Note: This is a reprise of one of my first blog posts and dates back to 2010.
Hoofin’ it over to Safeway on a lovely Monday, I pass the restaurant I mentioned a short while ago.
There has been some progress since then. It appears that the new eatery is now in business, though, oddly, it’s closed for the advertised lunch trade. The awning over the door sports a new and nicely printed panel with “Now Open,” the new name (Christina’s), the hours, and the tagline “All American Cuisine.” Just below the awning, a big banner bearing the words “1/2 Pound Hamburger and Fries, $5.95” flaps in the breeze. A free-standing blackboard advertises a blues band on Friday nights. (No more hookah lounge. Darn!)
Despite these efforts, the place has an unfinished feeling. The big palms from its Mediterranean incarnation still stand sentry by the door in their gorgeous, ornate pots—too heavy to move, I guess. The name of the old restaurant still appears on the windows, and so do those cheesy-looking stick-on letters with the hours. Peering through the window, I see that the place still looks Mediterranean. As I turn and start walking, I notice that the sign on the roof refers to the place as “All American California Cuisine.” A small inconsistency, but an inconsistency nonetheless.
Lest you think I’m being a bit mean-spirited about branding snafus, let me say that I’m rooting for the place to survive and thrive. My neighborhood could use good saloon food and entertainment, and the owners and employees are nice, hard-working people. You should have seen their pride when they first opened their doors—as a Mediterranean restaurant called Tartousa—six months ago.
So, I’ll clap my hands and wish for the best. It saved Tinkerbell, but it may not work as well here. As my sister-in-law Betty says, if you’re going to change your identity, don’t do it half way and then stop.
There have been a number of restaurants—at least five—in that location since. To be fair, branding is important, but so is location. Put shaky branding together with a poor location, and success is not assured. In this case, there’s a thriving Mexican restaurant a couple of doors down, and parking is not terrific.