I'll be honest.... i'm not sure why i'm responding again to this post.
It seems that every time I read it or your other threads things change and then they change again.
Then again i'm hard-headed... (I also think you're genuine... misguided but probably genuine)
You were given good advice to truly find out what kind of food / place your neighborhood wants and desires. You answer that it's too dangerous for you to stand on the sidewalk and ask a few questions. Did this extreme danger ever give you a hint that your restaurant location might not work? Honestly get some tougher underwear (maybe even kevlar) and stand out there and ask the questions. I have a feeling they will just say anything that is safe.... maybe hire a guard? Make that your gimmic? Good Safe Guarded Food!! (for cheap)
You defend your menu and the prices -I think you are dead wrong - however I would like to point out one final thing. If a person walks into your place and only has 5 bucks in his pocket what does he get? He won't ever get to see how much of a 'great value' your big portion sides are. He has 5 bucks only! You could be giving away 15$ of food for 6 bucks but he/she will never know because they only have 5 in their pocket and your sides cost 6$
Side items are not supposed to cost more than the mains, ever for any reason.
You said that Popeye's sells food too cheap... then you said they are a fad... then you said that they failed 7 years ago. But now they are back again and your business is hurting. Think about this and why they originally failed and why they are back. 7 years ago what did your neighborhood look like...? where were people eating? that is probably why they failed. Now where are the same people eating? Why do you think that they are back? Remember it's a franchise, there are strict rules on where one goes in and when.
You say that you are a Cajun restaurant and a full bakery. How is the bakery business going? Maybe you should close up the restaurant side of things and turn it into a full bakery? From your description of things I don't think this is a good idea, as bakery shops need window traffic and in your rough neighborhood you won't get it. Maybe start supplying the other restaurants in your area with bread / baked goods? This is very doable and doesn't need any windows let alone a safe place to eat. Steel bars and roll shutters just add to the aura of the place.
You need plenty of menu items that are dirt cheap. The idea of an anchor item is absolutely spot-on. The rest should be fast and inexpensive. Of the 10 items on your menu you should have at least 6 that are about 3-4 bucks. They don't have to be fancy but they must pack a punch. Cajun sausage sandwich, cajun 2 piece chicken, cajun jumbo shrimp, cajun fries, what ever, er just make it fresh. Don't mistake this as being bad food or poorly done food. Do the absolute best you can but make it affordable and make it quick, no pre-cooking required just stop with the ideas below. The menu should be unified, complete and not scattered.
Cajun Joint - Sandwich Joint - Burger Joint - Comfort Food Joint etc. but only one. People need a reason to come to your place.
No food business has ever created a customer - they just simply 'steal' customers from other businesses.
Do what you need to do in order to 'steal' customers from some place else.
You are located in an African/Mexican neighborhood is cajun food what they really want? Be honest. I don't think that is what they want simply by your statements. You really need to re-work your menu, especially if it is just you and one cook. You might be the only one in 100 miles who serves Cajun food but seriously if your kind of food was in demand wouldn't there be more than just the single one? What does your neighborhood crave? (now if you moved up here by me in the frozen north with genuine Cajun food - you'd be raking in the money)
Well I think I am hearing we are just not a QSR then. And that is something we do not want to be. We want fresh home cooked meals. Something you just can not get in this area. We know our food is better then the other 3 restaurants here because we have tried them all. We know we give the most food and our customers know that to. Esp when the owners and families of the other businesses frequent our establishment. And then add our stuff to their menus.....
Are you running a business or just trying to make a dream work?
That is the question that only you can answer.