Vicksburg has a tendency for chain restaurants to fail while local establishments thrive. It begs the question, “Why?”
People on social media are complaining about Starbucks and how it is not open all day. People are saying it’s the supply chain, it’s a staffing problem or it’s a training problem. Many years ago Red Lobster was here, but it didn’t last that long. People speculated on the reasoning behind it, but for whatever reason, it failed. Margaritaville and the Landshark Grill didn’t last for very long either. They spent a bunch of money and really gave Vicksburg a first-class venue, but it failed.
Meanwhile, places like Cafe Paradiso are thriving and having their busiest year ever. Fit Chef under Kevin Roberts is about to open a third location and Chef Kev is the King of the World – and deservedly so. He’s climbed mountains to get where he is. Places like Toney’s on 61 North, the Beechwood and Rusty’s stay full.
Dairy Queen opened big but fell off and is only at a fraction of what it was doing when it first opened.
But what is it? Why do all these new restaurants struggle or fail when they come to Vicksburg?
To find the answers, the Vicksburg Daily News called some of the local restaurateurs and asked them why they thought that happened.
“It’s a leadership problem,” said Kevin Roberts, founder of Fit Chef. “It has nothing to do with employee availability or environment. I don’t have an employee problem anymore. I have a stack of applications. I promise you it has nothing to do with the City of Vicksburg. There are plenty of people here who want to work.”
“Management,” said Charles Toney, owner of Toney’s Seafood Grill on 61 North. “How they manage to keep it going in other places I don’t know. Golden Corral for example, when Sid was there they did great. Another guy took over and they went to hell in a handbasket. Ain’t nobody gonna take care of your business like you. Everything’s got to do with ownership and management – how you treat people, how you take care of your employees.”
Julie Ford with Cafe Paradiso said, “There are a lot of good reasons, but it starts at the top and goes down. You have to have good local people in there that know the community – wouldn’t you agree? There’s plenty of people who want jobs. You have to give people a chance and train them. We’ve got some great people that are not normal hires but they’ve become some of my best employees.”
So, there you have it. Three of Vicksburg’s biggest and most successful restaurants are saying the exact same thing. It starts at the top and you’ve got to have the right person, that knows Vicksburg, leading the way.