Food Business Success In Temecula
There are 2 VERY different conversations going on right now locally in Temecula today in the my facebook feed. Both are coming from places I truly enjoy in Temecula… yet one of them is saying that this week will be their last week in business, they are shutting the doors on Sunday. And the other?? The other is actually looking to EXPAND! These are 2 very different conversations to be having with Facebook fans, however the differences between these two places could be argued as either vast or minimal, depending on points of discussion. I mean they both serve food, but there are a ton of “food” joints in Temecula. So what does it take to stand out!? To be one of the “best” in town? And notice I put best in quotes there, cause its always arguable and comes down to more than a few qualities when determining this. I mean what [if you had to pick] would you say is your favorite place to go out to eat at in Temecula? Are you picking it based on food alone? OR is there something more? Is it the atmosphere? The vibe? The way they make drinks? It could be any of these… whats important to some isn’t always as important to others and when it comes down to it maybe the food really isn’t “the best” in town but the atmosphere provides the right setting for the food and that keeps people coming back for more… AND LETS FACE IT, so long as people are coming back the doors remain open and its business as usual. So much so that at some point this business may be looking to expand. Ohhhh yesssssssss.
Okay, well… there’s no reason to beat around it anymore… by the time you read this one of these 2 businesses I’m talking about will be closed, and I’m hoping its not for good. I really see this business’ ultimate flaw as being the location and NOT the food. I mean its SO TRUE what they say in real estate… its all about…. LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION! So why in a business that the odds of making it are sooo stacked against you would you try to save a few bucks by tucking yourself in a forgettable corner in a generic and lonely strip mall in town and expect to survive is beyond any logic I can understand. Did nobody in charge see it this way? Is any spot as good in the minds of a few? Well I’m here to tell you its not. If you pick a crappy location lacking originality and soul in some forgotten about preplanned center somewhere you too are going to be “forgotten”. You are NOT Kevin Costner! Simply “building it” will not insure that “THEY will come!”…. got it? AND again I’m going to be honest when I say that Temecula is full of these all too generic preplanned centers that have fallen apart and turned over a dozen times and nobody can remember what is where anymore. Its going to take a TON of work to embed that you are the new place to be in the minds of the many buzzing around town. Its true. The only place that has any soul in this cookie cutter suburban bedroom community is Old Town. Sure, it used to be cringe-worthy is some aspects [maybe still is] however its got character, atmosphere and lots of shopping nearby and therefore is pretty much the only place in town that boasts of “foot traffic” cause lets face it, there aren’t that many shopping centers in town that you can just park your car in on a Saturday and go for a leisurely stroll through. I mean, I guess you could do it with most any of them but how enjoyable would it be!?
[SIDE STORY // TANGENT ALERT!] When I was younger my friends and I used to skate all over this town. Down the hill to the Lucky’s center to Green Burrito to grab a .99 bean and cheese burrito [before it had any affiliation with Carls Jr. and started sucking] Then kick/ push on down through the Target center, grab a drink, grind curbs hit a few shops before heading down to the old VONS center now known as The ghost town of Tower Plaza. Fortunately you can still grab a slice from scarcellas pizza on your way through there From there you could cut under the freeway through a wash that popped up by the rancho army navy, where, if you needed Dickies you could score a pair. Onward to Spin records to listen to music and maybe back to Old Town to go thrift shopping. Yeah, we’d cruise around. The sad thing is most of that stuff isn’t around anymore and I couldn’t even tell ya what is in half of those centers… they have turned over so many times that its hard to say what is still where.
Temecula continues to be about the NEW BIG THING. You ever notice that? Something new goes in and EVERYONE is all about that for a few weeks or months and attention begins to wane for the next new thing. It makes sense, even bugs are drawn to super shiny bright lights… and they keep popping up in random places. Yeah that spot that was so hot a few months back.. now it begins to calm out and make its way to forgottenville. Sure, it may make it in that spot and live out a moderate to mildly successful life until one day you go to visit years down the road and they are closed… or maybe its not even that long, who knows? It shocks me to see places like Little Chun King [same place as always] still in business. I mean that’s great they are there still, hopefully still killing it the same as they were when they were like the ONLY Chinese food joint in town in 1989. Rocky Cola sure didn’t have that much staying power and I thought they had a fairly decent thing going for them.
So what does it take to make it and sustain? I’m no expert, fortunately Seth Godin is… I think Purple Cow should be required reading for anyone starting a business that wants to be successful. If you own a small business and haven’t read that book, do it. If you have then you know what I am talking about, you get it. Hey people that are going into the restaurant business must think they know how to do food well. That is good, hopefully others agree. Yup. Next ya got to Purple Cow it. The restaurant business margin is so low there really is no room for error. I’ve talked to owner after owner, if not for the love they’d have left years ago… cause it ain’t about the money. Its hard to get rich in the food arena.
Anyhow, I got on a tangent there… the conversation I wanted to have stems from these two facebook posts, check em out.
So why is Travellers Cafe closing down while Public House is looking to expand!? Many reasons. Location for one. Public House has Old Town on its side and boys and girls I’m telling ya Old Town is hot right now. Its got soul, foot traffic and lots going on… How about food? Travellers is DAMN GOOD food, a different thing than Public House so I’m not sure we can really compare the two based upon food alone… but in my opinion, its not cause of the food that Traveller’s is hurting. Its the damn location. Its the lack of awareness. For being where they are and still nobody has heard of em. Its hidden with that whole Field of Dreams thing going on. Just cause you exist doesn’t mean people are going to come flooding your door. Times are different and we are soooo bombarded with advertising that having a sign up just doesn’t do it. How many times have you driven the same route only to finally one day notice something [for the first time] that may have been there forever. We go about our [busy] daily lives and if nothing calls us in to deviate from the path or try something new, as a whole, we as creatures of habit will not try something new. Its sad but true. BUT give me a reason, pitch me, promote to me and tell me that I’m missing out and the food is amazing and watch me go out of my way to give something a try!
I go to Traveller’s to eat, not to hang out. So safe to say atmosphere really isn’t a strong point there either. NOW if you put Traveller’s Cafe down in Old Town on Main st. then I think we have a whole new thing going on. You get it into a cozy little house [like Public House] get some drinks, couches a fire pit going on… yeah I’ll go there to hang out and have drinks… the food is good too!?? BONUS! You see what I did here? I made it less about the food and more about atmosphere… by providing a great atmosphere the food being good is simply a BONUS. Soooo spending money on location and atmosphere as well as marketing yourself and developing your brand is huge. If you had one shot to do it then it needs to be done right. Don’t grab a poor location cause its $1.00 a square foot cheaper. Cause while that seems like a lot, the price you pay in the end is… wah-wah-wahhh CLOSED DOORS.
If ever there was a model example of what to do right with your business, The Public House is it. They’ve got a solid location, they’ve put money in over the years to revamping it, its got atmosphere, it feels like home [cause it is essentially a house with a comfy backyard] The food is good, the drinks are good, they bring in entertainment… and the other thing I think is important. Its too small. lol.
Wait, what!? too small is a good thing? ABSOLUTELY. It always feels busy. And while it may be big compared to some places, lets face it, the place is cramped and gives the feeling of cozy-busy… and Nobody likes walking into a big open empty space and being one of the few there… it just feels weird. Having a small and cozy place trumps a large one when it comes to atmosphere. The Public House is doing it right and is everything that is right about Old Town, you can be sure that any given night you are down in the area you are going to stop in to see whats going on. I know we over here at Temecula Coupons and Temecula Daily Deals do… and will continue to.
And with that I will leave you with the farewell letter Billy at Travellers wrote to his loyals.
What a great way to go out. The comments left in reply to this post on Travellers facebook page make it even better. Billy you guys served up some awesome grub, its not your fault… its ours. Damn Temeculan’s not doing their part to support local. Every single day I see the f***ing McDonald’s drive thru jammed packed with soccer moms on the go, taco bell, jack in the crack and the others… its sad. I see full parking lots at chain restaurants around the mall. Red Robin!? Red Lobster? HomeTown Buffet!? REALLY!? wtf is going on????
Sure they aren’t all going to be regulars but even just the small effort to NOT eat at chains when going out, trying something new, supporting local in the community would be huge. It’d directly benefit the small guy, the family run joints like yours. I truly believe there are waaaaaaaaay too many people that drove right on by your place [on the daily] not even knowing you were there. Clueless of the AHH-MAY-ZING!-NESS you were serving up in a forgotten shopping center situated in the “middle of town”. While I didn’t eat at your place every night, I did enjoy all the times I did eat there… wish I could have had more time to check off more items on the menu cause I’m damn sure they were amazing too.
Thanks for trying to do something different. I think the food truck is an excellent idea, if I had more money… I’d personally be the guy who invested in your rig cause I believe in what you are dishing up… and after one bite I know others would too.
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