Starting at 9 p.m. every Sunday at Allyn’s: More Than a Cafe, you can find owner Allyn Raifstanger and the Blue Birds Big Band playing into the deep hours of the night. Allyn’s first opened in its original location nearly 20 years ago. While there have and continue to be numerous changes to the surroundings, Allyn’s has been a stable landmark as you round the corner of Columbia Parkway.
The last decade has seen many dining establishments come and go as more and more families stay home for meals in an attempt to shore up cash flow. But Allyn’s has made it through past poor economies and has come out of each stronger as a result.
"We are constantly reinventing ourselves. The core of our dining experience has and always will have that Cajun feel, but we are not afraid to improve upon the experience for our customers by thinking outside of the box," Raifstanger says. "We have learned to be flexible." That flexibility and out-of-the-box thinking led to a beer and wine shop expansion to Allyn’s off the back entrance in 2001. With more than 400 distinct wines and more than 125 domestic, imported and microbrewed beers, the shop adds a unique twist to the live entertainment and eclectic menu.
"Flexibility" and "core" are two key words that guide Raifstanger and his wife, Karen, at home as well with their finances. "Running our business, managing real estate, saving for retirement and preparing for college expenses for three boys requires tremendous flexibility. Just like diversifying the restaurant as times have changed, we have worked hard to diversify our household assets, not just relying on Allyn’s itself," Karen says.
Through their personal diversification, the Raifstangers have stayed true to their core values and principles and used the ever-changing experience to teach their kids. "Everyone in the family understands the details associated with our financial wherewithal and the freedom and constraints associated with such," Karen says. "I would highly recommend to other parents the importance of providing financial understanding and communication in your home."
As the Raifstanger family continues to entertain locals for years to come, we appreciate their ability to maintain not only the dining establishment but the backbone of their personal finances even through the economic downturn. For all business owners, both have to be secure to be successful over an extended period of time.
And if you have yet to go, be sure to add Allyn’s to your list of future evenings of entertainment.
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