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Inside Bulloch Business
So how are new restaurants doing in the Boro?
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    Admit it. You sit around with your friends and co-workers and complain about the number of restaurants in Statesboro. "I wish we had more restaurants here," you say. "I wish we had more to choose from."
     I often wonder myself why there aren't more opening in this booming college town. Well, the facts are that the restaurant industry is one in which the start-up costs can be very high, securing financing can be extremely difficult if not impossible, and estimated first year failure rates are at least 27 percent (some estimates are much higher). Case in point, the recent closing of Chef Roe's, the recent closing of The Great Wall, and the ever present, empty Shell House restaurant on the Bypass.  
    I worry about new restaurants when they open here. It involves a lot of capital and a lot of risk, and I want them to be successful. So, I thought I would take a quick look at three local restaurants which have opened this year to see how they were doing.
    It was last February when Archibald's on South Main Street became Gnat's Landing, an offshoot of the very successful Gnat's Landing restaurant on St. Simons Island. Local Gnat's manager and co-owner of the Statesboro location, Robby Richardson, said with a lot of hard work and long hours, the restaurant has exceeded expectations.
    "We have been able to get the old Archibald's crowd back and add onto it," Richardson said. "We have added some things to the menu like crab legs, and put in trivia night and wing night, and have been able to build up the crowds."
    "We have done better than we projected," he said. "I knew this was a great location, it was just a matter of putting in the right concept."
    Whereas, the Gnat's location my seem a "no brainer" to some, the new McAllister's Deli location in the Market District behind East Georgia Regional may not have been so obvious to many.
    "That location had everything we were looking for," said Steve Popper, co-owner of the Statesboro McAlister's. "It had proximity to a large professional workforce as well as the university. I don't think Statesboro is 'over restauranted' at all. Our restaurant was the right concept, at the right time, in the right place."
    It would appear that Popper knew what he was talking about. In the five weeks that McAlister's has been opened, he said the Statesboro franchise has ranked in the top 20 in gross sales among the 200 or so McAlister's restaurants across the country, with the exception of one week when it ranked 21.
    "We are off to a great start, and we are very grateful that the community and students have been so supportive of us," Popper said. "I know we are in a 'honeymoon' phase of sorts, but the feedback has been very positive and we are just going to continue to provide great customer service and great food. We have been tickled to death."
    With guarded optimism, Richard Marz opened the Midtown Coffeehouse on South Main just two weeks ago. General Manager, Scott Bryant, said they have done a terrific business since opening.
    "When we were building the restaurant, everybody was excited about a coffee house opening," Bryant said. "It just so happens that we have great food. That great food has generated a wonderful lunch crowd that ironically doesn't drink much coffee."
    Bryant said scheduling his staff has been a challenge because the coffee house has not established a distinct ebb and flow yet.

    Until next week, I bid adieu.
    Got a scoop for Jan? Call her at (912) 489-9463 or e-mail her at jmoore@statesboroherald.net