Did Buddy V’s Ristorante have enough foot traffic?

Sad news today: Buddy V’s closed unexpectedly in San Antonio’s highly desirable ‘The Shops of La Cantera’ area. Many people wondered how this great restaurant opened in late January 2018 with substantial foot traffic, only to close March 2019. Fourteen months in business isn’t very long! According to businessinsider.com -a frequently cited study by Ohio State University examined failed restaurants. They found that 60% do not make it past the first year, and 80% go under in five years. We know that many factors affect restaurant success or failure – too many to explore in one article. But we are going to take a closer look at some factors. Below, we will look at the foot traffic to Buddy V’s and compare it to a nearby Italian restaurant — Zio’s Italian Kitchen.

Jan 2018 – Feb 2019 visitors

Buddy V’s is a personality-driven restaurant built around the famous chef from TLC’s ‘Cake Boss.’ Buddy V’s opened to over 1500 customers a week and the following month doubled to over 3000 customers a week. We were not a part of the marketing of either company, so we aren’t sure what marketing efforts were running during this time. Was the initial rush the usual ‘pop and buzz’ of a new restaurant or was there a sizeable initial marketing push? Zio’s Italian Kitchen is a chain restaurant priced at $10-$20 dinner plates, and Buddy V’s priced their entrees at $20-$40 for dinner plates. We picked Zio’s Italian Kitchen as a comparison to show how there are finite diners for ‘dining out Italian food’ in any particular geography.

It’s is interesting to note, that the same timeframe saw Zio’s Italian Kitchen log lower foot traffic at precisely the time that Buddy V’s was so high. This disparity often happens when similar restaurants share the same customer base. Restaurants seem to play a zero-sum game: as one location loses tickets and tables, another restaurant absorbs the traffic. At the start of 2019, both restaurants almost matched foot traffic perfectly week by week. As the final weeks ticked off the clock for Buddy V’s shop, there was a definite uptick for Zio’s Italian Kitchen.

The next obvious question is ‘where were the customers coming from’ and ‘how far were they driving’?

Travel Patterns

above: I wondered if the client location played into Buddy V‘s foot traffic in a different way than Zio’s Italian Kitchen

The data shows that Buddy V’s had a more significant initial pull from the more massive north San Antonio area, represented by the ‘cool blue’ color lines deep into Timberwood Park area and Boerne. The additional graph shows that over 55% of Zio’s Italian Kitchen visitors live less than 10 miles away, making it more likely they will visit more often than just for special occasions such as birthdays and anniversaries. A general rule of thumb seems to be that close proximity to a location improves the frequency of visits — not a stunning revelation, but significant. If an establishment wishes to draw clientele across larger geography, they must be strategic in their marketing approach. We are creatures of habit, and we only pick from a handful of ‘go-to’ establishments.

In closing, Buddy V’s was a great 4/5 star Yelp review restaurant and had lots to offer the area. Great Yelp reviews alone are not enough to stay in front of your customer’s mind when they are choosing where to eat. You need a plan that will highlight your restaurant brand’s unique offering and broadcast those individual factors in a compelling photo/video content mix for social media paid advertisements. You will have to draw them with more than your fantastic alfredo sauce!

The big SO WHAT? Marketing data can be used to counteract trends and address shortcomings, sure, but it should also inform the kind of messaging you build and where you point that communication. If you’d like to discuss the ways we can help, we are always up for a coffee conversation.

About Vitality Marketing Firm:

We build marketing & system automation to remove the manual and repetitive tasks. Businesses benefit from automation by freeing staff to work on things that no computer can solve. Marketing automation also allows our clients to communicate with their customers at a simple level without needed to involve a human until they are ready to buy.

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Author: Jason Pulliam

Jason Pulliam is an avid researcher of technology and marketing. He enjoys figuring out ways to automate tasks and increase the personalization of the customer’s online journey. When Jason isn‘t pushing all the buttons to see what they do, he’s a nutty husband to his wife, Jada, and proud father for his two daughters. Jason enjoys all cold things, in every sense of the word, and you might find him working inside a fridge if that were possible.