An Offer They Can't Refuse

Eat. Or We Both Starve.
Later Alligator is a restaurant located in the Centre Market district of Wheeling, West Virginia.  It is as trendy and hip as the neighborhood it calls home.  The most interesting thing about Gator is its story.  And everyone has a story.

Owner and creator, Susan Hadaad, saw an old building that was on the brink of ruins.  She put her own blood, sweat, and tears into the building’s rehab to create a unique eatery in a unique part of town.  With little more than twelve tables inside and a hand full of tables on the outside patio, the ambience is only superseded by the limited, yet artfully designed menu. 

As soon as the remodel was done and the place finally opened, the economy took a nose dive. Susan began telling people she was going to close; she set January 2009 as the date.  Then an outcry from the community began. A Facebook page was started to garner support. The community came together to save this little place.  It worked.  Later Alligator remains open today and has even expanded its menu. Later Alligator is the little restaurant that could. 

The City of Wheeling and the Wheeling Chamber of Commerce
The City of Wheeling and the Wheeling Chamber of Commerce each have a story to tell. While the stories they must tell are similar, the audiences are different. The City’s story revolves around the quality of life; the Chamber’s story revolves around business.  But quality of life and the business climate go hand-in-hand.  The strength of the quality of life is attractive to businesses and the strength of the business climate is attractive to the workforce; and the people who sustain the businesses.

If the City and the Chamber join forces to tell the story of Wheeling, everyone wins. As the Chamber works to build relationships for business retention, then places like Later Alligator have an army of advocates.  As the City tells its story and what it makes it unique, they can make the audience the central character in the story by touting places like Later Alligator. 

An Offer They Can’t Refuse
Later Alligator’s story is parallel to the City’s story in many ways.  It once was great, then it stumbled and almost failed, and is now on its way back up.  People talk about when Later “almost” closed in the same way they talk about what Wheeling “used to be”.  Later is the place to have lunch but struggles with the dinner crowd.  The City’s Downtown is vibrant during the day but struggles with nightlife. 

When telling a story for the purposes of marketing, we have to give them an offer they can’t refuse. When telling Later Alligator’s story to the internal market (the locals), we can relate the allure of the restaurant to the audience’s desire for a hip eatery.  When telling the City of Wheeling’s story, I say to this to the businesses and the people of this place called Wheeling:  Remember when downtown rocked? Well, some things never change…


  1. " The City’s Downtown is vibrant during the day but struggles with nightlife."

    I don't see this at all. I live in Old Town, and this downtown is completely dead. Its a shame but there is virtually nothing downtown to attract anyone during the day let alone night time. Its sad because yes it did use to be a very vibrant little city. Where are all the mom and pop stores, the bakeries, the authentic ethnic restaurants, the books stores, the restaurants??? All gone, and in its place a huge ugly shopping center 10 miles away.

    Wheeling COULD be a very vibrant city again, but it will take alot of work,support and dedication from both the City leaders and the locals to make that happen. There are a number of ways to do that. sOther small towns and cities in the Rust Belt are doing it, so why not here.

  2. Barbe,

    I work downtown and it is vibrant during the day. There are loads of people who work downtown and patronize the businesses that are there. In terms of nightlife, I agree. However, this time of year there is always something to do such as at the Heritage Port, WesBanco Arena, and the Capitol. I'm not disagreeing with you that we have a long way to go,and it DOES take leaders and the locals. The locals can begin by attending all of the events, having lunch at Centre Market, or dropping their shoes at Campetti's for a quick fix. I'd love to know your thoughts about what the city's "Story" is and how we can tell it in an effort to be a catalyst for positive change!