The Rise and Fall of Restaurants in Statesboro

The owner of The SmoQue Pit in Statesboro shared his thoughts on maintaining a restaurant in a college town.

Gabrielle Dieterich

STATESBORO — As restaurants come and go from Statesboro, restaurant owners strategize to stay open.

Seni Alabi-Isama has ran three different restaurants here in Statesboro. His current restaurant, The SmoQue Pit, is a local barbeque joint on Main Street. It is harder to run a restaurant in a college town like Statesboro because there is more competition, according to Alabi-Isama.

Alabi-Isama is well aware that restaurants in Statesboro open and close rapidly. Because of this. Alabi-Isama knows what it takes to maintain a restaurant in a college town, lots of time, capital and a love for human resources.

“It’s tough to stand out from the crowd,” said Alabi-Isama. “You have such a high volume of restaurants compared to the population. You want to treat your guests like gold.” 

Dr. Greg Brock, an economics professor at Georgia Southern, said that several factors can determine whether a restaurant will be successful in a college town. In his professional opinion, having reasonable prices, a prime location, and a variety of options can lead to success. 

“A bad location would cause them to fail,” Brock said. “I have also seen restaurants that open where a prior restaurant was. I am always amazed that they would open there, in the exact same place, where location might be a problem, and they would try again.” 

Additionally, Brock discussed how the workload is underestimated and that the restaurant owners have to be smart during slower seasons, being that the students make up a large portion of the population.

Several crucial decisions must be made during the summer when students leave. Restaurants must decide whether they should close, create discounts or have shorter hours because the demand is significantly lower. 

There is more competition in a college town like Statesboro, which already enforces lower prices. However, many people live or visit Statesboro because of the University, creating a larger consumer amount that these restaurants need, according to Brock.

A new cafe called Southern Pony Cafe recently opened here in Statesboro. Currently, it is located on East Parrish Street, but the owner said she is planning on moving the cafe closer to GSU campus.

A new steak house,Bull and Barrel,will be opening on 30 West Mainstreet later this Fall. 

Gabrielle Dieterich, The George-Anne Contributor, [email protected]