Column: Four longtime friends open bistro in Lansing

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Four longtime female friends and entrepreneurs have partnered to bring downtown Chicago’s high-quality dining and entertainment to the South Suburbs with the opening of their restaurant, The Rhoyal Bistro Live, in Lansing last month.

The restaurant also offers live entertainment for diners on Fridays and Saturdays, which the team says is what sets it apart.

“There aren’t many competitors doing what we’re doing,” says Siobhan Robinson, who owns the restaurant with Shaneka Dyson, Dianka White and Natasha Robinson, who call themselves The Restaurant Girls.

“We’re big on differentiating ourselves,” Dyson said. “We said if we’re going to do this, it has to be different.”

“We wanted to have that downtown Chicago feel to give the South Suburbs something a little more fun than the average restaurant,” says Natasha Robinson.

The restaurant’s target audience is patrons ages 30 to 35 and older who enjoy good food, R&B, blues, jazz and gospel music and the atmosphere of a grown-up chic establishment where you don’t have to pay for parking. The partners emphasize that The Royal Bistro Live is not a concert venue, but a restaurant that provides entertainment while you dine.

The restaurant is located at 2352 172nd St., the former location of Outriggers Steak and Seafood, and where Dixie Kitchen & Bait Shop operated before the move. The ever-evolving menu features American fusion options and includes seafood, steak, pasta and salads.

Before opening last month, the partners invested in painting the restaurant, resetting the bar and installing new fixtures and decor. While Outriggers sometimes offers entertainment, The Rhoyal Bistro Live plans to offer live entertainment every Friday and Saturday and has a new stage that can host a 10-piece band. It calls for plans to add outdoor patio seating next year.

The restaurant’s daughters separately own and operate other businesses.

A certified public accountant, Dyson owns and operates Jump N’Jam Inflatables and Jump N’Jam Playland in Lansing and The Atrium Special Event Venue in Country Club Hills.

Natasha Robinson of Specialty Building Services Inc. in Chicago. Owns and operates a full service cleaning company.

Siobhan Robinson, no relation, is the owner of Chicago Mobile Realty, a full-service real estate brokerage, and co-owner of R Impact Title Company.

White is the owner and operator of White Wilson & Associates in South Holland, which specializes in accounting and payroll services. She is also the owner of White Wilson Business Solutions, a business consulting, marketing and staffing agency.

The women know each other and have been sisters for more than 25 years. Dyson and White met in seventh grade and attended Thornridge High School in Dolton, where they first met and became friends with Siobhan Robinson. The three became friends with Natasha Robinson while attending Southern Illinois University. They all pledged to Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, which is how Rho in Rhoyal came to be.

They have long wanted to do business together in the southern suburbs.

“We thought how great it would be if we all worked together to be great in our own fields,” Natasha Robinson said.

They felt the time and place was right to start the restaurant. It’s off the freeway, has ample parking, is close to northwest Indiana and a new Hilton hotel brand property is being built nearby, Natasha Robinson noted. She said it appeals to customers who frequent Lansing’s outdoor concerts in the summer and are not far from the Homewood/East Hazel Crest casino site.

But none of the women had ever owned a restaurant, so they were focused and determined to learn the business. They brought in consultants with experience in the restaurant industry to help them. Partners attend Rhoyal boot camp training with staff and receive training on all aspects of the business.

“We’re not over it,” White said.

Even if they don’t know the industry completely, their entrepreneurial backgrounds are a plus. They started by listing 15,000 email addresses from their existing businesses, all of whom are savvy social media marketers, Dyson said. They also follow digital billboards and other traditional marketing.

The business started well, opening every week except Tuesday. The grand opening was packed, and Sunday gospel brunch and Friday and Saturday nights are among the busiest days, Dyson said. The 10,000 square foot restaurant can seat up to 200 people. It also offers a private room for up to 80 people and a semi-private space for up to 50 people for private special events and celebrations, he said.

When asked what the key to their long-term success was, White and Natasha Robinson said it was important to listen to customer feedback and have friendly staff who provide great customer service and enjoy their work and want to be there. over there.

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“It takes hard work, dedication, and you don’t always have to think, be creative, and be afraid to take risks,” says Siobhan Robinson.

But one thing the partners say they won’t jeopardize is their friendship. When they decided to join the industry, they were worried that their friendship might one day suffer, as sometimes happens when friends go into business.

“We took a nap and went to breakfast and that was the topic,” Dyson said. “Whatever happens, we said it won’t affect our friendship. Our friendship is very important. We love each other from the bottom of our hearts.”

The partners begin each meeting with prayer and focus on meeting regularly to let everyone know and provide input, he said.

Siobhan Robinson: “When you have partners, you have to communicate through the good, the bad and the ugly and you have to remember the basis of why you did it.”

“We’ve had disagreements, we’ve butted heads,” Dyson said. “Sometimes business styles can clash, but at the end of the day, when we’re gone, it’s always I love you. There is no price to pay for our friendship.

Francine Knowles is a freelance columnist for the Daily Southtown.

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