Monday, October 29, 2012

The Tiny Trailer

Look what I just bought... a "new" vintage trailer! I've been on the lookout for one of these for at least 4 years now and when a local facebook friend/customer of mine posted that this was for sale, I jumped at the deal. 

The previous owners did a great job of refurbishing the trailer and it was super cute inside. I'm planning to do some paint and fabric updates to create a more modern look. 

The stove is orange. I'm obsessed with it.

I'm planning to keep you all up to date on the work I'm doing. Just started painting a bit today!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Blaming the Economy

Does anyone else think it strange that people always seem to blame the economy when a business closes it's doors?

A restaurant in my small town closed this weekend. I'm not sure of the exact date it was established, I believe it has been around my whole life (so... est. circa 1984). From my early memories, I knew this place was the fancy place in town for no other reason than that I never went there. My mom went there a few times with her friends, but I was not invited and until very recently I had still never even seen the inside.

I became intrigued a few months ago when I started to hear rumblings about the place and how it looked like a library inside and was essentially out of fashion, yet almost kitschy, and had a happy hour menu.

Please understand that there are very few happy hours in this town. I was psyched.

I invited a group of friends, eight of us in total, to get happy hour on a Friday afternoon. We sat in these high-backed loveseats drinking cocktails straight out of the 80's (lots of rum), eating delicious fried zuchinni and potato skins/boats/whateveryoucallthosethings, and observing the round back brass and leather chairs, bookshelves and poker memorabilia. We sat there for three hours and ate nearly everything on their menu and had a great time checking out the crowd. A table of lawyers sat next to us and some other groups came in for drinks and appetizers, along with all of the patrons sitting in the dark wood booths across from the bar.

This place was kind of great. Not only that, but it was busy while we were there.

Why did it close?

Well, according to the local newspaper's story, the businesses profits had been declining over the years and had taken a particular dip in recent years. However, they were in the black at this time and figured they should end on a high note.

The newspaper's headline disturbed me. With a sense of doomsday, it declared this business another victim of our plummeting economy (in some other words similar to that).

Here's my theory. This restaurant was once thought of as the only fine-dining establishment in town, maybe in the entire county. It was on-trend in the 80's and 90's and had a great clientele. Since then trends have changed and, as far as I can tell, their branding and marketing efforts did not.

Now, to all of you reading this, when was the last time you went to any restaurant that called itself a "fine dining" restaurant. This is a working class post-industrial miller lite drinking community. Nobody is getting dressed up for a big night out. The local idea of a special night out involves driving to Olympia to eat at the Olive Garden.

Could this restaurant had survived if they became known as a local establishment with history and a great price on steak and beer? Maybe. Or if they revamped their happy hour menu and cocktail list to suit a younger crowd? Probably.

Yet one more issue that I believe killed this business. They have zero web presence. No real Facebook page. No website.

I'm a total product of my generation. When I'm going out to eat, I use my Yelp app on my phone to see what's around me. Even in this small town where I grew up. I look at their reviews first. Second, I look at the pictures of the place. I like to know what I'm walking into. Third, I like to review the menu, even if it isn't priced, I just like to see what my options are before I commit.

Remember how I had never been there until a few months ago? I literally had no idea what it looked like inside. NO IDEA. It could have been covered in gold and the dress code required sequins for all I knew. People always said it was a fancy place, and that turned me off. Why would I go somewhere fancy when I could go to the local pub for a burger and a beer in a relaxed atmosphere? A typical evening with any of my friends looks something like this: We get hungry. We say "well where should we eat"... we think about it for about 10 minutes and can literally only think of 2 places (neither of which are this particular restuarant). We go to the same place every time.

So, I'm here to claim that this restaurant closed not because of the economy, but because of a lack of understanding of their market and failed/zero efforts to re-brand.

I hope someone comes in and picks up the pieces to start something new. And I hope that our local newspapers and community members will not continue to blame the "economy" for all of their business problems. There's so much room for greatness in this economy if people are willing to put in some effort and understand the need to change.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Dry The River at The Tractor Tavern

I went up to Seattle to see a show on Wednesday. It's times like these that I have sudden realizations that I'm starting to get a little older. Driving two hours for a tiny live show and then driving home and working early the next morning? I really had to psych myself up for this one, but it was worth it. I event got to see a few Seattle friends who came out with last minute notice. Love my friends who always make a good effort to hang out. I miss them!

Dry The River on their first U.S. headlining tour. I have to be honest, I have a real issue not understanding the British accent. It's been a life-long problem. I only realized the seriousness of it when I flew British Airlines and couldn't understand the announcements. The anxiety from my fear of flying was enhanced by the fact that I might not understand the emergency instructions announced, should something happen. Anyway, these guys seemed very charming even though I did not know what they were talking about.

The bass player had a habit of rising up on his tippy toes while getting energized by all the the lovely music he was creating. He must wear through a lot of shoes.

They're performance that night ranged from a capella harmonies to full on headbanging/thrashing rock on stage. The best combination of things, I think!

They encore'd with one last song sung a capella from the middle of the crowd. The entire show was great and well worth the trip up to the "big city." The crowd was also pretty fantastic. Approximately 4 guys were there who were obviously drunk (on a Wednesday night?) and therefore made fools of themselves by saying awkwardly loud things during the quietest of moments... nevertheless it was all forgiven because I loved the guy who yelled "2 more *trails off. awkward pause*... 4 more songs!"