Restaurants Close For Many Reasons

EDITORIAL The Repository, Canton, Ohio

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the restaurant failure rate at about 1 in 5; Ohio State University research says 1 in 4. Odds of success have improved over the past few years as Americans dine out more but it's still an uphill battle.

The Repository, Canton, Ohio

Restaurants open.

Restaurants close.

It's a never-ending cycle.

Entrepreneurs partner with food aficionados -- sometimes those people are one in the same person -- to launch a business, attempting to fulfill "The American Dream."

Their odds of success have improved over the past few years as Americans dine out more and more, but it's still an uphill battle, especially in the first 12 months.

Finding a number that everyone can agree accurately represents first-year failures in the restaurant industry proves elusive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the failure rate at about 1 in 5; Ohio State University research says 1 in 4.

Surviving three years in the restaurant business isn't even a 50-50 proposition. After that, well, then they just might make it.

The owners of Savor know all too well the challenges of staying open. A few months shy of celebrating the two-year anniversary since opening their "farm-to-table" fresh-food concept restaurant in Jackson Township, Tim Staub and Chad Chirilla reached the end and closed their doors last month.

As it is with the majority of business failures -- and restaurants close at about the same rate as any other small-business start-up -- the reasons Savor didn't survive appear numerous and somewhat nebulous.

In comments to entertainment editor Dan Kane, Chirilla alluded to their location on Frank Avenue, in a building where three other restaurants also have closed, and Staub said Cantonians' palates prefer "burgers and wings."

"Canton is not ready for an organic restaurant, they're just not," Staub told Kane. "Bubba's BBQ is what they want."

Not surprisingly, the resulting social media reaction to his comments was not kind. And, oh, the irony.

On Monday, another chain restaurant, Bubba's 33, will open on Dressler Road NW (at the site of the former Romano's Macaroni Grille.) Only time will tell whether Bubba's fate parallels that of Fuddruckers, which shared a similar concept and similar location.

Let's face it. Competition is fierce.

Yes, we Americans are spending more at restaurants than we are at grocery stores, but at some point too many choices means someone's dream of making it in the restaurant business won't come true. New restaurants are opening in Belden proper, at the nearby Venue and Strip, and along Dressler Road in the Thursday's Plaza area. They can't all survive -- and that goes for chains, too, which are only slightly more successful in the long run than independent operations.

In a challenging landscape of countless options, independents that appeal to a more upscale diner can not only survive in our area, but also can thrive. Witness Gervasi Vineyard, Lucca's, 91 Wood Fired Oven (two locations) and Shy Cellars. Succeeding, too, are locally owned places multiple locations and concepts, like TD's Tailgate Grill, the Ichor group and Jerzee's All American Sports Grille, for, yes, that "burgers and wings" crowd.

Give the customers what they want. Is there a more basic premise in business?

Despite the odds and myriad challenges -- financing, management, staffing, menu, location and many more -- one day soon another food-loving entrepreneur from our area will take the plunge and try to succeed in the harsh restaurant business. We toast (not necessarily with Bud Light) that spirit and hope one day we can wish them a happy third anniversary.

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