The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 22, 2014

Wally Kennedy: Downtown restaurants hanging in there

JOPLIN, Mo. — The first year of anything can be difficult. I’m happy to report that three downtown restaurants have or will soon be completing their first year of operation.

The restaurants are M&M Bistro, 402 S. Main St.; Sawmill BBQ, 612 S. Main St.; and Table Mesa Bistro in the Gryphon Building at 1027 S. Main St. Table Mesa and Sawmill have already had their one-year anniversaries. M&M Bistro will celebrate its one-year anniversary on March 26. Look for an anniversary special that day.

I recently revisited all of them to see if their food is still as good as the first time I tried them. At M&M, I had a tender beef dish with vegetables, salad and soup. At Sawmill, I had beef brisket, seasoned fries and coleslaw. At Table Mesa, I had a pork taco, chicken enchilada and a cup of tortilla soup. All of them cost about $10 each for lunch.

I can tell you there is a reason they survived their first year. In each case, the food was fresh and served quickly. I think Table Mesa was better this time than the first time I tried it. The pork taco was very tasty, and the service was much faster.

Another plus for Table Mesa is the new parking lot on the south side of the Gryphon (pronounced “griffin”). It makes access to the restaurant that much quicker.

So why is the first year important for a restaurant? I turned to some experts, Perry Group International and The Restaurant Brokers, to get the answer to that. Both have examined the average life span of restaurants.

The Perry Group concluded that most restaurants close during their first year. Seventy percent of those that make it past the first year close their doors in the next three to five years. About 90 percent of the restaurants that are still operating after five years will stay in business for at least 10 years.

The Restaurant Brokers concluded that up to 90 percent of independent establishments close during the first year and that the remaining restaurants will have an average life span of five years.

Opening a new restaurant has its challenges, particularly for independent restaurants and small chains. What makes it even more challenging for these Joplin restaurants is that they are surviving in the downtown area where parking, access and other factors can affect sales.

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