Johnny’s Bringing Business Back to Secondary and Tertiary Markets

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Though secondary and tertiary markets are wonderful places in which to live, work and raise a family, they don’t always have the full panoply of dining options seen in their big town brethren. Conventional thinking states it’s because there aren’t enough people to service more upscale dining options.

But that’s simply not true. That’s why Chambers of Commerce throughout the country are increasingly seeking to bring more upscale restaurants to their markets. It’s because they realize there is lots of untapped potential for these restaurants to thrive, becoming a serious community economic driver.

Take Olathe, KS, a Kansas City suburb with a population of 135,000. Here Tim McKee, IOM, and CEO of the Olathe Chamber of Commerce, says that since Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse opened within its borders, the upscale dining concept filled a niche the town was very much missing. And it’s keeping business in the community, which means a better tax base for all Olathe’s citizens.

“They play an important role in our community and are meeting a niche that we definitely needed,” says McKee. “They provide a quality upscale restaurant experience we didn’t have, and Johnny’s has become a great addition to the city.”

The first Johnny’s was opened in Des Moines in 2002 by Heart of America Group, an established restaurant and hotel company that has multiple dining concepts such as The Machine Shed, Thunder Bay and Gramma’s Kitchen.

Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse was developed to create an upscale, yet affordable dining experience reminiscent of the classic 1940s and 1950s supper clubs, with a menu featuring delicious steaks, seafood and Italian cuisine.

In Olathe, and other secondary and tertiary markets, upscale restaurant revenue, and subsequent tax money, left the community. Those seeking a more upscale dining experience were forced to drive to neighboring areas. Not any longer.

McKee says since Johnny’s opened in Olathe, it’s become a central hub for meetings, as well as social engagements. Plus, he says it’s priced reasonably too. “You are not breaking the bank, and Johnny’s has an upscale and intimate atmosphere. You can have that intimate conversation. We hold a lot of meetings there, as do other community business leaders. It’s a great place to bring a client.”

In Eau Claire, WI, Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse has been scooping up awards and transforming the market simultaneously. The restaurant won four prestigious local awards from Volume One’s Best of the Chippewa Valley reader poll. Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse was awarded first place as “Best Upscale Restaurant in Eau Claire”, second place as “Best Eau Claire Restaurant”, third place as “Most Inspired Restaurant Atmosphere” and third place for “Best Steak”.

“We are very proud of Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse brand gives our staff a tremendous platform to exceed our guests’ high expectations and therefore meet our financial objectives for this project,” says Tom Larson, President of Larson Management. Larson Companies is a multi-disciplined, performance driven organization operating

throughout the Upper Midwest focused on commercial real estate development, hospitality management and more.

In Eau Claire, Johnny’s is located within the town’s full service Holiday Inn, which just received the IHG® (InterContinental Hotels Group) Torchbearer Award, the highest honor for quality and service, at the 2016 IHG Americas Investors and Leadership Conference. Johnny’s was an integral factor into winning this award.

Another benefit, while Johnny’s has multiple units that helps set the stage for strong customer satisfaction and smoother operations, it doesn’t have that chain outlet feeling. Most customers think it’s one of a kind.

But more important, it’s a way for smart developers to unify growing secondary and tertiary markets around a new central gathering place.

“We started out thinking Johnny’s would pull business from other neighborhood restaurants; it did just the opposite. Also, it forced everyone else to up their game, and attracted business we were losing to the nearby town of Overland Park, KS. Johnny’s gave our businesses and residents options we didn’t have before now, and business is coming back to us,” says McKee. “I’d recommend any city that considers it, small or big, to move ahead with a Johnny’s. It fits in anywhere in the country, either out here or in a major urban downtown setting.