How to Become a Great Neighborhood Restaurant
By SKYE BARRY
Tasting Table is spot on in this recent article that our team caught a hold of: Won’t you be my Neighborhood Restaurant, by Joshua Stein. A great neighborhood restaurant (or GNR if you know the lingo!) isn’t just a great restaurant, nor is it just a neighborhood restaurant, it is always something much more complex that lives on the fine line between the two. A great neighborhood restaurant must be exceptional when it comes to cuisine, libations, atmosphere, and staff: but it also must be harmonious with its environment and customers. The GNR is a miraculous thing that can take on many forms and should change from city to city, as well as from neighborhood to neighborhood. The two key identifiers being: Is the price range relative to the mean income of families in that neighborhood? And, how many of the tables are reservation only and how many are saved for walk-ins?
In the article mentioned above, Stein says a GNR must enthrall a palpable sense of belonging in their customers, but how they choose to pursue this feeling of camaraderie will vary among restaurants. The welcoming atmosphere is easily malleable with the slightest change in the placement of the host stand, the host’s greeting, the layout or the decor, and the number of people inside.
From our perspective, every restaurant should strive to be loved by locals even if the visitor market is their key demographic. After all, visitors want to go where the locals are.
The keys to becoming a GNR also include, but are not limited to:
-Having approachable food that is timeless and well done every time.
-Having a bar scene that is lively but never crowded, the key here is a good layout and crowd control.
-Having trendy decor that is up kept but retains a relatively unchanging atmosphere.
-Having a staff that is friendly and remembers the customers as well as their orders. People relate to other people even more than they relate to food.
The main reasons why great neighborhood restaurants are so difficult to stumble upon is because they have a large dependence on the health of the neighborhood they reside in. With the increase in income inequality and introduction of gentrification, a neighborhood’s sense of community can quickly disappear leaving the GNR without a proper habitat to flourish in.
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