Jul 08, 2011

Analog Example of Successfully Pivoting Your Business

Josh Williams's picture
Josh Williams
Director, Product Strategy

This is from a story my buddy wrote about a restaurant that recently opened up in Healdsburg. You’ve probably heard of Cyrus, the two-star Michelin culinary adventure, complete with a roaming caviar cart. I know people who make regular pilgrimages to Healdsburg JUST to eat at Cyrus.

Douglas Keane, the owner of Cyrus, decided to open a new high-end steakhouse downtown, thinking that the glow from Cyrus along with the appreciation for finer things would carry over. Turns out he was wrong. Instead of flocking to the new joint, called Shimo, locals virtually boycotted him simply on principal; Healdsburg already has plenty of expensive five-star places to eat (cuts of steak at Shimo could run $195 a plate). What locals wanted was something tasty, new, and affordable. It looked like Shimo was heading for a cliff, but instead the owner pivoted his business and it seems like he’s now headed for a big success.

“Sometimes, you learn more from the jerks than you do from the good people. Good people, like my friends, were afraid to tell me it was too expensive. When I finally asked them why they weren’t coming in, they said they loved the meat when it was free at the soft opening, but couldn’t afford to come back. This was my Eureka moment, when I really started listening to the community.”

Knowing he couldn’t succeed without strong local support, he shifted gears and made sweeping changes. Changes that instantly made Shimo more affordable and consequently, popular.

The first big step was the noodle bar. For just $7.95, you can get a bowl of ramen or soba noodles with a few simple veggies, and your choice of four broths. Or, for a few extra bucks, you can build your own soup with add-ons like asparagus, slow-cooked egg, and prime rib tonkatsu.

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