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Smith Mountain Lake restaurant prepares for business in cooler months

Published: Oct. 11, 2021 at 4:12 PM EDT
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SMITH MOUNTAIN LAKE, Va. (WDBJ) - As boating season winds down, some restaurants around Smith Mountain Lake are switching gears as the seasons change.

“We want to pay our bills in the wintertime,” says Tom Gordon, owner of Jake’s Place. “We’re not looking to make a fortune here.”

Jake’s Place, which sits just off Moneta Road on Smith Mountain Lake, feeds people year-round.

The restaurant has been in business 11 years. “We have two different groups of people that we have to attract,” explains Gordon. “We have a bar here, and then we have the dining group that comes in the dining room.

Those people also travel to the restaurant by land and lake.

According to Gordon, year-round success for a lakefront restaurant is something that takes years to cultivate. “I spend a lot of my time, as my son Mike does, and the staff does, just to meet the people that come in here. Get to know them. They come back a second or third time, you get to know their name if they come in often enough. You develop that relationship over the course of years, then the winter months now become not a huge challenge any longer. You’ve got to plant the seeds early.” The restaurant also uses specials to keep people excited about coming in, while placing significant wright in customer feedback.

“Listen to your customers,” begins Gordon. “They’re going to tell you what they expect, they’re going to tell you what we did wrong. The good ones will tell you that, and you have to listen to them.”

Gordon says that business in the winter months is regularly at least half as busy as in the summer months.

Keeping their doors open in the cooler months and staying afloat.

“It’s beautiful here. You have the leaves changing. There’s a lot of events here around the lake. So our point is, if you’re going to come back, why not come back and see us?”

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