Editor's note: Jessica Ann is a restaurant owner who's blogging about trying to rebound from the coronavirus pandemic at My Rebound by FOX 17. She founded The Candied Yam, a Grand Rapids restaurant serving Southern cuisine, in 2016. She is married with a daughter who just graduated high school and an adult son. She lives in Kentwood.
Music sets a tone. Such a wide range of feelings can be felt. It can either make you feel happy, sad, inspired, joy, relaxed, hyped or feel good. One song says, "Music makes you lose control."
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I absolutely LOVE music and we definitely play music at the Candied Yam, Delightful Southern Cuisine. When I first opened we played only gospel and R&B. Believe it or not, some of our customers complained. Not about the R&B but the gospel music. Some did not like the reference of ‘God’ or ‘Jesus’. I didn’t change it. Sorry not sorry. As an owner, I will make some exceptions - except that one. Soul food and southern cuisine is deeply rooted in my ancestor’s Christianity (faith) - and mine as well. Then I realized that some of my customers had favorite songs for different occasions. Maybe they were getting engaged so they wanted us to play a certain song at a certain time. Or it was a crowd pleasing favorite song and so it needed to be played over and over again. Then we have our team. They like ALL kinds of music. From down home blues, to Tupac. DMX to slow jams, jazz and rock n roll and yes a bit of heavy-metal. My team loves it all. If we are there for eight hours a day - plus - can you imagine hearing the same music or same type of music over and over and over and over again for 40 hours a week? You probably wouldn’t want to do that. When our customers come in they know that they can request specific songs or specific genres of music and we will play it. I know some restaurants stick to a specific type of play list. We tried that. It did not work. My team would go behind my back and always change the music so sometimes when the customers came they would be walking in to some unedited version of Drake or Biggie Smalls. Eyes totally popping out of head to the ‘F-Bombs’. Maybe the prior week the customer visited and we had some Bobby Brown or some Uncle Charlie or Aretha Franklin on goin on. That next week we felt like some Elton John or Barbra Streisand .... and they would say ‘hey what’s up with the music’? Alright already! ‘Play that funky music!’ Ummm - You know that’s a song right?!
Some days it’s all Pharrell because it’s a ‘I’m Happy’ type of day and then other days it’s a “Let’s get it on” Marvin Gaye type of day.
Based on music, Phys.org “found that restaurateurs in different food establishments can influence how long their customers stay, how much they eat and whether or not they come back for seconds. Additionally, Srivastava (researcher) suggests that it is well known that background music influences the amount of time and money spent by consumers. It helps reduce anxiety, improves mood and reduces stress associated with queuing. His study looks at the impact of the tempo and type of music being played in an eaterie and its effect on consumers. He has now tested four hypotheses.
The first: That appropriate music will improve restaurant footfalls. The second: that slower music will increase the time people stay in a restaurant. The third: that customers will return if they enjoyed the music on their first visit. Finally, the music has to match the type of food to have the most influence.
I have failed miserably already. The problem I have is that I totally agree. The other problem I have is that I totally want to do things my own way. I don’t think the study took into account the people I am working with. As a matter fact, I’m sure they did not. But shouldn’t they have some type of say? I guess not since their job is to please the customers coming through the door. We cook and create the environment and they pay and enjoy. I guess that’s an OK trade off.
Hey y’all - I was super duper excited this week because we actually had a band return to practice at my restaurant - Al Hight and M6 West. They dusted off those Instruments and came out to Yam at the jam! The customers were so thrilled and even though they had mask on, I knew they were super excited. You could see toes tapping and finger snapping as people felt good about listening to live music! Unfortunately, only a limited amount of people could fit in the room but the customers who were waiting in line and for their meals to go we’re so happy ... and I was in heaven!
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All my life music has played an important role. When I was a teenager my parents invested in not only an organ but organ lessons for me. I also sang in the church choir as a youth. As a hobby, I happen to sing with the band .... when I have time. Before Covid, I started taking music lessons from Avalon Cutts. She’s really an amazing vocalist and teacher. I started doing so NOT to get a new career or because I want to be ‘Diana Boss’ or ‘Mariah Scary’. LOL! But, when I go on my restaurant stage I want to entertain my guest by respecting the art. I want it to be an enjoyable experience for them and selfishly for me because I love music! I was so happy to feel the groove and to see my customers smile again! “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.” ― Plato