I visited my home town recently and noticed that four, fairly-new restaurants were out of business. Restaurants going out of business is certainly not news--it happens all the time--but these four should have survived and thrived, but didn't.
Case #1: Joe's Crab Shack. Located at perhaps the busiest intersection in the area, Joe's opened just two or three years ago. Joe's is a chain of restaurants. As the name suggests, they serve crab and other seafood in a fish camp atmosphere.
Case #2: Lucky Buns. I believe this was a local entrepreneur's project. Built a beautiful building (see picture) on a nice busy street near a freeway off-ramp. The food was hamburgers and ice cream.
Case #3: Chevy's. Also seemed to have a great location and built a nice building. Chevy's is part of a chain and serves Mexican food.
Case #4: Juanita's. Another Mexican restaurant. Pretty good location in a busy commercial center. They built a very nice building to provide that "old Mexico" feel.
All four restaurants opened with great fanfare and significant crowds. Within a few years they were all closed. Why? I have no inside information. I haven't talked to the owners or any one else, but I have a hunch. In addition to remarkable facilities, good locations, and plenty of publicity they all had one significant thing in common: mediocre food.
I lived in the area when all four restaurants opened. I ate at three of the four exactly once. I never ate at the fourth because I had friends that did and told me it wasn't that great. In the restaurant business location and atmosphere may bring them in, but it is the food that brings them back.
How does it apply if you are not in the restaurant business? Make sure you know what will bring your customers back and then focus on making that aspect of your business remarkable, the rest will take care of itself.