The papers today are reporting the closure of the Station Cafe in Treorchy, Wales. Opened in 1935, this is one of the final remaining Italian cafes which was opened by migrants enticed by the booming South Wales mining industry. Customer loyalty could only take them so far.
Businesses like this, and the recently closed Bruccianis in Leicester traded on their identity as a family business. Customers express delight at so much of the experience of visiting reminding them of childhood visits to those establishments. The ice cream floats, original Rowntree sweet jars and faded decor.
Building a vibrant customer base
However, this vocal loyalty clearly does not translate into day to day footfall – essential for an independent food business to survive. The fierce allegiance to these generations old cafes is no longer enough to keep them sustainable.
It is perhaps partially attributable to the fact that their core audience is an aging one, but what this speaks more to is that they are not successful in attracting new audiences. Newer businesses who reassess their business model and try new things are more prosperous when it comes to building new loyalties.
Plant-based eating, local sourcing and clever use of social media. These are all examples of where contemporary eateries are tapping into current trends to rejuvenate their offer. Quite often this does not mean dramatic change to your whole menu, but small tweaks to make sure your business embraces a plastic-free approach, creates a family-friendly space and caters for a range of tastes.
The most important thing is to let people know about how your business is adapting to make THEIR visit more comfortable and enjoyable.
If you want to reach more potential customers, talk to Thirst Media about small business approaches to marketing & PR.