The Red Pub.Com

By JASON GASKAMP
July 16, 2003

Noodle House Serves -Warm Perspective For Local Business

Located in a part of downtown not frequently traveled sits a small restaurant that has become well traveled. More on the outskirts of downtown, on the corner of Hutchins and St.Joseph, you will find Jenni's Noodle House. An independently owned and operated restaurant, with help from her husband Scott Weaver, Jenni's Noodle House does not fall into the bracket of being grandiose or extravagant by means of setting. Not like a Joe's Crab Shack or Olive Garden where image help sells the product. Instead, Jenni's serves a big portion of friendliness, relaxing atmosphere, and an authentic Vietnamese cuisine that has a fresh and enjoyable taste.

With the present economy, however, can such a small business survive without the support of big advertising and revenue that large restaurants have in their corner? According to a recent interview I had with Jenni about her perception on the current economic state, the answer seems to be yes. It only takes a few special qualities to make it through the rough times, and Jenni has learned those qualities firsthand.

This is not the first time Jenni has felt the impact of a downward and tough economy before. She was a flight attendant for the airline industry until the events of 9-11 forced her to take a temporary leave. Her next option was doing something she has actually always wanted to do, and in May of 2002 she opened Jenni's Noodle House, serving the type of food she grew up with.

Asked if owning a business is what she expected, Jenni replies that what she had planned in her mind did not pan out the same way in reality. No matter how hard you try, things will turn out different. But that is what has made her business strong as well. Jenni states that she spent the first few months just adapting to the responsibilities and demands that owning a business requires. Just as she adapted to losing her position with the airline industry, Jenni's flexibility in handling adverse situations is what keeps her afloat.

Besides citing the effects of 9-11 as a definite sign of an economic downturn, Jenni refers to other ways the economy has been affected, especially the local economy. She mentions the fall of Enron and layoffs at other large companies, like El Paso, as having implications on the smaller businesses. The direct impact on their business trickles down to ones like hers, having more of an indirect impact. She says there has been a visible decrease in her lunch crowd since the large gas companies have been affected.

Jenni also makes two separate distinctions that give her small business a disadvantage compared to owning a chain or franchise restaurant. One is name recognition. She remarks that she must work twice as hard to build up the reputation and awareness of her restaurant. It is understood that for larger restaurants, a renowned name is an asset in struggling against a lacking economy. The other factor of disadvantage is location. If located in a strip mall or shopping center for instance, says Jenni, she might receive more foot traffic. Clearly smaller, independent businesses must suffer a form of double discrimination during rough economic periods-one from the economy itself and the other from having the lack of resources a larger business can afford.

Jenni's Noodle House still does well, however, without these resources. Described as casual, the atmosphere is a friendly and pleasant place to dine. Many have already realized this. Weekly she has twenty to thirty patrons that dine three to five times. Evidently we are missing out on something.

 

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