Food Service & Agriculture, Retail, and Small Business & Startups

Restaurant grants customers’ request

Slows Bar BQ offers full service dining after 4 p.m. on weekdays, all day on Saturdays and Sundays.

February 10, 2017
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Slows Bar BQ
Eleven full-service tables will be set up for Slows customers during certain times on weekdays and all weekend. Courtesy Slows Bar BQ

(As seen on WZZM TV 13) For Slows Bar BQ, the customer is always right.

The Downtown Market restaurant said it has converted half of its dining space to accommodate full service dining after several of its customers made the request.

Slows opened in the Downtown Market in August 2015 as a market style restaurant in the vein of barbeque joints found in Texas and Kansas.

That means customers order their meals at the counter in the exact portion sizes they want and then move along to the cashier to make their payment. Seating is available for diners who wish to eat their food in or they can take it to go.

Terry Perrone, co-owner and managing director for Slows, said the market style works great for most guests, especially lunch guests in a hurry, but patrons also want to have the option of sitting down and ordering from the menu.

He said the restaurant still will be market style during the day, but beginning at 4 p.m. on weekdays and all day on Saturdays and Sundays, it will offer full service dining, as well.

Perrone said 11 tables will be devoted to full service dining during these times as well as the bar seats, which already offered the full service experience. During the summer, patio seating also will be available for full service dining.

Perrone said the market-style model was a first for Slows, which also operates a full service location in Detroit’s Corktown neighborhood and a carryout and catering location in the city’s Midtown neighborhood.

“This was a slightly different concept in Grand Rapids,” he said.

Perrone said Slows is taking advantage of the slower time of year to rollout the change, because it gives the wait staff and kitchen a less pressured environment to adapt.

He noted the kitchen is configured for the market-style model.

Perrone said he thinks offering the full service dining option will impact the restaurant’s bottom line positively.

“Anytime you listen to your customers, you expect a return,” he noted.

He also said it fits with Slows’ efforts to increase evening traffic.

Slows has joined other Downtown Market vendors Aperitivo, Social Kitchen & Bar and Rocket Pies in creating $15 shareable menu options that are only available from 7 p.m. to close as part of a Market After Dark campaign.

The campaign is designed to lure diners to the market after the majority of its vendors have closed up shop for the day.

Perrone believes the full service dining option will be another draw.

Overall, Perrone said Slows’ experience in the Downtown Market has been great. The restaurant had a good first year and is headed in a positive direction in this second year.

“We love the Downtown Market,” he said. “It’s an amazing facility.”

He said the biggest challenge for the restaurant has just been letting people know Slows is in Grand Rapids.

Despite a strong media push when Slows first announced its arrival in town, Perrone said there still are quite a few people unaware of its presence in the city.

“We need to do more work to get the word out that we are here and letting people know what we do,” he said.

Slows also is focused on increasing its catering business.

Perrone said Slows’ catering operation in the Detroit area is thriving, with up to 70 employees in the summer. He’d like to see the west side of the state follow suit.

But he said dining makes up the “lion’s share” of the business, and he expects that to continue.

Slows will be adding a fourth location soon — in Pontiac at the renovated Strand Theater.

As far as its home in the Downtown Market, Slows has several years left on its lease, and Perrone said the restaurant expects to remain an anchor tenant into the future. 

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