on competition: there's more than enough to go around
We take food seriously here in the South. And while healthy stores Trader Joe's, Starbucks and Whole Foods do a booming business, the biscuit game here is strong. So when people tell me they are afraid to start a business or project because of competition, I tell them about my neighborhood.
Stilesboro Road is a widely traveled street in this area. From beginning to end, it's about 13 miles, give or take. The road merges with another and changes names, but it is, essentially a straight line, connecting three small towns. And on that road there are no fewer than five breakfast restaurants which specialize in biscuits. There's Reveille Cafe; Stilesboro Biscuits, Louise's Restaurant, Mountain Biscuits and Red Eyed Mule.
I love biscuits, but let's be honest here...breakfast biscuits aren't exactly revolutionary. It's flour, fat, salt and milk. Oh, and egg. Not, as Miranda Priestly from The Devil Wears Prada would say, groundbreaking. Some biscuits might be round, or rectangular or square or open faced. But it's a biscuit. Delicious, but still...a biscuit.
All of those restaurants are within just a few miles of each other; and they are each wildly successful.
Each restaurant serves breakfast and lunch only; a few couple close before noon, but the rest are open until 2. And every weekend, they're packed. Every. Single. Weekend. Similar menus, similar hours, similar ambiance.
Even their strategies are similar; they play to their strengths and locations. Louise's is near Kennesaw Mountain, a local landmark. If you drive past Kennesaw Mountain you can't miss Louise's. And sooner or later, everyone around here drives past Kennesaw Mountain. Louise's is inescapable..
Mountain Biscuit is right across the street from Louise's Restaurant, but they have an outdoor patio and are dog friendly. Mountain Biscuit's restaurant looks like a cozy little white house. And not just any house - it looks familiar enough that, even if you didn't grow up in a house quite like it, you knew someone who did. It looks like home.
Stilesboro Biscuit is not near any other retail or restaurants; there's a long stretch of road, private homes, then, BOOM. Restaurant. But it's close to a church, four schools, and the children's recreational soccer fields. It's become a community gathering place. Weekends are packed. There's sometimes a line of cars waiting to pull into the tiny parking lot. The backlog causes drivers to have a slow down and gawk...several of my neighbors tried Stilesboro Biscuits just because they were curious about the popularity.
Red Eyed Mule is in the opposite direction. The building is small - so small I could stand with my back against one wall, throw a penny and have it hit the opposite wall. And that's saying something, because I can't throw. The counter where you order is tiny, so if you have have personal space issues you might hate the person in line next to you. Oh, and sometimes you have to share a table. But the Mule is located within walking (or a very short driving) distance to the hospital, a cluster of doctor's offices and several office parks. The restaurant lists the daily specials on Facebook, and within 45 minutes of posting the place is usually packed.
Reveille is newer and serves from a larger menu, but is still a breakfast/biscuit place. What's more, it is the only sit down breakfast option in a portion of town with five large subdivisions. The only other option is Waffle House. No disrespect to Waffle House! Reveille is always crowded. Every day, no exceptions.
Each restaurant thrives in their own way because they do it in their own way. They keep their eyes on their own paper and do the work.
They all know there are more than enough biscuits to go around.