Archive for Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Restaurant rivalry

When are there too many?

August 28, 2002

It's just a matter of days before Baldwin's newest restaurant, McDonald's, is open for business.

But what effect will the new fast food hamburger business have on other Baldwin restaurants when it opens?

Paul Mayse thinks it's not going to be good.

"For the number of people in this town, we've got a lot of restaurants," Mayse, owner of Mr. Goodcents, said. "When it opens, things are going to be harder. It's going to be an interesting next few months."

McDonald's is just the latest in a number of restaurants that have come to Baldwin during the past few years, many of which are located along U.S. Highway 56.

Mayse, who opened Mr. Goodcents in Baldwin at the beginning of this year, said the opening of another restaurant would take away other eating establishments' customers.

"The number of people in town can't support the number of restaurants here," he said.

City Administrator Larry Paine said the city does not attempt to bring restaurants into Baldwin.

"We're not doing the recruiting of restaurants," he said. "They come and see if it's Baldwin's a viable market and then they are making the choice to enter that market."

Donnie Devers, Pizza Hut store manager, said he thinks McDonald's decision to open in Baldwin could affect the number of employees available to work at each eatery.

"Now with McDonald's opening, it's kind of rough," Devers said. "Hiring can already be a problem. It could get harder with so many restaurants."

Michael Naumann, owner of Sonic, said he has also had problems hiring employees in the past, but he's not sure the number of restaurants is the problem.

"Finding good quality kids is the problem," Naumann said. "It seems like kids don't want to work nowadays."

Paine said he thinks that could be the problem some Baldwin restaurants are facing.

"I think the real problem some folks are having is less than qualified people running their businesses," Paine said.

Naumann, Mayse and Devers all agree that Baker University helps keep Baldwin's restaurants in business.

"Being in a college town definitely helps a lot," Devers said. "You can tell. When the Baker kids leave, it slows down a lot."

Paine said he believes Baldwin can support the number of restaurants it has now, but is not sure whether future restaurants could survive.

"I just don't know the answers to that," he said.

Mayse said he's sure some restaurants will suffer, and possibly have to close, with the opening of McDonald's and future eating establishments.

"What do you gain when you have two shut down because one opens up?" he said. "What has the town accomplished?"

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