Sunday, April 24, 2016

WDT: Can our local restaurants survive the onslaught of national chains?

    The food critic editorializes in favor of supporting local restaurants. That's a pretty safe position and as one who eats in local restaurants, I see merit in it.....But many chains offer the food, service and atmosphere I enjoy.
     On holidays when the locals are off , I usually will go to Appleby's and always am pleased with the menu and service. Also if you want to dine after 8 or 9 at night, be prepared to go chain.
     I like Pete's because I know the people there and feel at home. I like Fairgrounds because its convenient and has a varied, easy to navigate menu. 
     Remember though, a chain is still a local business paying taxes (often pretty high assessments) and employing local people, so your guilt shouldn't be too high.
      So to answer the question in the headline.....Hard to say.  Wage rate hikes will require the kind of automation, efficiency and bulk buying that chains can do. Local restaurants can survive by knowing their market and providing a level of service and attention equal or superior to chains.
      Lots of things change. Remember cafeteria restaurants....Don't see that much anymore and they were viewed as a threat.
       The difference in local restaurants is they rely on an entrepreneur willing to work hard in a tough industry. Such people only come along occasionally, but when they do, yes the local one can survive.
Watertown Daily Times | Can our local restaurants survive the onslaught of national chains?


Anonymous said...

Art's, Shuler's, Fairgrounds, the Depot in Adams Center, even Longway's. Stay with our people when you can. Pizza, Bernardo's and Art's.

Anonymous said...

Over the years, the difference between what mom and pop pay for their supplies and what the chains pay, has become outrageous, and that alone is enough to kill the local restaurants. Its not just Sysco and Renzi making all the money as they kill the locals with unfair prices either. The consolidation of every supply business the distributors buy from, has just as much to do with it.

On the other hand...its hard to go into a local restaurant and not find glaring problems that chains wouldn't expose their customers to. From a lack of adequate and clean private restrooms, to it being too hot or too cold, these are some of the basics that get overlooked locally. And before that, many leave a lot to be desired just trying to find a good parking spot and one that is plowed.

Even places like the Fairgrounds have issues such as the booths are very uncomfortable and the tables are too small.

Anonymous said...

Sad to say but with the exception of a few, high end local restaurants who enjoy a very positive reputation the end may be near. Even an establishment with a large following can fail if it has a few bad days because the Chef is away or some other reason. The national chains offer consistency, often serving restaurant cloisters from a centralized, highly automated kitchens. where portions and prep times are tightly controlled. A large increase in the minimum age only accelerates that trend. It makes investment in automation more attractive.

In the fast food industry you only need to look at McDonalds. Expect order kiosks to appear soon. You either order by pushing a few buttons on a control panel (anyone who has ever stopped at a wawas will know what I mean) or with a smart phone app. The bottom line, the cost of labor will soon be too expensive to allow local businesses to survive.

Anonymous said...

12:59, spoken from a true military wife.(transient)

Anonymous said...

12:59, spot on