From The Rock

How to stand out among restaurant competition

By | November 07, 2018

It’s no secret that Memphis is growing. In fact, 2,136 new business filings were reported in the second quarter of 2018, according to the Tennessee Quarterly Business and Economic Indicators report. That’s 338 more than during same time period the year prior. Think new boutique hotels, new apartment buildings and of course, new restaurants. The Bluff City is a food city, there’s no doubt about that. Locals and tourists alike flock to eateries, coffee shops and breweries to get a taste of the best Memphis has to offer. So how does a restaurant survive when competition is constantly growing?

You do you

Pick one thing, maybe two, that you do exceptionally well and make that your focus. Is it Irish fare? Awesome. Be the best Irish pub this city has ever seen. Don’t be the best Irish pub and sushi bar this city has ever seen. Irish cuisine is your thing. Sushi is their thing. Focus on maintaining authenticity by identifying what sets you apart from the eatery next door, down the street and across town.

Times are a changin’

Staying true to your business’s roots is crucial, but not so much so that you fail to adapt when change is necessary. The environment will inevitably change around you, especially the longer your business is around. And the longer your business is around, the more subtle changes you will have to make to better meet the needs of your evolving customer base. As a restaurant owner, you can still make menu upgrades, remodel your interior or add brunch to your offerings without getting too far out in left field or agitating your regulars.

Be patient, young grasshopper

Momma always said patience was a virtue… a virtue I didn’t have. If you are a restaurant owner, though, you better buckle down and find some patience. It happens far too often that when a new restaurateur opens a thriving spot, he or she immediately starts the search for a spot for location number two. Easy, killer. Give your flagship at least three years to settle in. Opening up another location prematurely can cannibalize your clientele, resulting in growing pains, and could even cause you to unintentionally neglect the original spot.  

Here in Memphis, we love to eat. There are enough hungry Memphians and tourists to go around as long as you stick to your roots, adapt as needed and practice a little patience.