The restaurant business has changed since Seven Senses opened its doors a decade ago
Cookeville – When Seven Senses Food and Cheer (Seven Senses) Owner/Proprietor Jay Albrecht began his restaurant adventure 10 years ago, he had no idea what he was getting into. He was a marketing guy, after all, not a restaurant guy. He was scared, but knew he wanted to serve the community.
He just didn’t know exactly how to get there.
“I didn’t know what I didn’t know,” said Albrecht. “As I learned more, we got more successful.”
Ten years later, Seven Senses in Cookeville has become one of the most popular eateries in the Upper Cumberland, and Albrecht’s dream has become a reality, but to last a decade isn’t easy, especially in the restaurant biz. Albrecht says the key to lasting success is adapting to customers and rolling with the changing tides of an often-hostile business environment.
“The first couple of years were tough,” said Albrecht. “I felt like I knew enough people in town where it would be easy for people to come and want to do business with me. That’s just not the way it works. You have got to earn their business, earn trust and establish a product people want to put you on the map. It took a couple of years to get that done. Once we got it done, we got a great group of loyal customers that come in and we see new faces all the time. It’s just a really rewarding thing from that standpoint to know that we have made it and that we are serving our repeat customers and so many new people regularly.”
Cutting the ribbon – Jay Albrecht (center) prepares to cut the ribbon on a decade in service.
The restaurant business has changed since Seven Senses opened its doors a decade ago.
“It’s safe to say a lot has changed in the restaurant business over the past 10 years,” said Albrecht. “Take just the last couple of years. The price of goods has gone up 40% in some cases, and we have had to adapt some of the items we carry because of that and even some of our prices, unfortunately.”
Albrecht said the price of doing business has risen with increasing labor costs, but those things come in what he calls “cycles.”
“It’s been a very tough environment over the last couple of years to do business, but we have those cycles,” he said. “Throughout the last 10 years, we have seen cycles that we have to deal with. Some years have been very easy to do business, and some have been very difficult. You must juke and jive with the times and work with what the economy gives you and within your situation. We have found a way to do that effectively over the 10-year period that we have been open.”
Have you ever heard of the three-legged stool: price, service and quality? Those components are key to success in business.
“In the restaurant business you have got to figure out all three legs,” said Albrecht. “People expect to get a great quality product for a little amount of money and to get it served to them respectfully.”
Finding that balance was tough for Albrecht.
“Once we figured that out things got a lot easier, but it took a while to get that formula right,” he said.
Throughout everything, Albrecht has held tightly to what drives him most, a sense of community and the goal to provide that community with something new. Would he do it all over again?
“I would absolutely do it again,” he said. “Because it is a matter of serving the community. That is why I started in the first place and thankfully 10- years later, we still uphold that same Mantra and give back to our community.”
Standing outside his business as county officials, community and business leaders and loyal customers gathered along the sidewalk to celebrate the anniversary of his dream, Albrecht smiled.
“Doing business in a community that cares about and supports you,” he said, “makes all the difference in the world.”
Seven Senses is located at 32 West Broad Street in Cookeville and is open Tuesday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information visit sevensensesfood.com, call 931-520-0077 or email email@example.com.