“I think people over the years have simply dined out more,” he said. “But we have customers and employees that have been here since the day we opened. We have regular customers that have supported us for over a decade. We’re most concerned with what happens inside our four walls and we do the best we can.
“When the economy softened, we paid attention to that. We have our half-price wine and martini nights where we give our guests a break. We have a loyalty program, which is a VIP card that we give to any guest that wants one and it tracks their purchases and gives back 10 percent of what they spend. Those kinds of things are designed to show appreciation and say, ‘Hey, we know we’re not the cheapest place in town, but we think we’re the best place in town’.”
Added Kirby, “I say that you just need to anticipate what people are expecting or wanting. Just know your clientele, giving them what they expect.”
Cunningham says good food or not, success that has been built comes with how people are treated the moment they walk in the door, something he never takes for granted at his restaurants.
“I think we’re a people business, and that’s kind of a cliché, but reality is that it takes good people to please guests when they come in the door,” he said. “It takes good cooks, good management, it takes good servers to have the personality and connectability to make the guests feel like they want to come back. I’ve learned over my career as a life lesson, it’s about how you make people feel. At the end of the day, you have to make them feel like they enjoyed their visit.”