January 9th, 2012, 11:12 am · · posted by KELLI SKYE FADROSKI, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
What fascinates me is trying to figure out why some restaurants operate for years before the public discovers them, while other restaurants have an hour-long wait for a table after only two months in business?
On a recent Friday night, Paul Martin’s American Grill had a 75-minute wait for dinner, and the new restaurant has been open since Nov. 14. I had to find out why.
The obvious answer – location, location, location – is only partially responsible.
The Irvine Spectrum is alive with bodies on a Friday night, and P.F Chang’s had a two-hour wait on the same night. With that many people walking by your front door, your business is naturally going to be impacted.
But that doesn’t fully explain the enthusiasm I found among the customers at Paul Martin’s. I conducted my own informal survey of those customers in an attempt to uncover the secret to the restaurant’s instant success.
In no particular order, here are the three most often-mentioned reasons that enticed people into the restaurant:
Reputation – Restaurant owners Brian Bennett and Paul Fleming own two other Paul Martin’s, one in Roseville and the other in El Segundo. As you might imagine, I didn’t find anyone who had been to the Roseville location, but several people said they were familiar with El Segundo through work assignments, and were anxious to turn their friends on to the new restaurant in Orange County.
Curiosity – Many people said they live in the immediate area, or regularly visit the Irvine Spectrum, and they literally watched Paul Martin’s being built. As construction progressed, their curiosity was piqued.
Experimentation – Irvine apparently is filled with serious foodies who want to try every new restaurant that opens. And the sooner they try it, the sooner they can brag to their friends that they’ve already been to Paul Martin’s.
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