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Running Your Business:
Reading the Phone Book for Fun and Profit
By Miriam Silverberg

Have you ever read the phone book? I mean really read it, not just looked up a number. It's amazing what you can learn.

Suppose you looked in the yellow pages under clubs. You'd find hundreds of clubs, many of which meet at restaurants. Same thing with associations. It's unbelievable how many ethnic groups have their own television stations, at least in New York. They're listed in the phone book and you don't have to speak their language to get on a program. Look in the white pages under Japanese and you'll find so many Japanese television stations,organizations and companies. Call them and ask what they do, if you can't figure it out from the listing. Some will be of no use (a Japanese dress manufacturer), but others like Japan Travel Bureau are great resources.

Look under whatever ethnic-type restaurant you own. French? There's French-American television and French newspapers. Also, French clubs and organizations. I guarantee they won't hold their meetings at a Spanish restaurant. And if you do own a Spanish restaurant, then the Spanish clubs won't meet at a French restaurant.

Once you find these clubs, call them. Introduce yourself and ask if they meet at restaurants and if not, why not. Tell them about your restaurant. Do you have group menus? You should. Many of these clubs are on a budget but you might feel it worth it to lower your prices for them to gain exposure. After all, if the members like your place, they are likely to return.

You're Indian? Contact the Indian Consulate and Indian fraternal organizations. Whatever nationality your restaurant, there is a Consulate or organization devoted to them. You may have to join, but you should be joining organizations.

If there is a college near you, there may be a famous professor who either is of your ethnicity or is a specialist in the field. Invite him and pick his brain. Maybe he can bring others to dine.

Regarding television and newspapers, it doesn't really matter whether the viewers and readers are here or in their native countries. If the program airs back home, it's still good exposure. After all, people travel and when they come here, they'll know about you and want to dine.

And don't ignore ethnic groups different from yours. Japanese, to name just one, love French and Italian food. And if they like the restaurant, they'll return over and over.

Don't just sit back, twiddle your thumbs and wait for something to happen. It won't. You have to make it happen.

Miriam Silverberg is the founder and owner of a boutique public relations agency in New York City. Listed in Who's Who of American Women, she is a panelist on Mary- mount Manhattan College's annual day-long seminar on writing and publicity. She has represented some of the top restaurants in New York. She can be contacted by e-mail at

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