal. We all know what quality of food you get for $2 - $7 at any chain or fast food place. It tastes bad… usually been sitting around for a while… and not healthy in any shape or form. Not to mention, how many people actually get out of those places paying $2 or $3 dollars. I hate fast food but had to suck it up and went through the Mcd’s the other day with wife and kid because we were late for an event and no time but to eat in the car. Well, 3 value meals… make mine a larger drink… my wife got a bottled water…omg… I could live off the bottled water profit they make… and my 3 year old had to get an ice cream just to keep her happy… $20! Was the Shrek Donkey watch worth it? :shock:

I think many business owners get too focused on what ‘they’ want their shop/food to be like and lose sight of the fact that we are serving and doing business (or not as the case may be) with CUSTOMERS.

It’s the CUSTOMERS wants and needs that we are here to satisfy NOT the other way around. Of course you can alter ‘what they want’ by clever marketing but if you have the skill to do that well then’ you’re in the wrong business to start with!