Archive for Sunday, December 20, 2009

Kansans still opening eateries, despite economy

December 20, 2009

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— A sour economy hasn’t stopped Jerry Beier and other Kansans from getting into the restaurant business.

Beier and three partners pooled their savings so that they could open the Andale Mexican Restaurant in central Topeka recently, demonstrating that in a few neighborhoods, the business still is cooking a little.

Why take the risk?

“It’s a different mindset — the whole entrepreneurial spirit,” Beier said.

National figures show that half of new restaurants fail by the end of the first year, with another half of those remaining failing before the end of the second year, said Pat Pesci, director of the hotel and restaurant management program at Kansas State University.

Yet Kansans keep trying, and that’s true even when the economy isn’t strong.

“Opening a restaurant is one of the most popular ways to become an entrepreneur,” Pesci said.

Pesci said fast food restaurants and “fast casual” restaurants with limited service but better cuisine are faring better than high-end, full-service restaurants.

People still like to eat out occasionally but frequent less expensive restaurants, he said.

“They are trending down instead of trending up,” Pesci said.

In Topeka, Wesley and Brenda Glenn took over the Eagle’s Nest restaurant, downstairs from a Harley-Davidson dealership, near the Kansas Expocentre.

Brenda Glenn said business has been fine the past three months, and she’ll feel successful if the restaurant can survive a full year. But she’s worried about the winter.

“I’m not sure what that’s going to bring,” she said.

Beier and his Andale partners didn’t bother approaching a bank about financing their venture.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be possible, anyway,” Beier said. “The only thing banks want to loan money for less than a restaurant is a bar.”

Yet they’re already contemplating opening a second restaurant, perhaps in north Topeka.

“There are long hours, certainly, to begin with,” Beier said. “There is no such thing as a day off.”

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