My personal back story has many twists and turns, and one of those involve my time living and working in El Paso, Texas. I moved out of the Sun City permanently in 2006, and having gone back this past June for a visit I got to see some of the changes taking place there.
There are some positive things happening, but recently I've learned that two of the most popular, long-time restaurants have closed permanently.
Cappetto's Italian Restaurant, first opened in 1956, and Jaxon's Restaurant and Brewing Company, a near 40-year institution, have both shut their doors.
The El Paso Times breaks down what is known about both situations.
Having operated an unsuccessful restaurant, I know that debt and taxes pile up fast. It's part of the struggle of the business, any business really, but especially when you have other ongoing issues like getting customers through the door, ensuring the food quality is high and keeping workers, many of whom don't make very much, happy.
But these cases are restaurants who fell behind on their bills, while also trying to expand. Jaxon's at one point had 4 locations, Cappetto's 2 locations, along with selling products in grocery stores, and catering every UTEP Miner event, luncheon, that I can remember.
No matter how successful a restaurant is, there is always a chance to be taken when discussing expansion. While it may sound like "Monday Morning Quarterbacking," I believe that if the customers keep flowing in-and-out of the door at one location, keep it going until it's ABSOLUTELY necessary to open a second location. Spreading yourself too thin can happen quicker than you might think.
Another lesson is you HAVE to pay your taxes. Some bills can wait (believe it or not you're taught that in culinary school), but the ones that are absolute musts are taxes, gas, electric, rent, payroll. Purveyors usually are the ones you get far behind on, unless you're really on your game, or have an accountant that can help out. It's a point brought up by L&J Cafe owner Leo Duran in the story.
It's also interesting to note that the article mentions some negative reviews on the Internet at sites like Yelp and Urbanspoon.
I've frequented both restaurants countless times, and have enjoyed my experiences for the most part. More so, I've seen streams of customers turn those tables over both at lunch and dinner.
While some negative reviews can appear online causing a hit to an eatery's reputation, both Jaxon's and Cappetto's had loyal followings. The web review may have been a factor, but I'm not sure how much the bottom line suffered.
No matter how long a restaurant is in business, and no matter how much it's lauded, there's always a risk of falling behind both in the bank account and in relevancy. It proves how tough the business is. You must balance changing tastes, rising costs, customer needs, all with an eye to running the business side, dealing with employee issues and evolving in this competitive industry.