Hopes are high that Stanford on Main’s latest endeavor will prove successful for downtown Bartow. In a recently-issued news release, owners Tony and Becky Grainger have announced that beginning this Sunday, Jan. 6, the restaurant will now be open on Sundays, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., making it a seven-day operation.
The decision to open on Sundays for breakfast and lunch came about through a combination of careful deliberations and one other factor.
“We have had so many requests from people to open (on Sundays),” said Becky Grainger, who cited one group in particular. “I’ve had several ministers ask me to be open on Sunday.” Those ministers, she added, are Stanford on Main regulars.
Grainger said that while in her opinion it would be inappropriate for any of them to make an announcement from the pulpit that the restaurant will be open for business on Sundays, she hoped that on a personal basis pastors would share with parishioners their experiences of having dined at the restaurant.
Initial response to the news release, which went out over the Internet, has already produced numerous responses, all of them favorable, said Grainger.
Response also has been favorable among the various organizations and agencies that promote Bartow businesses.
“I think it’s great to bring folks downtown,” said Andy Laurent upon first being informed; Laurent, along Brian Hinton, are the co-executive directors of the Bartow CRA (Community Redevelopment Authority).
Also excited about the restaurant being open Sundays for breakfast and lunch was Virginia Condello, Director of Communications for the Greater Bartow Chamber of Commerce.
“That’s a very positive thing,” Condello said. “The Graingers are well-known for their high quality cuisine, it’s a cut above the rest.”
Mikel Dorminy, executive director of Main Street Bartow, also weighed in with a sentiment similar to that of Becky Grainger, that of getting churchgoers to patronize Stanford on Main following church service.
“I think it’ll be great,” said Dorminy.
Can it succeed?
It will not be the first time a downtown restaurant tried to make a go of being open on Sundays. In Bartow, opening on Sunday has proved problematic. For nearly a year-and-a-half, until June 2012, Hacienda Restaurant opened on Sunday.
“It was not working,” said Maria Ochoa, who with her husband, George, own the Mexican restaurant. Part of what she believed made it a struggle was force of habit. “People already knew where they wanted to go eat after church.” Their restaurant was not one of those places. At the same time, she did not believe the fact theirs was Mexican cuisine had any bearing as they opened at 11 a.m., and emphasized lunch, not breakfast, although there were breakfast items on the menu.
Staying open on Sunday, Ochoa said, proved to be unprofitable.
“Sometimes it was more expensive for us to open on Sunday,” she said. “We had to pay employees, and we often didn’t even meet cost.” However, what prompted the Ochoas to close on Sunday was time.
“It was taking away from our family,” she said. She added she wished the best for the Graingers. “I really hope they do really well.”
Even Becky Grainger herself expressed concern whether the venture will succeed.
“We’ll give it a month or two,” she said. Although many people had urged the restaurant be open, Grainger added, “The proof will be in the pudding.”
Concerns were also voiced on the parts of Laurent, Condello and Dorminy.
“Sundays are a pretty rough market,” said Dorminy. “The key is getting people to come in.” She added her belief there was a need for a restaurant to be open on Sunday, and that it was sad it had not been an option of recent note.
“You have to hope it will pull folks in,” said Laurent.
The key to doing that, contended Condello, is publicizing it.
“The big thing is getting the word out,” contended Condello. For its part, the Chamber would be contacting all its members and urging them to patronize the restaurant on Sundays. Condello ended her comments on a qualified upbeat. “With the economy the way it is, it takes courage. My hat’s off to them.”
Want to go?
Stanford on Main is located at 135 E. Main St., Hours of operation are 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-3 p.m., Saturday and Sunday. All major credit cards accepted. Call 863-226-3220.