Local Restaurant Vet: Competition Downtown Drives the Experience

In talking to John Bragg recently about his decision to move his upscale, fine-dining, Circa concept to Regalia in East Memphis and transform its former South Main space into a more casual, neighborhood pub called Bar None, a few of his remarks about Downtown entertainment were too good to pass up.

He said that if had he had a crystal ball, he would have done the restaurants in the opposite order. However, since the changes, Circa has doubled its business and Bar None is doing as much or better in the old Circa spot.

But it’s what he said about friendly competition that came as an even bigger surprise to me. Truly a sign of a local businessman who gets it.

We all compete to some extent, but having a whole lot of different places, all of whom have something to offer, makes the whole experience of being Downtown for your entertainment better. We share the same customers. On one hand, we’re competing and I would hate it if we’re dead and they have a line out the door, that kind of thing can get on your nerves if you see that happening, but when I see that we’re both busy, I really like that. Every bar has to find its real specific way of relating to the customers and what they offer. Most people start at Flying Saucer and end up at Bardog and hit most of the places along the way. It’s a community thing. There’s always a little competition, but it’s friendly for the most part.”