Independents have the strategic high ground over chains

Last night I was watching “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” (DD&D) and I was fascinated with the wonderfully unique places featured in each episode. Most of restaurants featured on that show have been around for many years. Sometimes for decades. And they’ve all established themselves as institutions in their communities.

As I was watching I remembered something Scott Maitland said in this video about the advantage independent restaurants have over chains…

“Competing with chain restaurants is a difficult proposition. Chains have changed a lot over the last fifteen years that I’ve been in this business. They had some real weaknesses fifteen years ago that quite frankly they’ve shored up. Their menu development is better. They have obvious pricing advantages. Interior design and all of these other things are fantastic. I’m not saying you can’t compete on those levels – I guess you can – but it’s difficult for an independent to compete with organization that can throw so much money at a concept and really flesh it out and then roll it out.

But I think that at some level, we, the independent restaurants, have the strategic high ground. And it all goes back to that idea of community again. Because by it’s definition, a chain restaurant is creating a concept that is repeatable. When you replicate something that’s going to work market after market after market, you’ve got to go to the lowest common denominator. And I think that’s the advantage we have – we know our community, we know what’s going on here, so we can reflect the idiosyncrasies in our community in our menu, and in our establishment in a way that a chain restaurant couldn’t.”


If you liked Scott’s quote, you might enjoy watching the awesome videos we made with him for our Restaurant Owners Uncorked video series.