The Perkins Family Restaurant on East Main Street has survived fires and recessions but closed its doors for the final time this week because of increasing competition and changing demands from customers, its owner said Tuesday.
The restaurant, 2531 E. Main St., had been in business since 1965 but could not keep up with its competition, said owner Rudy Mosketti. The restaurant’s 18 employees were informed of the decision Saturday afternoon, and Mosketti said where possible he is trying to find work for them at his other restaurants. Employees will also receive severance pay.
Mosketti also owns a Perkins restaurant at 2200 N. Limestone St., as well as Rudy’s Smokehouse restaurants at 2222 S. Limestone St. and 1920 N. Bechtle Ave.
He said the East Main Street Perkins provided good food and service, but it faced increasing competition from other area restaurants that provided faster, cheaper products. Many residents are still struggling financially, Mosketti said, and there is not enough disposable income to support all the restaurants in the city.
“It’s going faster and cheaper,” Mosketti said. “It’s a dollar game. We can’t serve food fresh for a dollar.”
In decades past, a family restaurant meant alcohol was not served and there were no televisions, Mosketti said. However, attitudes have changed, and families now feel more comfortable with those amenities. In many cases, it’s now something customers expect. He said he was not willing to compromise on service or the quality of the food at the East Main Street location.
“We just became a dinosaur on the street,” Mosketti said.
The food service industry plays a significant role in the state’s economy. According to figures provided by the Ohio Restaurant Association, Ohio has more than 21,300 restaurants and about 10 percent of the state’s employees are in the restaurant and food service business.
Closing the restaurant will allow Mosketti to focus more on the Perkins location on North Limestone, where he said there is less competition from fast food. Employees there will be placing a sharper emphasis on customer service, he said.
“We have to be extraordinary,” Mosketti said. “We can’t be ordinary, period.”
One of the challenges, he said, is that restaurants need to be able to adapt quickly to changing demands from customers. That can mean anything from changes in prices or the menu to how customers want to order and be served.
While it’s difficult for Perkins to adapt as quickly, Mosketti said his Rudy’s barbecue restaurants are able to pivot quickly to meet changing demands. He believes there is room for regional growth for the Rudy’s restaurants.
“I think Rudy’s is set to change on a dime,” Mosketti said.
He noted Bill Fischer, who serves as director of catering for Rudy’s, is working to gain enough equity to become the first franchise owner of that restaurant.
The Perkins location on East Main Street is already on the market, and Mosketti said he is willing to listen to offers from prospective buyers. About $100,000 was invested in the location in 2008 as part of a remodeling process. However, if no suitable offers surface, Mosketti said he would consider other uses for the site.