My name is Tina. I am not a chef, although I don't do too badly in my own kitchen. The biggest reason I joined this forum is to learn about the industry a little bit. I work for a non-profit agency whose mission is to bring some new life to our little city in central PA. What better way to do that than to attract a new and hopefully unique restaurant or two? The problem is I have no idea how to do that so here I am. Any advice anyone has is greatly appreciated. Are there websites or other chat rooms? ANYTHING. Thanks for listening and God Bless.
ChefTalk.com Top Picks
Welcome---read some of the older threads here---tell us a little about your town---does it have any features that would draw folk to the town if it did have a couple of 'destination' restaurants?
Historic buildings? Antique shops? Great fall colors? Nearby state park or other scenic feature?
Destination restaurants are helped by the local attractions---so the diners can 'make a day ' of the trip.
Good morning! We have some historic buildings; sadly there was a devastating fire in one of this past week. We have a beautiful riverfront walk and we are next to a state park with great views. Our organization is also in the process of converting an old stone church into a community arts center that we hope will be a big draw to the community. Unfortunately, our main street lost a lot of retail stores to the mall and big box stores that are across the river. This is something our organization is focusing on.
1. Don't post identical requests in multiple places.
2. Use a better title than "Suggestions anyone?"
3. You may need to be a little more up-front: what small town or more about it... it may make a difference in suggestions offered.
4. Read Recky's response... that is much of what I was going to offer.
Study your enemy: the big mall developer used urban planners and politics to move the business out of your downtown. They had government help and tax incentives. You need to do the same, plus you need to prove the point of why the death of downtown actually hurts the community. It needs to be dollars-and-cents explanation, not just emotion and nostalgic rationale.
Study other communities who did the same. It has been done and can be done. Sometimes it involves a lot of change. Rick Caruso does it all the time. His transformation of "dead" areas often don't look anything like what they once were, but they are transformative in the sense that they totally revive an area into something new and vibrant.
Good luck to you and your town.
p.s. You may need to adopt a "go big or go home" attitude. There is a small town in my area that has been through the situation you describe three times. The original part of the town was superseded by the west side of town when the railroad built their station there. The original part of town died and the new downtown was quaint but vibrant. Then the highway was built and a newer downtown was built. Business boomed on the highway. The old downtown survived but languished into a quaint area with an old-fashioned hardware store, a run-down theater, a ice cream shop, and a couple of mediocre restaurants... but they weren't chain restaurants so they fit into the quaint "old town" area. That phase has been going on since about 1969... while the business area over on the highway has been booming and growing and prospering.
Tina, (did you know your name is a acronym?) demographics, know your target clientele AND the competition. E.g., if you’re in a towns little Italy another Italian themed restaurant might not be the best choice due to saturation. Gastro pubs are a huge theme with proven staying power. Somewhat upscale pub food using local ingredients, local suppliers and local craft beers will involve the community AND give you free advertising. As far as other resources I’d check with the local Sysco distributor and your local beer and wine distributors as they know what they sell, to whom and what in the restaurant biz is working. Btw, where in PA?, have friends and some family from Carnegie, just curious.
Good luck and Cheers!