The Greasy Spoon vs. Fine Dining

by Don Caldwell

There is a greasy spoon, truck stop style, dive restaurant near my home. They serve some of the worst food I have ever eaten in my life. Even with things that would seem impossible to mess up, they some how find a way.

So who eats at this joint? There are mainly 3 types:

  • Those who cannot afford someplace better (they do have cheap specials).
  • Those who have the money to eat someplace better, but are really cheap.
  • And those rare few, who God help them, actually enjoy the food. Although I suspect that many of the latter group, are actually in one of the first two, but in denial about it.

Then there is me. I am part of a very small percentage of their clientele. I hate the food there, but I still go. Why? Partly because I have a sick sense of humor and it amuses me. But more importantly, I go there, or someplace similar, about once every six months to remind myself why I enjoy fine dining so much. I go there to remind myself why I do not want to go there. I go there to remind myself why I work so hard to be successful.

And yet they stay busy. They see far more customers in a day than my favorite fine dining restaurant does. Of course they are open 24/ 7, while the fine dining establishment is only open for dinner and is closed on Mondays.

Do you think that the management of the fine dining restaurant is worried? No chance. They have not extended their hours, they do not have “early bird specials”. In fact, the average item on their menu is about five times as much as a meal at the local greasy spoon. And yet (despite being open about a third of the time that the greasy spoon is), they make more money. And so do their employees.

The fine dining establishment does not have to sweat the other guys. Despite the fact that they are far outnumbered by cheaper restaurants that cater to a larger audience, they stay the course. And as long as they stay unique, maintain their high standard of quality and service, and have a solid business model, they continue to thrive.

Why? Because there will always be people who appreciate quality over price. It may mean selling to a smaller audience, and it will definitely mean working harder to prove yourself. But when you finally find your place, and your particular clientele, the rewards are amazing. And, as long as you stay unique, maintain your high standard of quality and service, and have a solid business model, you will continue to thrive as well.

In short, bring on the greasy spoon twisters. I’m ready, and so are you.