SOUTHINGTON - In 1967 there was no social media, in fact the Internet didn’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 Saint’s Restaurant - which turns 50 this year - social media has been a tool they are taking advantage of.
“You can’t underestimate the power of having an online presence,” director of operations and grandson of the founding owners at Saint’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. Pierre’s photo of the chili dogs at Saint’s on its Instagram account for its more than 300,000 followers from around the world to see.
“I freaked out because there were thousands of people liking this picture of our hot dog, and it’s such a huge reach. It’s awesome,” St. Pierre said.
In honor of the restaurant's 50th anniversary, on Saturday, Saint's will offer $1 hot dogs, with a limit of 10 per order, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. All proceeds will go to the Petit Family Foundation.
Since rejoining his family’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.
“Everybody has their phone in their pocket at this point,” said St. Pierre. “Anyone 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 that’s marketing for you and it’s great for the restaurant and it also means that you have to be consistent.”
Consistency at Saint’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 it 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.
St. Pierre and his siblings, Ashley, Ryan and Morgan, grew up alongside their parents and grandparents working at the restaurant.
“People 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,” said St. Pierre. “I think that consistency and regularity of service and faces and familiarity are something people are comfortable with contributes to our success.”
John St. Pierre credits the quality of food, price point and service as other success factors.
Many of the customers at Saint’s are repetitive, coming in and out for all meals of the day.
“We like to say we’re people’s other kitchen table,” 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 who have moved away from the town, Saint’s is one of the first places they stop in when they come back.
“We’re way more than just a family restaurant,” 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.
“The involvement of the family is always changing, the future isn’t written in stone, whatever is gonna happen in the next 50 years is still a question mark,” St. Pierre said.
Angie DeRosa can be reached at 860-801-5063 or firstname.lastname@example.org