As a consumer who dines out about 65% of the time I often wonder why it is virtually impossible to get a geographically specific delicacy in areas outside of their place of origin. Sure you can order them but you rarely get the ‘Real McCoy’. For instance, there are restaurants all over the country, and world for that matter, that offer, ‘Real Texas Barbeque’. Most of the time it is not, now perhaps that only matters to the people who intimately know what real Texas barbeque is, but it seems that putting a recognizable name on something ought to mean that there is some sense of accountability. Not that it’s bad it’s just not the same. There are styles of barbeque from all around the world and each restaurant can and should try to create their own identity within the barbeque realm. So why put a tag on it?
After all you are not able to pitch, ‘Real Peter Luger steaks’ unless you are one of the two Peter Luger locations, and by the way their lamb chops are fantastic too. So is it safe to assume then that when a restaurant promotes, real authentic (anything) that it will likely be anything but the real deal. Well let’s look at a few other examples.
- Real Philly Cheesesteaks do not have green peppers on them.
- New York Pizza is essentially non-existent outside the tri-state area.
- Chicago is famous for deep-dish pizza, hot dogs and Italian beef all of which are rarely matched.
- Gumbo, Beignets and Po-boy’s are always better in Louisiana.
- Did you ever have clam chowder in New England?
- Or Snapper Soup in Pennsylvania? Both are delicious while your there but not so much when you order it outside of their ‘home towns’.
- And this list can on and on
Is there an exception to the rule? There is always an exception and in this case the most obvious exception is, ‘Buffalo Wings’. We’ve all had great Buffalo Wings in locations other than Buffalo.
So back to the question at hand, “Why put a tag on it”? Well the answer is, in part, that most times when a person orders a geographic specialty, when they are not in the specific geographic area, it is likely that they do not have a reference point, or barometer. In other words, they probably have not had the real deal before so how do they know if it is genuine. So if a restaurant can participate in a niche that exist, if not only by folklore or legend, and it gets people through the door, then putting a tag on it works, at least from a marketing stand point. Getting the patron to return to the restaurant is another story.
How does this mindset apply to other industries is another consideration. Due to the fact that putting a regional brand on certain types of cuisine has been successful in the restaurant industry, Kentucky Fried Chicken proved that in spades. Other industries have adopted a similar type of marketing model to gain market share throughout the country and that raises another question, is there a hard and fast rule that can be applied to whether you should do business with a local provider versus a national provider?
The answer is again very simple; no there is not a definitive rule that can be applied, it simply comes down to common sense. For things that are innocuous or of little importance relatively speaking than go with the spirit that moves you, but for things that are important and that can impact your life then go with a company that can be accountable to you, because they operate in your community.
In other words, if you are looking for insurance go with a company within your community like Dagley Insurance & Financial Services in Katy, Texas. You can’t get a good bagel there but as far as a great insurance product with quality service, they have you covered. A recognizable name, personal service and accountability, you can’t get that from a company that is only, ‘Local’ in its marketing effort.
What other city specific foods do you know that are famous? Put them in the comments and I promise to try them all.