Nick Badovinus two weeks ago opened a Neighborhood Services Bar & Grill in Preston Royal, but some neighbors still haven't noticed. That's fine by Badovinus, who says he relies on satisfied customers rather than fancy signage to attract business.
"To be honest, it's really where you want to spend the money," says Badovinus. "I'd rather spend marketing dollars inside."
The new location is heralded only by a glowing "NHS Bar and Grill" sign in a parapet above the front door.
"For me, after looking at the invoice, it seems pretty garish, but it's not a big flashing light," Badovinus says.
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Signage at Badovinus' first location on Lover's Love is similarly muted: "The money for that little plaque was the last $600 I had," he says.
Badovinus says he prefers to "stay below the radar," but recognizes restaurants with multiple backers are often obliged to do something showy for investors. Many restaurants with partners to please stage a mock service meal, in which owners' guests are treated to a free meal that's supposed to be a dress rehearsal for opening night. Problems arise, Badovinus says, when the newly trained staff can't deliver the food and service guests have been promised.
"It's not like they walk out the door and, because they're not paying, their brains have been erased," Badovinus says. "There's no way that doesn't stigmatize a restaurant."
The small sign and unadvertised opening don't seem to have dimmed the new restaurant's prospects: "We've had all the business we can handle," Badovinus says. "There's such a thing as getting too busy."