The world may be getting more high tech every day, but that doesn't mean people aren't nostalgic for the good old days … and are willing to pay for the experience.
5 & Diner, a nostalgic restaurant chain that offers an authentic '50s-style family dining experience regularly hosting classic car shows and sock hops, is cashing in on this desire for everything old.
The chain currently has 12 locations in five states. Bob Watson, CEO of 5 & Diner, tells BusinessNewsDaily why he thinks it's a good time to be in the business of nostalgia.
BusinessNewsDaily: Why did you think this was a good business to buy?
Bob Watson:The 5 & Diner concept is unlike anything else in the marketplace — from its 1950’s décor and interior design to the menu filled with comfort food. When you walk into one of our diners, you immediately feel like you’re taking a trip back in time. As a franchisee, we saw the potential to grow the brand and decided to buy the entire franchise in August 2008.
BND: Did you change the business significantly from how it was before you bought it?
B.W.: We have not made significant changes but have tightened up our restaurant operations and procedures. We have streamlined our menu and food items, which will help our franchisees better control food costs. In many ways, we have “modernized” our procedures but at the same time not forgetting that we're a '50s diner.
BND: Why do you think people are so nostalgic for an earlier time?
B.W.: When people think of the '50s they think of a more peaceful time in history. I think that television and music from that era plays a large role in people’s fascination of the time period.
BND: What do you do — besides the décor — to create that feeling for them?
B.W.: Décor does play a large role in creating '50s nostalgia, but so does our menu and customer service. Our menu is based on comfort food items like meatloaf, chicken pot pie, three-egg omelets, milkshakes and banana splits. Our customer service is predicated on service with a smile. We engage each and every customer and make them feel like they’re the only guest in the restaurant. This is something you aren’t finding at every restaurant these days. We also hold classic car shows and sock hops regularly at all our locations, bringing that fun back to families.
BND: How does a business that tries to be "old-fashioned" change and innovate?
B.W.: If you don’t change and innovate then your concept is not going to be around for too long. We have no problem changing, but we’re always looking to continue being true to who we are, which is a '50s diner. I think that our customers have a certain expectation of the 5 & Diner experience and we are always looking to build upon that.