Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Lack of differentiation dogs Fox and Hound

The Journal Gazette's Sherry Slater reports that the Fox and Hound Pub & Grille at Jefferson Pointe has closed its doors:

Less than two years after it opened, Fox and Hound Pub & Grille is closed. Monday was the Jefferson Pointe restaurant’s last day.

A local manager said “a lot of different factors” contributed to the decision, but she declined Monday to be more specific, referring official comment to her boss, who was out of town and didn’t return a phone message.

“It’s not that we don’t like Fort Wayne,” the local manager added.

I have to admit that I never went there, and I only went to its equally as doomed predecessor, the Red Star Tavern, once. It's not that I heard anything bad about either place--but I never heard anything good, either. Looking at this from a marketing perspective, there's one thing that unites Fox and Hound and Red Star: they weren't differentiated. They weren't a destination. They weren't a purple cow.

The lesson in all this? Today, it's not
enough to have decent location, good food, and an O.K. atmosphere. There are too many great locations, with phenomenal food, and an atmosphere you can't wait to share with your friends.

So, Fox and Hound, it's not that we didn't like you, either. But it's almost as if you didn't exist.

5 comments:

ScLoHo (Scott Howard) said...

Ah, finally another local professional in the advertising world that blogs and makes sense!

I've added you to my regular reading list.

Rachel said...

This is a real-life version of John Moore's blog series at Brand Autopsy of "Would You Miss?" The latest brand: Cheesecake Factory.

Apparently Fox & Hound isn't a place much of Fort Wayne will be missing.

Beth said...

Anthony, I'm not sure your Purple Cow analogy is all that apt. There are lots (and I mean LOTS) of mediocre dining establishments that are able to survive in Fort Wayne. I'm amazed when any restaurant goes under here -- we're not a very discerning group of people. I think that perhaps the common problem with Red Star and Fox & Hound was location, and that they were both marketed as taverns. That section of JP is sort of buried in the middle of the mall and isn't readily seen from parking areas. One would think that a location across from Rave would be a plus, but I'm guessing that only a family-friendly restaurant would do well there.

Anthony Juliano said...

Beth:

Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for your comment. I think you bring up a good point about location--it certainly didn't help Fox and Hound or Red Star. But I don't think it was by any means the biggest issue.

Fort Wayne has some great examples of purple cow restaurants that do very well despite a less-than-stellar location. The best example, I think, is J.K. O'Donnell's. Zero parking. A downtown location that's inconvenient to their best prospective customers. And yet they're doing extremely well because they offer something that you just can't find anywhere else. Another example is the Italian Connection. Parking is almost non-existent, it's a little hard to find and about the size of a shoebox, but it's survived because it's a destination.

I agree that you can get by with mediocrity if you have other things going for you. But if you're truly differentiated, people will go out of their way to find you.

garwoodjamie said...

Did someone die at that establishment? It's really cursed. The Red Star abruptly left in the dark of night (literally). Jefferson Pointe should call a spiritual healer.

I'm no business genius, but someone should tell them they need a place next to the Rave that teenagers will eat at. They go to a movie and wander around at the food court and book store before mommy or daddy picks them up.

Lesson in knowing your market and location.