The Triangle Business Journal takes a look at hospitality groups bringing elevated experiences to the suburbs of Raleigh. With these industry “risks” also could create a challenge to the growing creativity from restaurants looking to “wow” guests’ tastebuds.
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Amber Moshakos, president of LM Restaurants, remembers her parents facing that challenge when starting the company 40 years ago. The industry has always been perceived as risky, she said. “There’s a low barrier to entry and a high failure rate. The banks look at us as being risky operations,” Moshakos said. “If you don’t know what you’re doing, or you don’t understand the magic that goes into the hospitality industry, it’s very easy to fail.” But to her, the potential rewards from opening a unique concept are worth the risk. Among LM Restaurant’s other holdings is the Oceanic restaurant in Wilmington.
Along with “Top Chef” alum Katsuji Tanabe, LM Restaurants recently opened a new restaurant with a concept unique concept. In a 5,500-square-foot space in Cary, A’Verde Cocina and Tequila Library serves elevated Mexican dishes with a dash of Japanese influence. The restaurant is located near Crossroads Plaza in a shopping center featuring Red Robin Gourmet Burgers (Nasdaq: RRGB), Panera Bread and LM Restaurants’ Carolina Ale House. The building was already owned by the restaurant group and previously housed Wild Wing Café.
“We had to consider, are people in the suburban market ready for more of a downtown experience?” Moshakos said. “The cuisine is elevated, the music is a bit louder, everything’s a little edgier. But restaurant operators like a challenge.”
But in this era of a tight labor market and high inflation, Moshakos, current chair for the board of directors of the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, is well aware of the challenges for an industry that operates on thin margins. Already, the Circus restaurant in Raleigh has announced it will close after 48 years because it can’t find staff.
“Those mom-and-pop restaurants, are they going to be able to survive? Are they going to be able to weather this crisis that we’re facing?” Moshakos said. “I really hope that they do. Because having a healthy restaurant community, it’s good for community overall. I don’t want to see restaurants fail.”