Times are tough. So have fun.
Times are tough. Stick to tradition.
It seems the nation—and its restaurants—can go several different directions in this dark economy. Today we observed two of them in action.
Damon’s in Glendale, CA has been around since 1937. It’s seen its share of economic ups and downs, and weathered them all. By this time, it’s what owner Patrick Campbell calls, “Glendale community property.” People visit Damon’s for the comfort food of our era: a thick, juicy tenderloin. A petite filet, lightly crusted and served with a side of twice-baked potatoes. Eight-Layer Orange and Cream Cake.
Campbell says his guests come in for the familiar. It’s the steaks they grew up with, served in a comfortable, Tiki-themed environment. “During times like these,” he says, “you stick to quality and you stick with your people.” Steeped in tradition, Damon’s is an anchor.
An hour away in Orange County, the party is just starting at Tu Tu Tango, in what is known as “The Block.” Here is where people are immersing themselves in light-hearted fun—if not to forget the economy, at least to shove it momentarily aside.
“People have to work a lot harder these days,” says owner Paul Kraft. “It’s all about creating more value for your customers. Part of that is that you need to be able to unwind.”
So, at Tu Tu Tango they offer a place to perform for balloon artists, starving artists and belly dancers. They have happy hour twice a day. Their food includes Oriental Marinated Steak Skewers and Shrimp and Pesto Pizza. Fun food that is comforting in it’s own unique way.
Two different approaches, but each proprietor has put his employees and customers in, so to speak, the center of the plate. Damon’s gives back to the community through programs such as Glendale Healthy Kids. Tu Tu Tango works with the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. “It’s rewarding,” says Kraft. “It’s hard going in; it’s hard to leave.”
Stick to quality. Stick to your people.
They’ve each figured out how to provide—be it through tradition and comfort food, or eclectic and fun food—the type of experience that its patrons crave. One you might call “different;” the other, “ordinary.”
We think both are extraordinary.