518 West Italian Cafe to close it’s doors- Our thoughts
Posted on April 1st, 2015 by Enovana Green Cleaning
518 West, named for its location on Jones Street in what’s now a very fashionable area of “inside the Beltline” Raleigh, is a landmark Italian Restaurant that’s slated to close this month one year shy of its 20th birthday.
On the occasion of its closing, we’re not even bittersweet, but quite sad here at Triangle Green Cleaning. 518 West isn’t just a place where we’ve enjoyed eating through the years; in fact our business was practically born there. A business is all about people, their ideas, and how they execute them, and the people of Triangle Green Cleaning and our ideas—and how we know how to execute them, came from this iconic restaurant.
I spent my formative years in business as a pizza chef and manager at 518, and it was there that I met the people who would become the leadership foundation of TGC: Derek Owen, Shea Ruffin, and Brenda Stewart. The four of us combined—if I’m doing the math correctly—spent more than 25 years learning the fundamentals of small business from the fine people at Chapel Hill Restaurant Group (the owners of 518 West), principles like financial management, marketing and advertising, customer service, operations, human resources, and so much more.
All of us feel an affection for 518 because of the great friendship and memories we forged. TGC Office Manager, Brenda Stewart said “Going back to 518 is like going back to your home town. You know you are going to see someone that you know and it always brings back good memories”
It’s the little things that really make these people at Chapel Hill Restaurant Group so great, as evidenced by their decades of success with places like 518, RTP’s Page Road Grill and Mez, and of course, Chapel Hill’s 411 West, Squid’s, and Spanky’s. Let me give you one awesome example that has had a profound influence on the way that we run Triangle Green Cleaning.
Several years ago, at the very depths of the recession, I popped into 518 West for lunch, and I was thrilled to see one of the owners, Pete Dorrance. I had always looked up to Pete, a man of great integrity and committed to sound business principles. That day, the restaurant only had a few people dining there, far from peak capacity, reflective of the penny-pinching times. Pete, however, was overseeing some really nice renovations to the space, upgrading some of the seating and tables to capture an even better customer experience in this fabled old building, a converted train station from the 1800s.
I asked Pete why they were spending money on the restaurant during tough times, as I myself was feeling the heat here at TGC (some of my customers were understandably cutting back on their services due to layoffs or losing their own businesses). Pete, in his wisdom, told me that there was no time like downtime to reinvest in your business. It was at precisely that point, he shared, that you have the time and wherewithal to get things right and in an even better position to serve your customers, preparing your products and services for a better tomorrow.
I took this little nugget with me, and sure enough, I learned that in business you never see nothing but peaks. And I’ve had some downturns where I was able to take advantage of Pete’s advice and reinvest in my business to make it better for my customers. When I did, every single time, more of them came back.
Thank you, Pete Dorrance, and thanks to everyone at 518 West for teaching us at Triangle Green Cleaning so many lessons for business and life. This is a truly sad week for us as we see you move on—many of us have remarked that it’s almost like watching your old high school close! We’ll stop by to celebrate you at least one more time before you close and have at least one more pizza, and maybe a calzone or two!
Media Contact for Triangle Green Cleaning:
Joe McCutcheon, Owner