Going to the edges
The best restaurant in Omaha doesn't serve steak. And it's not a chain.
The Kitchen Table is run by two people who care. Colin and Jessica aren't trying to copy what's come before and they're not trying to please everyone.
When they first opened, people wanted to know why everything wasn't $5. (You can get a large dinner for two for $30 here). Instead of dumbing down the menu and averaging down on quality, they went the other way. There might be other restaurants in Nebraska that serve homemade dukkah on their salads and homemade sourdough bread with their sandwiches, but I don't know of any. And I think homemade watermelon rind pickles are scarce even in New York.
It helps that the rent is (really) cheap on the big city rent scale. It helps that the two people behind the restaurant live upstairs and are willing to put their hearts into it.
Now, the place is jammed most days for lunch, and dinner is almost as busy. Now, it's an 'of course', not a crazy scheme. It's a restaurant for people like us.
The reason that this is possible now, though, is that the 'us' in "people like us do things like this," can now more easily communicate with each other. A few clicks on the magical phone in your pocket and you can find this place... if you're looking for it.
And that's the secret to thriving on the edges: Build something that people will look for, something that people will talk about, something we would miss if it were gone.
Not for everyone.