A few years ago, when a small restaurant owner in New York decided to open a second restaurant on a highway, she couldn’t have imagined that she would be the first to open an online restaurant and win a major award.
And it’s not just because of the fact that her website is a popular destination for the city’s dining industry.
It’s also because of her restaurant’s humble origins.
The restaurant, located at a busy intersection in New Jersey, was founded in the spring of 2013 by the daughter of a retired New York police sergeant.
“We thought, ‘What if we could create something that would be a little bit more accessible and just a little more authentic and that would have a little bigger impact on people’s lives?'” said Jessica Smith, who is now the owner.
“It’s not an easy decision for me to make, but I think I had to make it.”
A handful of friends were able to sign on, and the family decided to build the restaurant from scratch in order to bring in customers from all over the country.
Smith said the first day that they opened, she didn’t think her restaurant would make it far.
“There was a lot of negativity about the restaurant,” she said.
“And the people who had reservations were really angry about it, and they were calling it a scam, and people were like, ‘Oh, you guys don’t know what you’re doing,'” she recalled.
But she found a way to make the experience of opening a restaurant memorable.
After all, she said, it was the first time that she had a real connection with people who were willing to spend a few hours on a Friday afternoon.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt more connected to a customer,” she explained.
It was a little scary at first, because I didn [know] what to think. “
That’s something that I’ve learned from working in restaurants.
“If they’re not, they’ll want to get out and go somewhere else. “
But I’ve come to believe that if you have something that is meaningful and that’s a way for people to connect, that people will want to be there,” she continued.
They want to have that connection and be part of that. “
People come to restaurants to get something, but the people that come there are really passionate about the food.
With the support of the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, the Smiths launched the restaurant in May of this year. “
You can be the waiter, but you have to make that connection.”
With the support of the New Jersey Department of Transportation and the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, the Smiths launched the restaurant in May of this year.
“The response has been phenomenal,” Jessica said.
It has helped them get a bit closer to fulfilling their vision of bringing people together and making the city more appealing to families, as well as opening up a new source of revenue for the family.
“They’ve been able to pay for it out of pocket,” she noted.
The family said they’ve had to turn away a few people in the past, but it’s still a great way to connect with a whole new audience.
“Now we have people who come from all across the country, from all different walks of life, and we’re getting to know them really well,” Jessica explained.