When McDonald’s came to town, naturally it affected business. It was really more of a novelty in town at first, but as we all know it caught on. By this time, our family business was being primarily run by another family member. Decisions were made to try to compete with McD’s, and I still believe that was the real problem.
They started using pre-pattied meat, frozen potatoes, and buying other sub-par ingredients. Cooking methods were changed to save time. By the mid-70’s, the food barely tasted like the food that had made my grandfather successful. Business declined, and finally the business was sold to another local business, and it all closed within a year after.
Great Point. Places like you family's restaurant cannot attempt to compete with the giants. Places like Wal Mart, McD's etc. do not go out and shop for products and the best price, they dictate to their suppliers what they are willing to pay, how they want it packaged, and all other logistics involved in their supply chain. Mom and Pop's can't do this.
What they can do is serve something unique, better than McFood or Walvittles, and serve it with style, friendliness, and applomb. There is a burger stand in the town I grew up in (Monroe, LA) that has been through at least three name changes that I can think of(Frank Walker's, The Brown Bag, Melvin's), but the menu has remained the same. They have been open since the early 60's. When the Golden Arches came to town they set up shop about 600 yds. down the street, we all went to McD's because it was new, because there were a limited number of places to try, and because (humorously, in retrospect) they were unique. No one had ever seen a fast food joint or a chain up to that time. Kids had birthday parties there, we watched them cut their own fries (which, incidentally, were great and it is a shame they stopped doing that years ago) and they made burgers on an assembly line.
The old burger stand down the street never changed a thing (although they did get a beer permit 10 or so years ago). Good food, good prices, nothing made on an assembly line. They made a big deal out of supporting local high school football (wildly popular in my part of the South), guaranteeing they would get these kids in and keep getting them as they grew up and had children of their own.
My point here is this, these guys have survived exactly because they chose not to directly compete with McD's in price or substance. They charge substantially more for a burger than Mickey D's, but you get a real hand hewn patty, on a real bun, with fresh veggies (purple onions, leaf lettuce, thick tomato slice, etc.). Home cut fries (thin ones, skin on, fried crisp) come with it and you get a great slice of pickle to boot. This is different than down the street where you get a micro thin 4 oz. patty, onion chips, a squirt of ketchup and mustard (annoyingly piled in one spot and not spread out. I really hate that), and some warm lettuce.
Sure, lots of places have closed because of giant, out of town competition. Hell, Sam Walton's first store was on the square in Fayetteville, AR. He killed his own downtown. After he built his first box on the edge of town and other giant marketers starting moving in , the square in Fayetteville looked liked a ghost town (now recovering nicely thank you, albeit 40 years later). Every little town in the South has horror stories about Wal Mart coming to town. Retailers have a very hard(if not impossible) time surviving. Restaurants are not retailers in the sense that they do not have to buy EXACTLY the same thing from the same guys the big boys are buying from, goods retailers do. . Mom and Pop's can buy from smaller local guys (and brag about doing it), serve it better (and bigger if they want to), mark it up more BECAUSE it is bigger and better, and still make a decent profit.
I feel like this discussion gets bogged down in "Mom and Pop's can't make as much money as the big boys do". Well, that's right, they can't. But if the business is run well, Mom and Pop's Burgers and Fries can provide a decent, honest living for a family and for future generations of the family to come. And, in the case of almost all small business owners, rest. or not, this is all they are looking for. It is the way the business is run that kills it (in most cases)not the competition from giant out of town corporations. Nothing can overcome a bad business plan and/or poor management (except a rich Daddy, but that is another topic
O.K., I have managed to waste another valuable twenty minutes of my company's time and your's too. Now, I am going to go start a topic in this same category. "Longest surviving rest. in your area". You will then get to tell why they are still there, if they are locally owned, and in your opinion if they will be there in twenty or so years. I will let you make my point over and over. It should be fun for you and satisfying for me.