The restaurant business is a tough one. Craig Barbour already knows that.
Barbour ran a successful restaurant — on wheels. His Roots food truck was one of the first in Charlotte, and was so popular that the fleet eventually grew to three.
Then he sold two and parked the third, trading in his wheels for a building in SouthEnd and a catering business that serves more upscale food.
The Roots name, however, stayed with him.
“I wouldn’t recommend anyone open a restaurant without brand recognition,” Barbour told Scott Dunstan and Brian Young on the Dunstan Group’s Brandbuilders Podcast.
You can listen to the entire podcast here: https://soundcloud.com/dunstangroup/brandbuilders-craig-barbour-roots
Barbour said Roots Cafe and Roots Catering opened at the end of June, also known in the restaurant business as “the slowest part of the entire year.”
“The main challenges we faced is just the unknown,” said Barbour. Food trucks and restaurants don’t really correlate on the numbers. He had to, instead, shoot for what kind of traffic he wanted and needed to make the business work.
“The neighborhood right around us has been extremely supportive,” he said, speaking of the same SouthEnd area that made his food truck so popular. His new restaurant is located just off South Blvd., behind Chipotle, near the corner of Magnolia.
Weekend brunches have been very popular, but now his biggest challenge is letting customers know the cafe is open past 2 p.m. Previous restaurants in that area weren’t open for afternoons or dinner.
Another huge challenge is letting customers know the new cafe and catering company are a step up from the truck, both in price and in elegance. Their chef has a fine dining background, and the meals are a little more elaborate.
He understands a new restaurant doesn’t have the bank roll of major restaurant groups, but great service and local farm-fresh food can make a difference.
“We can provide the best service and try to create the best food we possibly can,” he said.