Eatery’s twin owners offer birthday discount
When the wholesale cost of chicken went down, The Rotisserie Grill's owners had a choice to make — either keep the extra revenue margin for themselves or pass on the saving to customers.
Co-owners Walter and Wilmont Simmons decided to pass on the saving, even though the business has found the past few years challenging due to the economic downturn.
Walter Simmons explained that looking after loyal, regular customers was an overarching priority for the business.
“We have managed to survive because we have a solid following of locals,” he said.
As the economy has tightened and costs have risen, the family-style restaurant has endeavoured to do what it can to lessen the impact for customers, even if it meant trimming back its own operating margins.
“The last three years we have taken less profit in order to keep our prices down. It has been all about surviving,” said Mr Simmons.
When the restaurant secured a better deal on wholesale chickens it dropped the price by $1.25. And while the wholesale cost has since edged back up, the restaurant is selling its rotisserie chicken at a lower price than in previous years.
“We have very loyal customers and we know they are our core business. We wanted to give back to them,” he said.
Eight years after opening its doors, The Rotisserie Grill, on South Road, is celebrating tomorrow as twins Walter and Wilmont reach their 51st birthday.
While it has been a challenging time in recent years, the restaurant at Collectors Hill is starting to see an upturn in fortunes.
Mr Simmons said the grill has survived the tough times due to a combination of factors, including customer loyalty, providing good food and service, and competitive pricing.
Together with his wife Emma and his brother Wilmont, Mr Simmons ran Monty's restaurant on Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke, from 1998. It was later renamed Bouchee and was eventually sold to new owners in 2012.
The Rotisserie Grill opened in 2007 after the Simmons twins took over the premises vacated by Mr Chicken when it relocated to Queen Street in Hamilton.
“The first four years were very good, but when the economy went south we stopped seeing a lot of customers,” said Mr Simmons.
“Our customers tend to be regular folks, and they were just trying to survive. We have been feeling it [the downturn]. It is challenging with the business costs and the price of food going up.
“We have kept our prices down and taken less profit. We just wanted to survive.”
The majority of the grill's business is takeaway, however the restaurant has a seating area where customers can eat in. On one of the walls in the dining area is a quote by US celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, which reads: “We're not building a rocket ship here, we're cooking plain and simple.”
Noting the chef's words, Mr Simmons said: “That's what we're about.”
While rotisserie chicken might be the first thing people think of when they see the restaurant's name, there is much more on the menu, including grilled foods, steak, shrimp, fish, pork ribs and even vegetarian and vegan options. If customers call ahead, the restaurant can accommodate dietary needs, such as those with diabetes or who are lactose intolerant.
There is no deep fryer on the premises, so fries and chicken nuggets are not the menu.
Before opening the business in 2007, Mr Simmons spoke to residents to see what they thought of the idea of a rotisserie grill in the neighbourhood. The feedback was positive. Listening to customers is crucial, he said.
Mr Simmons believes having owner-operators at the restaurant, helping to prepare the food and run the day to day business, is another plus as it gives customers a sense of reassurance.
The business also has a catering side, and has handled large weddings and smaller social functions.
Customers who visit tomorrow and wish Walter and Wilmont a happy birthday will be rewarded with a 20 per cent discount. A birthday cake will also be shared with customers.
The restaurant is open from 11am until 10pm, except on Sundays when it opens at 7.30am and closes at 8pm.