Business ownership in a shaky economy
John Walla opened second of his Black-Eyed Susan restaurants in North Pointe shopping center. (By Kevin G. Gilbert/Staff Photographer / July 7, 2012)
Amatucci’s business isn’t at that location any longer, if it still is in business. He held a liquor license for it until August 2011, “when he sold or gave it up,” according to Carr, at the Board of License Commissioners.
Time needed to succeed
Ramkrishna “Ram” Patel is in a family partnership that opened Café Liquors, a new liquor store, this April at 1644 Wesel Blvd., where Amatucci’s business had been.
Patel, who manages the new store, said the similarity in business names is just because “I liked it.”
Last year, Patel opened Rosewood Liquor, a store in Rosewood Commons off Robinwood Drive. He said he manages that store, too.
Patel, 44, moved to Frederick County, Md., in 1997 and bought a 7-Eleven convenience store that he still owns. The following year, he said, he and his family bought the Cliffside restaurant and hotel in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., converted it to the Quality Inn and Conference Center, and sold it in about 2008.
Business at Café Liquors is “not good yet,” but, he said, any new business — regardless of the economy — needs time to succeed.
He said he is confident the local economy will improve because he’s seeing big chains such as Hobby Lobby and Sonic open here. Economic recovery is “going to take another year or so,” he said.
A second location
And then, there’s John Walla’s latest venture.
Walla, 45, said he decided to open a second Black Eyed Susan restaurant because his first was attracting more diners than he could seat on weekends and doesn’t have enough parking.
The 17102 Virginia Ave. home of the first restaurant was a small sub shop called Hickory Corner when Walla bought it in about 2003. He kept the name and added a catering business, which in 2008 he transformed into the restaurant it is today.
The difference is that when he started during what he later realized was a national recession, the restaurant “didn’t hit the projections” he had made. So, Walla said, he changed his menu and lowered prices.
Sales at the Virginia Avenue location — which he now calls Black Eyed Susan South — have been increasing since, he said. He has about 10 employees there and about 25 at his new restaurant.
Black Eyed Susan North is in the North Pointe shopping center in the same storefront occupied by Beef O’Brady’s from 2007 to 2009.
Walla said he knew the short-lived sports pub and restaurant had been there before him, but neither that nor the empty storefronts near it discouraged him.
“It’s a little on the slower side on the customer base coming in, (but) it still is a good location” with lots of parking, he said.
“You have to” have faith and hope, he said. “I don’t see it coming back” to the economy’s roaring days of 2004 and 2005.
Success in the future will be measured differently, he said.
“I think people are more aware of the different (economic) bubbles that burst,” he said. “I think people will be a little more shrewd with their monies.”