Focusing on strategy
FOOTPRINTS Cafe Restaurant and Lounge said it has revamped its offerings and is going after a younger demography as part of its strategy to boost walk-in traffic at its 5 Belmont Road, St Andrew location.
The entity, which has been operating since 2019, has seen a dip in walk-in customers since reopening fully after the restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
“We are not at our pre-COVID levels in terms of walk-in traffic [as yet] because people are still not going out as much as they did before COVID,” Stephanie Lindsay, director at Footprints Cafe Restaurant and Lounge, told the Jamaica Observer. “I cater to the more mature demography. I am finding now that after COVID, people who cater to the younger generation are the one’s getting more customers, because unlike the older customers, the younger people are going out more,” she added.
To push the new strategy, Lindsay said her son, who is also a director at the company, is working on the strategy to get more young people into the business. The push started with the entity getting a facelift from J Wray & Nephew through its Campari brand and other attractions were added including photo areas, a live band performance every third Wednesday and additions to the menu.
“Two years of COVID was really a testing time in business especially this industry because we suffered the most with the ban on gathering,” she continued as she outlined some of the challenges she faces as a small business owner.
Still, those challenges are seen as obstacles to overcome in running the business for Lindsay. She told the Caribbean Business Report that operating a food business has always been her passion and Footprints Cafe Restaurant and Lounge is the third such business she has started.
“We were originally Nicole’s by the Waterfront,” she said about the current Footprints store. “Then we were in Portmore in Edgewater by the lake,” as she described Dawkins Pond, one of two inlets on the Kingston Harbour â€” the other being the more familiar known Hunt’s Bay.
“Nicole by the Waterfront started in 2015. It was set up to cater to a group of friends who wanted to have a good time but feel really safe. And we said, OK, ‘Let’s do something,’ and we came together to have a drink and some food and just have fun.”
But the business she said outgrew the location and that was when it was relocated to Kingston in 2019 and renamed Footprints Cafe Restaurant and Lounge.
“We named it Footprints because we wanted it to be a place that you can have a nice relaxing feel that will keep people coming back,” Lindsay said. At the current location, customers can rent a meeting room or do a wedding reception, or simply hang out “and have good food”.
Her other restaurant was a place called Scotch Bonnet in Spanish Town, St Catherine, which she said she abandoned due to violence. The hospitality business she said is in her blood, it will be the business she will be concentrating on when she retires.
“A lot of people are in business selling food, but you find that you get repeat patrons if you have good standards and we have that,” she boasts.
But while she has seen a dip in walk-in customers, growth has been seen in another area of the company, catering.
“We deliver to probably about 20 locations on a daily basis, but I have a main location at which we deliver over 2,000 lunches per day and they rely on us to get their staff fed. That’s a big part of what we do and we are looking for similar opportunities going forward.” That growth, she admits, will take additional capital, which she said she was in the bank recently to start conversations towards that end.
Just last week she said while in the bank, she had a chance encounter with NCB Financial Group Chairman Michael Lee-Chin, and outlined to him the needs of small businesses and the lack of adequate support from banks to help them grow. But she said she left with more with Lee-Chin outlining one of his now famous acronyms, this time, one called SEA.
“He said the S means strategy, and told me that I must have a strategy and that I must work on that strategy for growth. Then he said we need to execute, that’s what the E is for. He said there are two many well-written plans that never get past the planning stage, and the A is to advocate to ensure we are pushing the brand. I was there with my manager and right away we said we will push to execute our ideas to continue growing the business.
“Looking back, I am very happy with the strides that we have made since we started. Presently, we want to ramp up our visibility in the public space and we are at 5 Belmont Road. We want to welcome more footprints in this place. I think I have a team of persons who are aligned with the goals of having more people coming here to dine and enjoy a good time,” she concluded.