Last Thursday night, my two daughters and I went to the Coconut Thai Cuisine restaurant in the College Plaza shopping center located at the corner of Fair Road and Zetterower Avenue. Every time I go in there, I appreciate what it takes to make a restaurant "go."
In an industry where the failure rate exceeds 90 percent, I personally cannot imagine opening a restaurant that wasn't franchised. Coconuts, as it is referred to by its regulars, has been open about two and half years. In that short period of time, it has developed a very loyal clientele, enthralled with both the food and the service.
The restaurant is owned by Calvin Phan with Ryan Blalock serving as its manager. Blalock said the restaurant isn't resting on its success - there are plans to roll out a revamped menu the second week of September.
"We are also going to close for one day over Labor Day weekend, so that we can do a little rearranging and redecorating inside," Blalock said. "We want to put a few more tables in here, because it can get very crowded."
I don't know what plans Phan has for expansion of Coconuts, if any, but it isn't lost on me that Coconuts sits in the shadow (literally, almost) of another Statesboro startup - Zaxby's.
Founded in 1990 by GSU alum Tony Townley and Zach McLeroy, Zaxby's has grown to be a driving force in the casual dining industry with 505 restaurants in 13 states. A little note of interest, the Statesboro location had the highest gross sales in the restaurant chain last year.
Sticking with the entrepreneurial storyline, look for a new restaurant to open in a well known location in downtown. Although details haven't been made public, I have met the gentleman who is opening the restaurant, and it is my hope that he will be successful also.
Yet again, I remain amazed at the bravery.
But, I guess all you have to do is drive by the Zaxby's in on Fair Road in Statesboro on any given "crowded" afternoon and imagine just what could be.
So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
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