What the New York Times Doesn’t Know About Your Independent Restaurants

I nearly spit out my cornflakes, sitting at the breakfast table on my deck recently, as I read the headline on the home page of the New York Times: “For Diners With Deep Pockets, Dallas Is the New Dubai.”

First of all, Dallas is not the new Dubai.

But still, it made me think.

A few decades ago, no one knew how to chain the level of quality required for a high-end restaurant.

Then people, including some of my clients, figured out how.

That changed the game. Independents stopped being the sole owners of the high-end guest.

So what does this mean to you?

The article covered the landing of luxury corporate restaurants that have not operated here before, like Carbone, La Neta, and Nusr-Et.

And the spit-out cornflakes reflected both the inane headline and what that means to my clients – some of whom compete head-on at that price point, others at lower price points – who have to raise their game as people have a higher expectation of what it means to dine here.

We’re Still There; They’re All Gone

The most significant quote in the article? Teiichi Sakurai, who owns Tei-An – one of Dallas’s best restaurants: “National groups come and go – they don’t remember names.”

My favorite example of this came when a chain restaurant decided to take a very similar menu and open directly across the street from one of my client’s high-volume restaurants, presumably because their eyes popped out of their head when they identified our high revenue.

I devised a plan to position my client’s restaurant as the “home team” owned by real people, and launched these efforts when the interloper began construction.

Fast forward a few years.

The corporate restaurant failed. My client took over the chain restaurant building and moved into their restaurant.


Play the Hometown Independent Card

A national company that brings a restaurant to your segment can never duplicate your relationship with guests and the position you occupy in your community.

Lead with that. Perfect it. Institutionalize your guest relationships and protect yourself from foreign interlopers. I have a system to do that, and it works.

That does not mean your guests might not want to occasionally visit Dubai on the Trinity.

But the bulk of their spending goes to you and your peers.

How you activate culture to bond to guests, employees, and your community reinforces your status as the staple of everyday life in your town.

That deserves to be celebrated!

Over to you. Review your branding and marketing, culture, the way you do business, and find opportunities to strengthen that approach. This protects you from companies encroaching out of foreign lands.

Freedom and flexibility guide for restaurateurs.

What’s the point of owning a successful restaurant business if you don’t have freedom?

Download Matthew Mabel's Freedom and Flexibility Guide for Restaurateurs to learn how to...

  • Step away for extended periods of time
  • Contribute to your community in a unique way
  • Spend more time with friends and family
  • Travel for weeks at a time
  • Split your residence at a vacation home for several months a year