SOUTHINGTON-In 1967 there was no social media, in fact the Internet didnâ€™t even exist. With only four restaurants stretching from Plainville to Cheshire, marketing an eatery was not very hard.
Today, more than 70 restaurants stretch across Queen Street in Southington from Route 10 to Cheshire, for Saintâ€™s Restaurant â€“ which turns 50 this year â€“ social media has been a tool they are taking advantage of.
â€śYou canâ€™t underestimate the power of having an online presence,â€ť director of operations and grandson of the founding owners at Saintâ€™s, Tyler St. Pierre, said.
In 2015 for National Hot Dog Day Thrillist, an online media brand covering food, drink, travel and entertainment, reposted St. Pierreâ€™s photo of the chili dogs at Saintâ€™s on its Instagram account for its more than 300,000 followers from around the world to see.
â€śI freaked out because there were thousands of people liking this picture of our hot dog, and itâ€™s such a huge reach. Itâ€™s awesome,â€ť St. Pierre said.
Since rejoining his familyâ€™s business full-time, after working in fine dining in New York, Las Vegas and Florida, St. Pierre constantly uses social media to try inspiration for new and unique items to serve.
â€śEverybody has their phone in their pocket at this point,â€ť said St. Pierre. â€śAnyone can write a review, anybody can post something. Every plate that goes out you want it to be awesome because if someone takes a picture of it thatâ€™s marketing for you and itâ€™s great for the restaurant and it also means that you have to be consistent.â€ť
Consistently at Saintâ€™s can be found off the plate too.
Since his grandparents, Donald and Joan St. Pierre, started the business and then his parents, John and Claudia, took over, all four have had deep roots in Plainville and Southington.
Donald was politically active in the town, and was elected a State Representative for Plainville from 1975 to 1976. John was on the football team at Plainville High School, and Claudia went to Southington High School.
All of St. Pierreâ€™s siblings, Ashley, Ryan and Morgan, and himself grew up alongside their parents and grandparents working at the restaurant.
â€śPeople can appreciate that they can walk in and see a member of our family here or employees that have been here for a long time that have become part of our family,â€ť said St. Pierre. â€śI think that consistency and regularity of service and faces and familiarity are something people are comfortable with contributes to our success.â€ť
John credits the quality of food, price point and service as other success factors.
Many of the customers at Saintâ€™s are repetitive, coming in and out for all meals of the day.
â€śWe like to say weâ€™re peopleâ€™s other kitchen table,â€ť John said.
With being in business for half a century, the St. Pierre family has gotten to see and befriend generations of customers. And for those that have moved away from the town, Saintâ€™s is one of the first places they stop in when they come back.
â€śWeâ€™re way more than just a family restaurant,â€ť St. Pierre said.
The 50 year milestone, although a time for celebration, is also a reflective period for the family business about all those that have come and gone, and how the business evolved.
â€śThe involvement of the family is always changing, the future isnâ€™t written in stone, whatever is gonna happen in the next 50 years is still a question mark,â€ť St. Pierre said.
One thing that is for sure is that they are entirely grateful for their customers.
In honor of them, and to celebrate the anniversary Saintâ€™s will host $1 Hot Dog Day from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7. All proceeds will go to the Petit Family Foundation â€“ family friends of the St. Pierreâ€™s. There is a maximum of 10 hot dogs limited per order.
Angie DeRosa can be reached at 860-801-5063 or firstname.lastname@example.org