NELDON: Service to community goes long way in business longevity

For as long as I can remember, I have ordered the same dish at Prime Table in Niles: Belgian waffle with peanut butter on the side, and a side of a bacon.

Growing up less than three miles from the restaurant, I’ve visited the popular establishment more times than I can count, each time sitting across from my mom (and sometimes other family members), talking about life and eating the same menu items. The same friendly faces have greeted me at the door, poured our water glasses and prepared our food.

Perhaps the most important element of this tradition that has kept me coming back for years, though, is the fact that I cannot recall ever eating a meal there without owners Mary, Nick or Bill visiting the table to ask how it was.

Prime Table sponsors athletic teams, hosts Chamber of Commerce events, gives to local charity organizations, supports the local fairs and cheers on area sports teams, often decorating its marquee with “Go Lady Cats!” or similar messages.

Good food and atmosphere go a long way in a successful restaurant, but this sort of hospitality and commitment to community are the key ingredients to any business’ longevity. Niles is fortunate to have had the Giannakakis family at the helm of this Niles Township restaurant for the last 25 years.

Across county lines, Lyons Industries, celebrating 50 years of business, has proven that similar values are the key to long-term survival in the business world.

Lyons products can be found inside homes not only in southwest Michigan, but all over the country. While Lyons is unlike Prime Table in that it does not directly serve customers locally, the business has employed thousands of employees throughout the past half-century.

Lyons has been committed to the City of Dowagiac (as is evident by Don Lyons’ dedicated service as mayor) since day one. Large portions of the company’s profits have been invested right back into the community. In 2016, Lance Lyons helped to restore the city’s skate park. As mayor, Don Lyons has helped to revitalize the downtown corridor — both visually and commercially, among a large number of other accomplishments. The business underwrites local festivals, donates to local charities, city improvement projects, little league sports teams and much more.

Like the Giannakakis family, the Lyons know that, despite the reach of their products and services, a strong partnership with the community it resides is invaluable to the success and sustainability of the business.

Entrepreneurs of all kinds, owning all shapes and sizes of businesses, should learn from these successful businesses’ example and work hard to become a business its customers and neighbors can rely on.

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