An interesting move (literally) is being reported by the Kansas City Star today. Lulu’s Thai Noodle Shop & Satay Bar will vacate its space near the corner of Southwest Boulevard and Broadway and relocate to a spot at 2030 Central street, just around the corner.
Anyone who has been to Lulu’s during First Friday shenanigans or even at the height of lunch hour during the week knows that waiting for a table is pretty standard. I like Lulu’s well enough but I never understood the intense loyalty and mania it engenders. Nonetheless, the new space is larger and should accommodate the throngs that will certainly be forthcoming.
Every restaurant takes a risk in moving, however. When you change locations you open yourself up to the criticism of “not being as good as the old place.” Stroud’s comes to mind, as does Accurso’s. Succotash seems to have weathered its transition very nicely, mostly due to keeping the vibe of its dining room pretty laid back. Still, I’ll bet folks in the City Market were really sorry to see them go.
Lulu’s current location is one of the highest-profile commercial storefronts in the city. people unfamiliar with the Crossroads know where it is because they have driven by it so many times. Central street isn’t exactly that hopping so I hope they have a good visibility strategy in the works.
A brief Twitter exchange with Kansas City’s preeminent Russian blogger earlier today got me thinking about restaurants that expand or move to bigger and better locations. Meesha mentioned 39th street’s Rock-N-Moroccan Delicatessen, a take out shop which after less than a month in business, is planning on opening a full service location two doors down.
Perfectly good restaurants close in Kansas City every month, even on 39th street. Either the owner of Rock-N-Moroccan is a savvy business owner striking while the iron is hot, or he is dangerously overextending his operation.
This is why the restaurant business is so hard. You can be successful, make some money, invest in a new property and people will immediately start complaining that it’s not like the old property.
Photo by Mike Willis on Twitter
Of course, sometimes the new location sucks. Anyone who was a fan of the ambiance at the old Accurso’s probably doesn’t find too much comfort in the new surroundings which differ considerably. Likewise people talk about the old Stroud’s near 85th and Troost like it was a national treasure. Danny Edwards had one of the coolest little barbecue shacks around and opened a pretty modern, large restaurant in a completely different neighborhood.
Moving locations does not seem to have affected the aforementioned businesses too negatively. It might have something to do with the fact that they might have had little choice but to move.
Places like Succotash and Blanc seem to have calculated their relocations in an effort to get better spaces in more desirable neighborhoods. I like the new locations for these places just fine, but I’m personally a little disappointed that they moved. From a professional standpoint? I totally get it.