SYRACUSE, N.Y (NCC News) – According to the Small Business Administration, about 80 percent of small businesses survive their first year of operation. The percentage of survivors dips as the years go on – only half of small businesses see five years of operation. For one local restaurateur, the statistics aren’t a concern.
The Preserve at 405, an “upscale tavern” located in Syracuse’s Inner Harbor area along Onondaga Lake, celebrated its one-year anniversary on Sept. 24. For Doug LaLone, the restaurant’s owner, the first year was full of positives.
“Restaurants are a tough business,” said LaLone. “But in our first year, the bills are paid, we have great clientele, we’ve been getting great reviews. Overall, we feel the first year was a real success.”
According to LaLone, The Preserve at 405 doesn’t do any outside advertising. The restaurant relies on word-of-mouth to keep the hungry patrons walking through the front door.
“Every time we do a party, we seem to gain people out of that party,” said LaLone. “That just makes our customer base grow.”
“We’ve been very fortunate and very blessed,” he added. “It’s grown on an amazing path this year, and we’re really happy with where we are right now.
The Preserve has a different look than buildings in its surrounding area. The restaurant sits among a variety of industrial plants and concrete buildings. LaLone said transitioning the building from an empty loading dock to the current eatery was quite the process.
“Basically, it was a concrete shell,” said LaLone. “It was broken down, dilapidated. We basically took it down to the ground, kept the same floor plan, and then just came up with a new design.”
LaLone, who also owns the Gem Diner in Syracuse, knows the value of community interaction in the restaurant business. The Gem Diner works with various charities, such as Challenger Baseball, as a way to give back to the Syracuse area. When it comes to The Preserve, LaLone always stays local.
“We only use local purveyors,” said LaLone. “We use Paul deLima coffee. We use a company called Mineo’s, which is a local company for our food distributorship. We use Geddes Bakery for all our breads and baked goods. So we only deal with people on a local level.”
As a way to further grow The Preserve’s brand, LaLone runs a shuttle for fans to and from Syracuse University men’s basketball and football games.
“The main idea was to get people down here from local businesses,” he said. “They’d call us up and say, ‘hey, we’ve got four people staying at the Aloft Hotel tonight, and could you bring them over to your place?’ It’s worked out very good on that angle.”
Why open a restaurant like The Preserve at 405 in an area like the Inner Harbor of Syracuse? LaLone said he can’t imagine having it anywhere else.
“I grew up in the ‘West End,’ we grew up right here,” said LaLone. “People didn’t used to want to come to the ‘West End.’ There was nothing down here. But now we’ve got the harbor, we’ve got the development, we’ve got the hotels, the shops, the restaurants. I just wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.”
LaLone isn’t done just yet. He said he hopes to open a steakhouse in the same area sometime soon.
“This is where I was raised,” he said. “This is where I want to continue to do business.”
The Preserve at 405 is open from 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.