Restaurants see stable business hereJamestown restaurants for the most part are weathering the national recession without seeing a significant decline in customers, say local restaurant officials.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Jamestown restaurants for the most part are weathering the national recession without seeing a significant decline in customers, say local restaurant officials.
Economic conditions across the nation have led to less disposable income and the service industry is normally one of the first places to take a hit, said Randy Kingsley, fund manager at Lake Agassiz Regional Development Corporation, a business loan lender in Fargo.
“The consumers are being tighter and more selective with their dining and entertainment dollars, tightening the belt a little bit,” Kingsley said.
The service industry is fighting for customers’ dollars because consumer confidence is down due to domestic and foreign affairs, like budget deficits, unemployment and a world-wide recession, he said.
“People are being more cautious I think with their dollars and will continue to be as long as there is uncertainty domestically and internationally,” Kingsley said.
But businesses in James-town are faring better than markets on the East and West coasts, say local restaurant officials.
Brian Lunde, devolper and co-owner of the Buffalo City Grille, resides in Washington, D.C.
Lunde said he sees restaurants having a more difficult time attracting and retaining customers on the East Coast.
He said business at the Grille has been stable and has not seen a decrease in the past year. He contributes this fact to the grille being a “niche” restaurant.
There is not a lot of competition for a place to go for a business meeting or anniversary, Lunde said.
Still the Grille has offered promotions in hopes of attracting more customers, he said.
One restaurant that thrives during the warmer months is Polar King, said Deb Stroh, Polar King owner.
“We had a fantastic summer,” Stroh said.
But every winter season business at the Polar King tapers off, and this year the snowy months may be a little slower than years before, Stroh said.
Daily specials and homemade soups are available now that the temperatures dropped, as the restaurant looks to bring some of the summer crowd back during the winter, she said.
“I’d say (business) is pretty close to normal,” Stroh said.
While low temperatures may hurt a restaurant that specializes in cold treats, the Continental Bistro looks for more people to come in during the cold. Abnormally low winds made this past summer a prime barbecue season so more people stayed home and ate, said Bistro General Manager Jeff Schutt.
“We’re down from last year,” Schutt said. But he expects business to pick up soon.
“Now that it’s getting colder, it’ll pick up again,” he said.
Shady’s restaurant is different from others like the Bistro because it is only open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. and has no set in stone dinner service.
“Our food business has held pretty much the same,” Huus said.
Huus said she makes sure a cook is on during the night shift and if customers want food while in the bar they can have it prepared by a cook versus a frozen pizza, she said.
A consistent crowd for breakfast and lunch is on hand at Shady’s restaurant, Huus said. Meetings at the conference center also draw large crowds.
The Knights of Columbus Hall also has a number of meetings and parties that in turn help its business said, Dennis Rixen, general manager of the Knights of Columbus.
Weekends for meetings at the hall are booked through summer and currently there are three or four Christmas parties a week.
Business is the same if not better than previous years and Rixen said he has no plans to increase marketing to draw in new customers.
The Frontier Fort’s business is up, said Charlie Tanata, president of Tanata Enterprises Inc.
Business has increased for the restaurant every month for the past two years, Tanata said.
“We got good food at reasonable prices and the service is pretty darn good,” he said.
A variety of weekly specials keeps patrons coming back to the Fort, Tanata said.
One weekly special at The Depot Family Restaurant keeps bringing people in on Thursdays so much that the cook makes 60 gallons.
Knoephla soup has always been a favorite at The Depot and is just as popular as ever, even though business has slowed a bit, said Mike Ganser, head chef and co-owner.
“I think it’s coming around. It has been a little slower but we’re holding our own,” Ganser said.
Kingsley, the Fargo fund manager, said local businesses in this region are doing better than elsewhere in the U.S., and that the recession could be over in the next year or year and half.
“By and large I think they (North Dakota restaurants) are holding their own,” he said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com