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Challenges Some Restaurants Face in Terre Haute

Many factors go into keeping a restaurant's doors open. A local economist says Terre Haute offers a few ingredients that can help a restaurant's success.
Some restaurants are able to flourish in Terre Haute, as its economy offers a huge advantage.

"The costs are low, the risks are relatively low starting in Terre Haute," says Dr. Robert Guell, Professor of Economics at ISU.

Another advantage of Terre Haute is traffic.

"Interstate 70 gives you a lot of out of town traffic. You're not reliant on the local market," Guell added.

One key to success for local restaurants, like J. Gumbo's, is variety.

"Nobody here in Terre Haute has the same thing that we have, which is a real perk having the only dish like this," said Jeff Habermel, owner of J. Gumbo's in Terre Haute.

A daily challenge Jeff faces is keeping his clientèle happy. When he comes across an upset customer, it's something he can't shake.

"What did I do wrong? What did they misinterpret? What did I not explain to them? Obviously it falls back on me because I'm responsible and it's our establishment. But in the end, it doesn't leave you," Habermel explained.

Habermel feels being an owner means showing face at the establishment.

"You've got to be there to make sure that your investment is consistent."

Several colleges in town assist Terre Haute restaurants in many business areas.

"The college student is going to be the table waiter but they're also going to be the customer," added Dr. Guell.
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