Columbia natives have celebrated Motor Supply Co. Bistro’s upscale farm-to-table dishes and handcrafted cocktails since its conception in 1989, but the restaurant also serves as a particularly popular hub for another audience entirely: business travelers.
“We have a really large contingent of business travelers,” Josh Streetman, Motor Supply’s head barman, said. “We always say we’re right here in the eye of the storm. We’ve got three or four hotels right around us, as well as the convention center and people who are members of the legislature downtown.”
Streetman says Motor Supply’s reputation and outlets like social media and blogs are a huge part of the driving force that brings business travelers through Motor Supply. On any given weeknight, Streetman says, the whole bar area might be filled with business people.
Visitors regularly rave about the restaurant’s wine list, variety of creative dishes, and polite service. This reputation works not only as a recommendation for new business people visiting Columbia, but also brings regulars back to Motor Supply. Whether they are coming through the city once a year, once a month, or once a week, Streetman says, the restaurant’s regulars make a habit of having a meal at Motor Supply.
Streetman says the upscale atmosphere of the restaurant is a huge drawing force for business travelers.
“Business people go out and travel and are solo—they’re by themselves. They don’t necessarily want to go out and party. It’s not a Vegas experience for everyone,” Streetman says. “These are business people, and they want to come and have a nice dinner. They want to have a little conversation and dinner, and then they want to get back to work.”
Motor Supply General Manager Stephanie Heikila says that the restaurant’s conversation-starting environment is one of its biggest strengths for creating a great restaurant atmosphere for business travelers.
“I think one of the coolest things about Motor Supply is that it’s a place with no TVs. You come in here, and you talk to people,” Heikila says.
Stephanie says the lack of distraction coming from televisions encourages interaction between strangers, particularly at the bar, allowing business travelers to easily forge new friendships. Among the conversation starters are regularly rotated works of art, as well as the historic building’s rustic atmosphere.
Streetman says that for incoming travelers, Motor Supply is the “total package.” The combination of the restaurant’s dedicated staff, historic atmosphere, and innovative, ever-changing menu are some of the strongest aspects behind Motor Supply’s great reputation.
“Motor Supply is not a happy hour party place. It’s more of a serious food establishment,” Streetman said. “We have a lot of people who come because of that. They come for the food, and they appreciate the hospitality and service.”