It was disheartening to hear this week that Lady Bug Family Restaurant in Laurinburg has shut its doors.
The closing of any small business in Scotland County is bad news for the owner, employees and our community.
That said, we were a little taken aback when Lady Bug owner Donnell Lindsay appeared to be blaming his lack of customers on customers.
“I felt like we had the best prices and the best food, but we just couldn’t get local support,” Lindsay told The Exchange. “People just didn’t have any money in Laurinburg. Many people looked like they just left from the unemployment office.”
Then for good measure, Lindsay threw race into the mix. Lindsay, who is black, said he expected more blacks to frequent his establishment. “But most of my customers were white,” he said.
If you find Lindsay’s logic about what went wrong with his restaurant, a bit hard to swallow, so do we.
There could be a dozen reasons why Lady Bug tanked that have nothing to do with the economy or the race of patrons.
Even in the best of times, restaurants struggle. Great food and low prices play a part in a business’ success, but so do good management and outstanding customer service.
A study by the Ohio State University’s Hospitality Management program found that one in four restaurants close or change ownership within their first year of business. Lady Bug had just reached its 11-month mark.
Location may have also been a factor. The belief that the three most important words in real estate — location, location, location — often apply to the restaurant industry too. That Lady Bug was housed in building that was once home to Mac’s Breakfast Anytime and before that Western Sizzlin and Quincy’s, may be an indication that the spot is not conducive to a family restaurant.
There are certainly other local dining options that are doing well. A number of places along the same strip of Main Street — that was home to Lady Bug — often attract long lines of customers inside and out.
That is why Lindsay’s frustration is understandable. His original Lady Bug restaurant in Wadesboro is thriving. Why he failed to repeat the success of that business in Laurinburg is hard to say. But the suggestion that the restaurant failed because it had to pull from a customer base of poor people is not the answer. It is just distasteful.