One of the major considerations in opening a retail unit, shop or restaurant used to be (and I assume still is) location. Certainly when I went to college they would drum it into us – location, location, location, thus ensuring there’s the right amount of foot fall and getting that all important passing trade, which is why shopping centres and retail parks always have an “anchor” store to attract that visitors.
Bearing this thought in mind, I drive on the A4 between Marlborough and Hungerford (in Berkshire) daily and pass a restaurant called “The Palm” which itself is really nice but it’s slap bang next to a tumble down disused garage and partially demolished building which have been left in disrepair for quite a few years by the owner (not the restaurant owner I might add).
The important thing here is that the Palm is a really nice Indian restaurant and as busy as heck so their location next to a “dump” doesn’t seem to have effected them, but I have often wondered what possessed somebody to open a restaurant in such a location and have to say I was put off eating there until recently when somebody I knew recommended it highly.
Getting back to the point and thinking about it a bit more though, to all intents and purposes, The Palm is actually in a reasonable location (not far from Newbury, Hungerford and Marlborough and several villages all within half an hour’s drive) and is also highly visible as you drive past it on the A4 (if you can see past the burnt out petrol station beside it that is).
In these days of social media and online review sites it is easier to build up a reputation and become a destination restaurant (or shop) in your own right and this has certainly happened to The Palm. I’ve been there a few times now; the food is always good and the atmosphere even better. The restaurant is generally pretty busy; buzzing in fact and you have to reserve a table in advance.
I’ve spoken to the owner a few times (he’s quite charming and accommodating by the way which also helps I should think) and he says that he had hoped that repairs on the property next door would be completed and has even offered to pay for them himself to speed things up, but without success. He agreed that, on speaking to some of his clientele, the consensus was that it had initially put them off visiting and they only visited after local recommendations.
It goes to show though, whilst having a property in the right place would provide more passing trade, a good product along with great service at the right price and with the added benefit of social media can override the age old maxim – it just may take a tad longer.