In the past month or so, two chain restaurants in Cameron closed their doors: Bush’s Chicken and the Sonic (again). When businesses close, the fault usually rests with the management, not an elected official, no matter how much he promotes himself as a problem solver, as has been suggested on Rantbook. The management issues at both of these restaurants were obvious. My opinion: both closed because management failed to manage their personnel.
Both Bush’s and the Sonic have a reputation for good, fast food. Bush’s is my favorite chicken house by far, and I have a loving relationship with Sonic that goes back to the 1970s. My first job was at a Sonic, and my first entrepreneurial ambition was to own a Sonic. If I went out for chicken or burgers, it was to a Bush’s (since I discovered them a decade ago) or to Sonic (since I was 14). So, I was saddened to find both of these restaurants in Cameron were the worst, in my experience, of their respective chains. I mean, how many of you Cameronians ate at either one regularly?
The last four times I went to Bush’s, they were out of chicken. That happens occasionally with chicken places—but four times in a row? The staff was always friendly, new, and basically clueless. They seemed more interested in gossiping in the kitchen than taking care of business. The food was edible, but not up to Bush’s standards. The management failure here was in instilling a culture of customer service.
When I went to the Sonic, the service had improved dramatically since it closed and reopened. I had hope at first, but the quality of the kitchen remained well below Sonic standards even as the speed of delivery improved. Over the last year, I seldom got cold, stale food, but neither did I get food of the quality the Mayfield Dairy Queen down the street provides with a smile. Although service there was still slow and seemed to be reluctant—as if I were bothering them by wanting to eat something.
It’s no wonder the parking lot was often (and now permanently) empty. Sonic has even removed the signage, which did not happen the last time this location closed. Again, the management failure was in personnel.
In fact, the Department of Labor published a study showing more than 80% of jobs created by tax-incentivised businesses went to people who moved to the area to take the jobs, not to the people who were already there. The new businesses increased the tax base of their new communities, and those communities grew as a result of the economic infusions. But the people who already lived in those communities failed to reap the benefits and were sometimes pushed out to even fringier areas.
The solution of to this problem is neither within my area of control nor Judge Young’s. But it is within the collective control of the community. Rather than ranting about the closings, we should be asking what we can do to promote the success of the businesses we rely on. Little things—like buying a shirt from the Bling Box instead of Land’s End or buying chicken feed from Cameron Farm and Ranch instead of Tractor Supply or Chew.com—help build our community and keep jobs in Cameron. Rather than griping about a stagnant economy, let’s ask how our small decisions contribute to stagnation or growth. What can we do to make our jobs better? How can we do more to help local businesses, especially the ones we work for.
In the mean time, it’s time to ask a question I’ve asked before. What would you do to repurpose a closed Sonic?Hermann says please like and share!