I love sashimi! My first exposure to high quality raw fish, oysters, and clams was as a kid growing up in the rain shadow of Manhattan. At the age of seven, I learned the delicacy of raw clams on the half shell with a dash of Tabasco sauce served on a plain white dish at Sardi's on West 44th Street in New York City. So it is fortunate to have three very good sushi places within as many blocks from my office in the Haymarket District - Dozo, Hiro 88, and Blue.
While enjoying a night out with family at Dozo before last nights James Taylor concert, we had a conversation about - How many sushi/sashimi places are supportable in such close proximity? What differentiates one from the other? Do these establishments prefer to be located near the steak and potatoes restaurants? And, will they survive in the feast-and-famine cycle of an entertainment district?
These questions pertain to other restaurants, too. Can the Haymarket really support two Irish pubs that are adjacent to each other? I have spent time throughout Ireland. While there is slight variation in meals by region and coast, the basics of blood sausage, sheppards pie, and beef stew do not vary too much.
Which leads me to offer some words of support to these restauranteurs.
Know your customers. By that I mean, study their lifestyle profiles, preferences, likes and dislikes. Customer metrics recorded through reward or loyalty programs and social media, for example, can be matched with consumer lifestyle profiles from Nielsen or Experian. This information is helpful in target marketing.
Know the trade area retail market. Especially pay close attention to retail sales volume for full service restaurants relative to the complementary establishments such as retail shops and boutiques, offices, and visitor attractions. Daytime foot traffic is as important as nighttime entertainment.
Know your market share. Moreover, have a strategy to intentionally differentiate your offerings and price point. This is about competitive advantage. If you are one of three sushi bars or one of two adjacent Irish pubs, then what makes you different from the others?
Of course, I hope they all survive. The Haymarket, with Canopy Street, Pinnacle Bank Arena, and The Rail Yard, and adjacent to the University, is a fun, vibrant, and energetic place. These restaurants add a long-desired diversity of flavor to Lincoln, an attractively youthful city.