Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant

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lckt13
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2005/07/22 16:33:18 (permalink)

Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant

Greetings from Marin county, California - home of preciousely small portions of forgettable food.

my dream is to open a family style restaurant, formerly very common in the South, on the Big Island of Hawaii. simple updated menue, lots of fresh, locally grown and organic food items, served to communal tables with a fixed price for lunch and dinner. Wine and Beer license and minimal corkage fee.

the objective is to bring simple home cooking back to communal dining tables where folks can eat, drink and get to know one another while enjoying a constantly changing menue.

this stye of dining has almost disappeared from the American scene giving way to more elaborate, costly, and often forgettable dining experiences.

your thoughts please and Mahalo!

Hank
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    BT
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/22 19:22:32 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by lckt13


    my dream is to open a family style restaurant, formerly very common in the South, on the Big Island of Hawaii. simple updated menue, lots of fresh, locally grown and organic food items, served to communal tables with a fixed price for lunch and dinner. Wine and Beer license and minimal corkage fee.

    the objective is to bring simple home cooking back to communal dining tables where folks can eat, drink and get to know one another while enjoying a constantly changing menue.

    this stye of dining has almost disappeared from the American scene giving way to more elaborate, costly, and often forgettable dining experiences.

    Hank


    It hasn't entirely disappeared. There are still a few places across the Bay that offer it. One is a place I go to named Suppenkuche (it's German food, but the style is similar to what you propose:

    quote:
    Our philosophy is that simpler tastes in life are the best. We are providing quality to our customers in an atmosphere where they can relax, eat, talk to their friends, and are pleased by a good meal where all the elements are well-considered and prepared in the most authentic manner. Suppenküche is not an ordinary restaurant: it is more like a traditional German Wirtshaus. The atmosphere comes not only from the aesthetics of the restaurant itself but also from the people: the conversations they have there warmed by the heartiness of the food. Our food is simple, honest in every detail and prepared very traditionally-- without combining tastes that diminish the intensity of the meal.




    In a totally different style, Tommy's Joynt also has large communal tables and basic (though hardly organic) comfort food:



    I like both places. If your's becomes a success, I hope you'll open a branch in the City.
    #2
    mayor al
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/22 20:12:26 (permalink)

    Before putting your money on the table I think you need to do a serious demographic examination of your target customer group and your proposed location.
    Yes there is a group that enjoys the type of dining that you describe, but when you say communal tables I get the image that BT posted, one that smacks of Basque dinners or Boarding House Sundays. I do not get the idea that the typical Marin County family has the time to gather the family to eat a sit-down meal at home, much less getting everyone together for a 'family-style' meal.
    I think the mix and match of both themes Family Style and Communal have their place in the restaurant market, And maybe in the area you are looking at... But the idea of having to sit with another family WITH Children at the table shuts me down cold. I do not enjoy dining out even with my own grandkids, much less someone elses. This is the result of way too many experiences of children out of control in public places...Yes my kids let the little ones 'explore' etc. I do like nor approve of this so we don't do it often.
    Maybe I am taking this one a bit too close to home...But I would not repeat a visit to a child friendly communal dining establishment after the first negative experience there.
    I did note that in the B-W photo in BT's post I don't see any small kids at the tables, maybe they were locked in the bathrooms??
    #3
    BT
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/22 22:07:28 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Al-The Mayor-Bowen



    I did note that in the B-W photo in BT's post I don't see any small kids at the tables, maybe they were locked in the bathrooms??


    No, Mr. Mayor. That restaurant is in Hayes Valley, an enclave of yuppies and young singles very few of whom have kids. It's somewhat of a destination (very good German food--run by a young, hip German expatriate) so it does get people from other neighborhoods, but they are mostly the same demographic as the locals.

    Truth is, kids are few and far between in many SF neighborhoods. When people start families, they move to the suburbs. Raising kids in a $2000/month 2 bedroom apartment and sending them to private school (because the neighborhood public school is lousy) doesn't have many devotees.
    #4
    1bbqboy
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/22 23:41:40 (permalink)
    They all move to Ashland to raise their kids, thereby forcing us further out in the country. Gawd, I sound like a republican.
    #5
    garryd451
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/23 01:02:03 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by lckt13

    Greetings from Marin county, California - home of preciousely small portions of forgettable food.

    my dream is to open a family style restaurant, formerly very common in the South, on the Big Island of Hawaii. simple updated menue, lots of fresh, locally grown and organic food items, served to communal tables with a fixed price for lunch and dinner. Wine and Beer license and minimal corkage fee.

    the objective is to bring simple home cooking back to communal dining tables where folks can eat, drink and get to know one another while enjoying a constantly changing menue.

    this stye of dining has almost disappeared from the American scene giving way to more elaborate, costly, and often forgettable dining experiences.

    your thoughts please and Mahalo!

    Hank



    Family Styles Dinners are very common in Indiana, below are links to 5 Resturants in Northern Indiana that serves Family Style Dinners

    http://www.amishcountrytours.org/php/aa_yoders.php

    http://www.riegsecker.com/php/blue_gate/index.php

    http://www.essenhaus.com/index.cfm?pagename=mainpage_template&client_id=essenhaus%5Fcorp&tablename=news&link_id=14343939&linkname=Restaurant

    http://www.joehubers.com/restaurant.html

    http://www.amishacres.com/aa_threshers_dinner/Threshers_dinner.htm
    #6
    bassrocker4u2
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/23 08:51:40 (permalink)
    although the theme sounds great, the location is what worries me. hawaii is not(imho), the place to open a restaurant. first, if you check the listing an alarming percentage of the already existing establishments are for sale! why? well there are many reasons, most of which i dont know. let me back up. a few years ago i was thinking of purchasing one of them. what steered me away was the thought of being trapped on the island, no money, no way back to the mainland.
    the cost of living there is the highest anywhere. water cost more than gas or electric, and apt rentals are unaffordable.
    basically, its a nice place to visit, but near impossible to make a living. hold on to your dream, but change the location!
    #7
    lckt13
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/23 09:31:51 (permalink)
    hi folks!

    thanks for all of your feedback. very helpful especially the family syle restaurants in Indiana where my brother teaches (IU-Bloomington).

    no. i will not open a restaurant in the Bay Area. already saturated with good places.

    Hawaii, the big island, does not have many good places to eat. forget the posh hotel restaurants. the locals don't go there. i know about the expense of living there. Hilo side has many 1 or 2 good places to eat. south of Hilo has none!

    i plan to remedy that situation.

    please keep those ideas coming!

    Mahalo

    Hank M
    Greenbrae, Marin, CA
    #8
    Adjudicator
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/23 09:32:27 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Al-The Mayor-Bowen


    Before putting your money on the table I think you need to do a serious demographic examination of your target customer group and your proposed location.
    Yes there is a group that enjoys the type of dining that you describe, but when you say communal tables I get the image that BT posted, one that smacks of Basque dinners or Boarding House Sundays. I do not get the idea that the typical Marin County family has the time to gather the family to eat a sit-down meal at home, much less getting everyone together for a 'family-style' meal.
    I think the mix and match of both themes Family Style and Communal have their place in the restaurant market, And maybe in the area you are looking at... But the idea of having to sit with another family WITH Children at the table shuts me down cold. I do not enjoy dining out even with my own grandkids, much less someone elses. This is the result of way too many experiences of children out of control in public places...Yes my kids let the little ones 'explore' etc. I do like nor approve of this so we don't do it often.
    Maybe I am taking this one a bit too close to home...But I would not repeat a visit to a child friendly communal dining establishment after the first negative experience there.
    I did note that in the B-W photo in BT's post I don't see any small kids at the tables, maybe they were locked in the bathrooms??


    "I did note that in the B-W photo in BT's post I don't see any small kids at the tables, maybe they were locked in the bathrooms??"

    Hopefully...


    #9
    nvb
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/23 16:02:32 (permalink)
    We have a few in the area that serve family style, but none that I know of that has communal seating. Personally, I wouldn't go to such a place because I prefer the limited privacy of my own table.
    #10
    mayor al
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/23 17:09:56 (permalink)
    I have enjoyed the communal dining (with adults) at a few places , Louis Basque Restaurant in Reno comes to mind. I did manage a major embarrassing moment during our first visit. Since it was a communal table I thought nothing of pouring myself a glass of a nice wine from the bottle near me on the table. I didn't notice the looks I got from the couple beside us....until I started to take a second glass a little while later...then they told me that the wine was NOT communal!! I did replace their bottle and apologized for being a simple barefoot boy from the desert of California who couldn't be expected to know anything about civilized dining! That was apparently acceptable to them, but she did remind him to put the tip on the credit card, not cash on the table, when they left

    I don't remember the name of the Nashville restaurant that the Tennessee Glee Club and BBQ society visited last year on our way to the introduction to Mr. Hays location. It used communal sitting and proved to be an interesting conversation starter for us that night. Maybe one of the group will recall the name of the place.
    #11
    signman
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/23 17:59:59 (permalink)
    The Nashville restaurant is Monell's and for me, family style pretty much means just one thing.......fried chicken and mashed potatoes, hardly what one would expect to find in Hawaii.
    #12
    mayor al
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/23 18:08:50 (permalink)

    Good Point Howard, I like going to dinner with you. But I prefer not to share my "Poi" (finger dip) with you !! Family Style in this area as pointed out in the menu links above tends to be hearty food. I am not sure the environment of the Big Island would have a demand for that menu.
    #13
    lckt13
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/23 20:16:52 (permalink)
    CHILDREN!

    i am not certain you understand and appreciate my endeavor on the Big Island. No way will i serve typical American/Southern cuisine! has anyone been to Greenwoods in Roswell, GA? food to die for - American in nature but gourmet in style. organic healthy, fresh, not cooked in lard but in peanut or olive oil. this is just to mention some variations. also same for Chez Panisse in Berkekey when Alice started out - nothing fancy, bountiful and healthy and DELICIOUS.

    this is my intent using the family style style.

    keep those cards and letters pouring in!

    Hank
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    1bbqboy
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/23 20:29:28 (permalink)
    I don't think it's your choice of style but your choice of venue. You'd be welcomed with open arms here in the rogue valley, where the dining options tend towards either SF hip, or chain family style. There are lots of folks, tourists and locals alike, who would appreciate an all comers type Fresh family place, where everybody could find what they want and drink what they want. Most new places opening here are oriented towards parting Shakespeare attendees with their wallets. We don't go to any of these "celebration" type places as we want to take our 12 & 14 year olds along. What you are describing is spot on. We just don't live on the big island.
    #15
    garryd451
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/23 23:23:59 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by lckt13

    hi folks!

    thanks for all of your feedback. very helpful especially the family syle restaurants in Indiana where my brother teaches (IU-Bloomington).

    no. i will not open a restaurant in the Bay Area. already saturated with good places.

    Hawaii, the big island, does not have many good places to eat. forget the posh hotel restaurants. the locals don't go there. i know about the expense of living there. Hilo side has many 1 or 2 good places to eat. south of Hilo has none!

    i plan to remedy that situation.

    please keep those ideas coming!

    Mahalo

    Hank M
    Greenbrae, Marin, CA


    Here's some from Michigan, I forgot these and I live in Michigan but near the Indiana state line!!!!

    http://www.ernestos1.com/banquets/banquet_family7.asp

    http://www.zehnders.com/new-site/restaurant/dinner-menu.htm

    http://www.bavarianinn.com/bi/home.nsf/public/C5759AC199C683D785256A8F004CF993?OpenDocument
    #16
    jellybear
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/24 11:44:40 (permalink)
    If you need a Chef let me know!
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    dreamzpainter
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/26 18:54:50 (permalink)
    I don't know about the location but the concept works, many BBQ places use communal tables as do eastern shore crab places and many cruise ships use a like system in the main dining area. These are the type places you DO NOT take my Mom or sister because by the time you are finished eating and are ready to leave, THEY have barely touched their food but know the history of EVERYONE at the table!
    #18
    lckt13
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/26 19:03:06 (permalink)
    DREAMZPAINTER! I LIKE YOUR STYLE! BEEN TO DOZENS OF THE SOUTHERN BBQ JOINTS AS WELL AS EASTERN SEABOARD SEAFOOD PLACES AND I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN. MY DAD, A NAVY ADMIRAL, WOULD WALK UP TO FOLKS AT ANOTHER TABLE JUST TO SEE WHAT THEY WERE HAVING AND THEN STRIKE UP A CONVERSATION. MY MOM WOULD GO HIDE!

    I LOVE THOSE KIND OF PLACES AND THAT IS WHY I HAVE A PASSION ABOUT DOING FIRST RATE, FRESH, ORGANIC HEALTHLY BUT DELICIOUS FAMILY STYLE IN HAWAII. THEY WOULD LOVE A PLACE LIKE THAT. NONE ON ANY ISLAND THAT I KN OW OF.

    HANK OF MARIN COUNTY WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE MORE INSECURE THAN THE FISH AND GAME ABOUT TO BE EATEN!

    Edit- Please avoid the use of All Caps in your posts. It causes communications breakdowns between members who read emotional response into your statements. Thank you. PS the flame fight that did follow these posts was deleted by me
    AL- Moderator.
    #19
    Michael Hoffman
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/26 19:04:27 (permalink)
    I remember once eating in a family-style (communal tables and all that) restaurant in Hattiesburg, Mississippi when I was in sixth grade. That was enough for me.
    #20
    bassrocker4u2
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/27 09:14:01 (permalink)
    there is a place just outside of philly called the 'good and plenty'
    yhou just go in and sit with strangers, they keep bringing food to the table of all sorts. eat til ful, then pay and go. oh yea, did i mention that is was Amish?
    #21
    lckt13
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/27 10:06:13 (permalink)
    Thanks 4u2

    my brother lived with Amanites (sp?) in Iowa while doing his Doctoral thesis in Theology and ate at communal tables for a month with different families. loved every single Minennite of it.

    mine will be similar except upscale, slightly more complicated food, more Italian ambiance with ever changing menue daily. most of the other spots have the same thing on their menues which can become rather boring if it's family style.

    keep those wonderful ideas coming in. i appreciate them.
    #22
    tmiles
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/27 10:26:04 (permalink)
    Communal tables work on cruise ships, but the first night is often a little odd. Cruises usually last a week, so folks have a few days to learn to enjoy each other.
    #23
    lckt13
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/27 10:32:06 (permalink)
    thanks for your input. these family style restaurants have been going on successfully for centuries especially in some European countries and in the US. don't forget, the patrons change at every meal in a restaurant as opposed to a ship where you're often stuck with the same folks daily. this is not for everyone for sure. caters to socially adept people and familes.

    HM
    #24
    lckt13
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/07/29 15:48:46 (permalink)
    Thanks Caramel!

    know what you mean about rodwy parents etc. been there done that. the Hawaiian style isn't like that. more pensive, quiet, in a word devout family types as opposed to Southern Bubbas and Bubettes. however, the place will be jumping .no doubt about it. not a fine fancy precious style of dining.

    keep those comments and especially the ideas coming!

    Hank
    #25
    V960
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/08/02 15:38:27 (permalink)
    I would respectively recommend you explore your supply side as much as your customer side.
    #26
    lckt13
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/08/02 17:39:11 (permalink)
    to V960

    please explain supply side. Hawaii has everything locally. from organic to Costco frozen.

    thanks

    HM
    #27
    Kodachrome
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/08/04 11:22:46 (permalink)
    I would personally like it if you got off the high horse that you seem to be sitting on.

    I don't know about you but "healthy" and "organic" is not a typical "family-style" meal for most americans...so if you could refrain from calling "the rest of us" southern bubbas or socially inept that would be great.


    Just got a little offended by some of the comments, thanks.
    #28
    lckt13
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/08/04 12:10:22 (permalink)
    KODACHROME

    if you find this forum and other's comments offensive i suggest you depart asap.

    warmest personal regards

    HM
    #29
    Caramel Copper
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    RE: Your Thoughts on a Family Style Restaurant 2005/08/04 13:07:29 (permalink)
    Ya know, if I had my way.....I'd ask the world to grow a thicker skin. I been "different" all my life (made it a damn point to be) and been purty dang proud of being so. I think the biggest difference is that I "expected folks to have an opinion" about what I am. It takes away the courage of stepping up and daring to be unique when you cry later that you have been offended and the whole world bows down.

    Its become a world of crybabies. I abhor that. Be who you are, but for the love of Pete, don't whine when folks poke at you because Thats Part of the Package.

    Just because my Mom and Dad were cousins don't pick on me....
    Bwa-hahahhahahahahahhah (just kiddin)
    Copper
    PS edited to say, I like the idea of people sittin around eatin together. It rocks my boat!

    I'll leave this post, the mods can delete it.
    #30
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