Restaurants must have one of highest failure rates of any type of business. As I understand it, it’s about 50%. Those are not odds that I like. From a selfish perspective, I’m glad people are still willing to give it a try anyway – that way, I can eat there, at least until they go out of business.
But here’s what’s strange – have you ever noticed that there are locations where you’ll see several restaurants fail right in a row? And to me the funniest ones are those where the “new” restaurant is exactly the same as the one that just failed. I thought everyone knew Einstein’s quote where he said that repeating the same behavior over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. But obviously not.
This phenomenon exists nearly everywhere, and it’s thriving here in Syracuse. I won’t name names, as I don’t want to jinx anyone. But I will ask this: how many nearly indistinct pizza joints does one town need? I guess it’s like starting a bar – the person figures, hey, everybody drinks, so it’s a surefire hit. And who doesn’t like pizza? I love pizza, and even like lame pizza if I’m hungry enough. But if there are 10 of them per mile (and that’s a very low estimate), are they all going to make money? Well, anecdotally, we see the results with dead pizza joints all over the city. Same with the many dead Italian restaurants and so on.
I will say that a few pizza joints are really superior, and we make a point of identifying those here. The rest – if I know about them, I’ll just quietly ignore them – they’re having a tough enough time without me bad-mouthing them.
I try to guess why people keep opening the same failing business over and over again. Other than the undeniable power of simple ignorance and lack of market research, I guess that opening a restaurant just seems cool. Hey, I’ve got a few good recipes at home, or I want to start a business and I think I can grasp the restaurant concept more easily than the idea of starting a surgery business, or I worked in a restaurant but am tired of listening to my jerk boss so I want to become one, or…. who knows.
Maybe as time goes on, I’ll start naming “case studies” when they fail. At that point my critical comments can’t hurt them anymore. Or maybe not. We’ll see.