Bigger is not always better.
In the restaurant business or maybe any business in general, bigger is not always better. You can find a lot of success in a tiny, simple place while a huge, fancy place might be failing. Something happened the other day which reminded me of that.
Depending on the situation, my father can be the grumpiest old man you know or he can be the friendliest little social butterfly. When he's out and about running errands for the store he tends to be the latter. Once or twice a week he takes trips to Costco to shop for the store and while he's there he tends to make friends with random people. Whether it be with other people shopping or the employees who work there, he loves chatting it up. Obviously the first thing he talks about is the restaurant and immediately tries to get whomever he's speaking with to come try it out. He does this out of pride for his store and to be hospitable, not just to gain customers.
Recently my dad befriended one of the cashiers and kept inviting him to come into the restaurant. It took a while, but the the man finally showed up one day. As he took a seat at the counter I start talking to him, and the first thing he said to me was "I've been looking for this place for months, I always pass by the area looking for some huge sign with your restaurant name on it and I could never find it so I gave up." I didn't really understand what he meant at first. Although we are a small place in a tiny strip mall and might be easy to miss, direction wise it's not that hard to find us. I thought maybe he was just a little geographically challenged, and it was also clear he didn't try to google us beforehand, but then he proceeded to make sense. He goes to me "No, you don't understand I was looking for some humungous franchise restaurant with a big flashing sign and saw nothing." He continued on "your dad buys so many items every week at Costco, I never imagined it was for this tiny little place." He said he must have passed by it 4 times in the past completely missing it because he was looking for something bigger and better.
It's crazy how people (I am guilty too) perceive things and make judgements from what they think they clearly see right in front of them. Who knows how many people were going into Costco with restaurants 5x the size of mine buying 10x less the things making it look like they had smaller businesses when in reality it could have been vice versa.
If you have never been to my restaurant, and you happen to drive by it with a closed mind, chances are even if you notice it you will not stop in. It's a small place in a tiny strip mall with a bunch of corny signs surrounding it with little to no to aesthetic appeal (I could very well fix this, but I'll get into that another time). However, all our customers along with my family and myself know otherwise. Our little place is a gem that has become a big success over the years.
I think this story serves as a reminder of a few things. A reminder that things aren't always what they appear to be. A reminder that bigger doesn't always mean better, that greatness can be found in small things as well. And a reminder that it is best to keep an open mind.