October 19, 2017

Janice Provost – owner of Parigi in Dallas, TX

Janice Provost at Parigi

Janice Provost at Parigi

Janice Provost committed to continuing the legacy of Parigi – a Dallas, TX icon for 25 years – in 2001 and has succeeded in keeping the restaurant at the fore front of the city’s fine dining. This is no easy task given the diverse population of the Oak Lawn / Turtle Creek neighborhood that is home for some very discriminating palates, but Janice has been able to merge the founding philosophy of Parigi – fun, delicious food with an environment that makes everyone feel at home – with a drive to constantly update not only the menu, but the physical space to continually surprise and please her patrons.

In our interview, Janice shares some of her insights on how to run a long lasting organization and build the relationships that lead to success. Listen to the entire interview here (may take a few seconds to load)

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Audience

Parigi serving beautiful food

Parigi serving beautiful food

Parigi’s location on Oak Lawn between Cedar Springs and Lemmon guarantees a diverse clientele. This includes people that have been coming to the restaurant for 25 years and consider it a part of their family life. Also included are empty nesters, business professionals, the gay community, employees from places like The Design Center, and visitors staying at various, upscale hotels in the area. However, Parigi is also a destination restaurant that draws patrons from more distant areas of Dallas.

The one thing they all have in common is an interest in high quality and exciting food in an environment that feels like a extended family.

Promotions

Promotions is always a challenge, especially when combined with all of the other demands of restaurant ownership. Here is a quick checklist of Janice’s experience:

Parigi's menu board

Parigi's menu board

  • Print advertising – Parigi has experimented with print advertising, but doesn’t do it anymore, mostly because there is no way to determine how effective it is.
  • PR – when Parigi does appear in printed publications, it’s when an article is written about them. Helping fuel this – in addition to just having a great business – is Cause Marketing, such as participating in non-profit events and ongoing support for organizations like the Dallas Youth Village, which helps troubled youths learn social responsibility.
  • Parigi’s website – this provides a place on the web for comprehensive restaurant information and menus submitted to the web developer are generally updated within 24 hours to keep things current.
  • Local Search – (Zagat, CitySearch, Yelp, etc) Janice does Google Parigi to get an idea of what these sites say about the restaurant, but doesn’t actively manage a profile on any of these sites. She believes in the power of these sites and is interested in them, but it’s been a challenge to find the time that this management requires.
  • Email Campaigns. Parigi does use email, but is very sensitive to over saturation. Once a week is too much, they target a monthly newsletter that combines various information at once.
  • Blog – The Parigi blog gives an opportunity to express a more personal side, but time is something everyone has a shortage of. Janice is a big fan, but it does take a lot of effort.

Parigi's pation on Oak Lawn

Parigi's pation on Oak Lawn

Leverage

Word of mouth is “huge” when it comes to being successful and there are some ways Janice recommends fostering the process:

  • Be Awesome. Give a great experience and people will tell friends, but keep in mind – people will tell a friend about a great experience and 10 friends about a bad one.
  • Hotel concierges – Janice has some experience with this and thinks it can be very effective. While Parigi has a great relationship with some of the local hotels, such as The Melrose and The Mansion, there are steps that can be taken to improve these relationships:
    • Host special events for local concierges so they are more familiar with what you offer
    • Make sure they have menus and other promotional material
    • Thank them for sending patrons your way with a note or even a gift certificate
  • Social Networking. Parigi maintains a profile on Facebook that allows them to share information with “fans.” In fact, Janice believes that  telling friends and fans on Facebook that Parigi was nominated by WFAA for “Best New American Restaurant” helped them win the honor, showing how passionate patrons can be mobilized.
  • Twitter – she’s looked into using Twitter, but hasn’t decided on how to incorporate it into the promotional strategy.

Connect

Parigi’s current philosophy is that connecting to patrons happens when they are in the restaurant, so that experience needs to be amazing. This includes providing a great and comfortable environment, amazing food and stellar service. Janice would like to enhance this by connecting in ways that extend beyond the in-restaurant period, but when juggling all of the other facets of the business, time is limited.

Entice

Sample Parigi dishes

Sample Parigi dishes

Parigi entices clientele with:

  • The Food – the food obviously must be tremendous and Janice lives up to this demand. High quality food, a menu that changes weekly and willingness to explore different ideas (such as blending Italian, French, Indian and Asian influences in creative ways) keeps things new, exciting and delicious.
  • Ties to the Community. Janice believes in supporting the local community that supports her. This includes sourcing many ingredients locally, displaying the works of local artists and supporting various non-profit activities.
  • Longevity and quality of staff. The staff – referred to as Team Parigi – mostly consists of people that have been at the restaurant for over a year. This focus on employee relationships helps to insure smooth operations and is supported by treating the staff like family.
  • Personalized relationships. Part of the staff’s responsibility is to build relationships with their patrons. This includes knowing their faces, names, what they like to drink or even how they like their fish cooked. It’s all about creating “comfort in feeling like they’re home.”
  • Keep things Fresh. Every year, from July 3-10, Parigi closes and gets a make over to keep the environment “fresh.”

Inside Parigi

Inside Parigi

Simplify

There are a few things that help Parigi simplify operations:

  • POS System - Parigi uses Triangle POS which helps to identify what menu items are being successful, but is no replacement for listening to customers. The system itself is pretty good, although there have been some problems with customer service.
  • Reservation Management – Janice thinks that reservation systems like Open Table are great, but isn’t convinced that it’s flexible enough to handle the dynamics of Parigi where tables are constantly rearranged to accommodate patrons. Plus, the added hardware would make for a tight fit in the intimate space. She is sticking to the pencil and paper tables chart, although she would like to be able to capture patron information like birthdays and anniversaries – right now this is done through customer survey cards.
  • Great Accountant. A great accountant is indispensable and keeps things organized.
  • Great vendors. Parigi is lucky enough to have vendors that are responsive and have the same discerning taste as the owners. Vendors that you can trust save time by paying attention to your best interests for you.

Success

The ultimate measure of success is a packed house with happy patrons. Beyond that, Parigi doesn’t measure many metrics, although the call to action on Facebook for the WFAA competition does provide feedback on effort versus results. Janice also thinks that measuring things like web traffic can be valuable, but it is a question of having the time to focus on that information.

Words of Advice

Janice recommends running a small restaurant so you can focus on the patrons. Beyond that, be passionate, hire the right people, serve food you are proud of, and keep your patrons and employees happy.

Connect with Parigi’s and Janice Provost

Location (view map)
3311 Oak Lawn Ave # 102
Dallas, TX 75219-4200
(214) 521-0295

Website: http://www.parigirestaurant.com/
Blog: http://parigidallas.blogspot.com/
Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dallas-TX/Parigi-Restaurant/47213581430?ref=search
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/janice-provost/10/a36/434

Upcoming Events

September 25, 2009 @ 12:30 PM – Janice Provost will appear at Texas State Fair Celebrity Chef Demo

October 18, 2009 @ 12:30 – Chad Houser will appear at the Texas State Fair Celebrity Chef Demo

October 24, 2009 – Parigi offers extended sidewalk seating for the Oak Lawn Halloween Block Party. This is the restaurant’s biggest event of the year for what is described as the biggest Halloween party in the country, where patrons get to have table service and see some of the most outrageous costumes around. If you want a seat, be fore warned that people make reservations a year in advance.

Background

Janice and Chad - owners of Parigi

Janice and Chad - owners of Parigi

After receiving her Marketing and Merchandising degree from Stephen F. Austin State University, Janice Provost worked in sales for 12 years. Her love of cooking and entertaining led her to cooking classes at El Centro College in Dallas, which helped Janice get her foot in the door by working for free at a local restaurant. Eventually, she was noticed by Parigi’s Executive Chef – Melody Wolfertz - who gave Janice a once a week paying job doing prep work. From that point, she worked her way up the kitchen hierarchy until, after 9/11 when she bought the restaurant and partnered with Abraham Salum as the Executive Chef.

After 3 years, Abraham moved on to pursue other opportunities and Janice added Executive Chef to her role as owner. Last year, she added Chad Houser as a partner to help continue the growing restaurant and catering business – both sharing the same vision and passion for food.

Shout Out’s

Parigi on Urbanspoon You can also see this interview on UrbanSpoon.

Salah Ananse – DJ, producer and promoter

DJ Salah Ananse

DJ Salah Ananse

DJ Salah Ananse spins at venues around the world – from Brazil to London to Ethiopia to his home town of Atlanta. He is a DJ, producer and promoter and constantly faces the challenges of running organizations and getting butts in seats. I spent some time with him at Spice Market in the W Midtown and he shared his experience about how to be successful. For all of the details, listen to the full interview

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Promotion

Being both a DJ and promoter, Salah is constantly facing the challenge of how to deal with promotions – and has been successful through innovation. He has a diverse toolbox that includes:

Social Networking

Salah in Action

Salah in Action

“The most important thing about building your business through social networking is you want a targeted audience; you want someone that’s going to respond to what you’re giving out … unless it’s something targeted to my audience, I’m not really worried about it.”

There can be a lot of noise in social networking. When you consider Facebook’s blending of people poking you and asking you to join their mafia, the promotional message can get lost. These networks connect you to everything that is related to everyone you know and it can be difficult to focus attention on connecting to those that are interested in getting out of the house and showing up at your events. Salah breaks it down like this:

  • Myspace – He used to use MySpace, but has moved away from it.. it’s no longer that effective.
  • Facebook – Facebook is still a great way to promote. He lists his upcoming events, updates his status for more unique events, and has a group page. He recommends keeping the information fresh by including new photos, videos and and links to free music. However, his biggest complaint is that Facebook has a more passive audience. People check it occasionally and announcements can get lost in the noise of the friend feed. He’s been moving more and more to Twitter.
  • Twitter – this is where Salah sees the most opportunity. Twitter users are more likely to be monitoring their friend feed and he believes they are more active and more likely to be looking for things to do in the real world. The people that he follows and that follow him are “in a community that feeds off of each other.”

Other Technologies

DJ Salah Ananse

DJ Salah Ananse

Beyond social networking, Salah uses a number of other technologies, creating a diverse blend of connection points to his audience.

  • SMS – sending text messages should be limited to more intimate messages versus a mass broadcast. He uses this to connect to individuals that he wants to personally invite. One major thing to avoid is overloading people – he doesn’t want to hear from a DJ that is spinning on Monday and then again on Thursday – use in moderation.
  • Email campaigns – These can be very effective, but again should be used in moderation. Try to send no more than one email every 1-2 weeks and include a consolidation of everything you have going on. Don’t take advantage of your fans’ patience and wear them out.
  • RSS – rss allows subscribers to digest your information when they are ready to, is less intrusive, and still keeps people informed about what’s going on. If and when they are ready to connect to you, they have a single place they can look to find information about what’s going on without all the noise. Salah is implementing rss on his new site.

Salah is always looking at new ways to use technology as well. One idea he is actively working on is being able to extend special offers through SMS so that people can get benefits like no cover to his shows and RSVP through their phones.

The Human Touch

For some things, there is no substitute. Getting to know people on a personal level and being a great person is the first step in building an audience. People need to love your music and you. Turning your fans into friends helps to insure that people show up and builds connections that get you gigs.

Leverage

Word of mouth is “the most effective form of promotion, no matter what anyone comes up with.” This ties back into the Human Touch as well as using viral social networking tools and real world conversations. Putting something in people’s hands is also a key part of this. A fan telling him that they need a new CD because some girl stole the old one is a metric of success.

Audience

DJ Salah formal

DJ Salah formal

Salah describes his audience as ranging from 18-45 and educated. This is fertile ground for his intelligent music that blends house, soul, hip hop, salsa and Reggae. Although he does do some lounge, his patrons mostly come to him to dance. The gigs that he gets are mostly clubs, some restaurants, larger events (like opening for Dave Chapelle 8 times) and corporate events including Hennessy, Lincoln Properties and even Whole Foods.

Connect

Social networking combined with real world interaction allows Salah to keep connected to his patrons. Providing people with a great experience keeps them coming back for more.

Entice

Give people music that makes them dance and be a reliable resource for venue owners that fits with the vibe they are trying to build and draws crowds – that is the magic enticement blend.

Simplify

Salah uses the technology tools already mentioned to simplify promotions, but also has some tools of the trade to make DJ’ing easier. Most notably is Serato that allows him to perform with only his laptop in hand – critical when you are traveling internationally for a show and don’t want to drag around vinyl or CD’s. In fact, it is a prerequisite for all of the DJ’s that work for Salah.

Success

DJ Salah spinning

DJ Salah spinning

Success is fundamentally measured by how many people show up and if they are on the dance floor. Effectiveness of different promotional tools can be loosely measured by the amount of activity on the social networks, including retweets, RSVP’s to events, comments on past events, and the fan base of his Facebook group.

Final Words of Advice

Music always comes first, but DJ’s need to also be aware that they are Personalities. They need to connect on a personal level to their fans, look the part for venue owners and event organizers, and do a lot of leg work interacting with people and promoting to be successful. For promotions, it is critical to reach your target audience effectively and to respect them – connect with them on their terms and don’t beat people over the head with announcements.

Background

Salah Ananse was a child actor and actively involved in dance and promotion since he was very young. He broke into the scene with the help of his DJ friends that gave him access to gigs and he worked his way up by building strong friendships and being good at what he does. He is a DJ, producer and promoter – through his organization Soul Sessions which has worked with people like Erykah Badu and Rafael Saadiq.

Upcoming Events

Residencies

Other Events

Connect with DJ Salah

Website: www.salahananse.com
Soul Sessions: www.soulsessions.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/salahananse
Myspace: www.myspace.com/salahananse
Salah on LinkedIn
Salah on Facebook

Shout Outs

  • Dave Chappelle – just a great guy to work with
  • Anthony David – Grammy nominated singer
  • D.R.E.S. tha BEATnik – hype man based in Atlanta
  • Sean Alvarez from swanksociety.com - great people to collaborate with. Check out Swank Society’s page and hear music that will get you through your work day or party night.
  • DJ Kwestanother great collaborator.
  • Mausiki Scales – Jazz/Afro-beat musician that Salah is collaborating with on album, due out in August
  • The Tabernacle – Salah always has a great time spinning at this venue in downtown Atlanta
  • Sugar Hill – although closed now, this was a great venue with great people
  • Jazz Cafe – the amazing venue in London is a great experience for any artist

Clint Bradley – running a vacation rental property

Tres Vistas pool and front door

Tres Vistas pool and front door

Owning a vacation rental property seems like a tempting investment and, at first glance, might seem pretty straightforward:

  • Buy a place where you love to vacation
  • Rent it out when you aren’t there

However, it’s not that simple – as Clint Bradley from Dallas, TX discusses in this interview. He is one of the owners of Tres Vistas in Puerto Vallarta, MX – a luxury, 5 bedroom, 3 story house that overlooks the city and has great ocean views. He spends from 5 to 10 hours per week on work related to the house – from booking reservations to managing employees to accounting – and trips to PV are now only partial vacations that also involve a lot of house maintenance activities. Like all organizations, he constantly struggles with getting butts in seats, or in this case, bodies in beds. Here are some of the highlights from the interview, but you can also listen to it in its entirety

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Promotion

The fundamental challenge of getting butts in seats obviously applies to vacation rental owners. Some of Clint’s successes have come from:

  • Reservation sitesvrbo.com (Vacation Rental By Owner) is perhaps the most well known and Clint estimates it is responsible for a majority of their reservations, with listings typically costing $300-$500/year. Hotels.com also offer these services, although other players like Travelocity and Expedia don’t. Yelp and CitySearch offer solutions for multi-unit “guest houses” and even bed and breakfasts, but not much for individual vacation rentals and no listings in most countries outside of the U.S..
  • Tres Vistas own website – Tres Vistas also has its own website that provides comprehensive information about the property, but keeping this site up to date with new pictures and information can be time consuming due to the coordination that needs to happen with the web developer.
  • Rental agencies – local rental agencies result in approximately 10% of bookings and take about 20% of the reservation total as a fee.
  • Word of mouth – it’s estimated that this delivers about 10-15% of their yearly bookings

Clint has largely avoided social network sites like Facebook because he is not convinced that the time commitment to maintain information on yet another site would be worth the effort.

Leverage

Tres Vistas' living room

Tres Vistas' living room

When people consider vacationing in a different country, there can be some insecurity about finding a reliable place to stay. Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to address this and there are some ways Tres Vistas facilitates the buzz:

  • Make friends and acquaintances aware of the vacation property. This doesn’t have to be a hard sell, but actually knowing the property owner does reduce some of the perceived risk.
  • Have business cards that indicate where more information can be seen online about the property as well as reservation contact info.
  • Show people the property. Clint has used Tres Vistas to host several parties for friends and family. This gives him a chance to let people see for themselves what the property has to offer.
  • Encourage guests to comment on their stay at Tres Vistas on sites like VRBO.com.

Tres Vistas' 3-storied balconies

Tres Vistas' 3-storied balconies

Audience

Tres Vistas is a free standing house that can very comfortably sleep 12. While the house would still feel comfortable for a couple, it is intended for larger groups – possibly family gatherings, a group of friends on an adventure weekend or even as a private party venue.

The amenities (see the list below) are geared to make this a luxury home away from home. Tres Vistas wants every living need to be met – from WiFi to an available staff that can do grocery shopping or translation for you – so that guests can focus on their vacation. The full laundry room, walk in pantry and Wii with a high definition TV are all examples of attention to the target audience’s needs.

Connect

Tres Vistas relies on the Promotional tools already mentioned to connect to their patrons and, by delivering a great experience, helps to insure that guests will come back again and tell their friends.

Entice

The main terrace of Tres Vistas

The main terrace of Tres Vistas

This is simple. Tres Vistas entices its audience by offering a home-like situation… if you have a luxury home complete with staff. Otherwise, they offer the home you wish you had except that it is in the heart of a great Puerto Vallarta neighborhood with amazing views – a taste of the good life.

In addition, guests receive unique concierge benefits that go beyond well beyond good service. One example is that visitors are met at the airport by a bi-lingual taxi driver that knows exactly where the house is and will even have a drink run out to the cab on the way there. The house man greets them once they arrive, gives them a tour of the house, and coordinates with them to determine what groceries they may need and what time they would like to have breakfast served (should they want that).

Simplify

Tools like vrbo.com help to track reservations and keep potential guests informed about availability, although this information has to be kept up to date when reservations come in from other sources. Also, Paypal offers an easy to set up and manage merchant service account which allows Clint to process credit cards with little effort.

Success

Success is measured, obviously, by the number of reservations that are booked. Clint keeps track of how guests discover Tres Vistas and eliminates promotional tools that don’t perform.  He’s constantly trying new ways to attract guests (including sites like craigslist) and fine tunes to get the best results. Also, as more guests visit Tres Vistas, there is a growing fan base that makes organic reservations more common.

Final Words of Advice

Throughout my conversations with Clint, several key pieces of advice emerged for anyone considering operating a vacation rental.

  • It is a business like any other and requires attention and work. You have to promote, stay focused on providing guests with a great experience, manage the upkeep of the property, manage staff and workers, and deal with management of reservations. It’s nice to have a place you can getaway to a few times a year, but be aware that these will be working vacations.
  • Make sure you choose a property somewhere that you love to be.
  • Look at the market and try to find gaps. If there is a glut of 1 and 2 bedroom rentals, look for a larger property and vice versa.
  • Constantly try new ways to connect to likely patrons. You never know what might work.
  • Especially if you are considering a property in a foreign country, make sure you have staff or other resources that can help guests get plugged into the local community and act as a translator if needed. Make it easy for them to get the most out of their vacation.

Connect to Clint and Tres Vistas

Features

Tres Vistas pool at night

Tres Vistas pool at night

Tres Vistas is in a more traditional part of Puerto Vallarta – Zona Romantica. Different from the tourist areas that consist of homogenous shops, condos, etc, their location is surrounded by traditional family dwellings as well as multi-million dollar villas. In addition to the location advantage, the house itself offers stunning features.

Click above for more pics…
Amenities

  • 3 stories with balconies
  • A/C: 7 units
  • 800 thread count linens
  • Washer/Dryer
  • Gas/Electric grill
  • Pool/hot tub/ fireplace
  • WiFi
  • Free calls to U.S.

Beds

  • 3 King beds
  • 1 Queen bed
  • 2 Double beds

Entertainment

  • Dish Network Cable throughout
  • TV/DVD’s in all bedrooms
  • 2 public area TV’s
  • Wii Game station
  • CD players in all bedrooms
  • Living room/pool area stereo system
Kitchen

  • SS Fridge/Freezer
  • Ice Maker (filtered)
  • 6 burner gas stove
  • Oven
  • Double sink
  • 4-slice toaster
  • Coffee maker
  • Blender
  • Microwave
  • Cooking utensils, dishes, etc.
  • Water Cooler

Staff

  • Daily housekeeping
  • Prepared breakfast
  • House man/concierge

View

  • Ocean
  • Mountain
  • City
Local Activities

  • Golf
  • Beach
  • Zip Line/Canopy tours
  • Restaurants
  • Swimming
  • Windsurfing
  • Live Theater
  • Shopping
  • Gyms
  • Boating
  • Snorkeling/Diving
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Health/Beauty Spa
  • Horseback Riding
  • Sightseeing
  • Parasailing
  • Surfing
  • Fishing
  • Cinemas/Movie Theaters

Shout Outs

Stephanie Huebinger LudlowHuebinger Photography Studios, Round Rock, TX (Austin). When you rely on photos to convince people that your vacation rental is the best choice, having a great photographer is critical. Stephanie has been a great friend and huge help in promoting Tres Vistas.

The people of Puerto Vallarta – Clint credits the people of Puerto Vallarta for being so friendly and helpful to visitors. While the weather and house are great, the people of the city make the experience that much more enjoyable.