Santa Paula: Rabalais’ Bistro Celebrates Five Year Anniversary

By Sheryl Hamlin

On Saturday, August 27, 2016, Rabalais’ Bistro celebrated its Five Year Anniversary with standing room only, deep fried alligator and swampy blues music by D.on Darox & The Melody Joy Bakers which propelled dancing in the aisles and the balcony.












Dinner service started at 5:00 pm and by 6:30 pm there was a 45 minute wait for a table inside, on the outside patio or upstairs.


So how does a restaurant make it to five years? Owners Tracy and Dave Lippert form a perfect balance. Both are detailed oriented and outgoing. She creates food, develops loyal, well-trained staff and cultivates clients. He, as a CPA, works the numbers and crafts the business plan.

According to the Perry Group who studies restaurant longevity, restaurant failure is predictable:

…The Perry Group study concluded that most restaurants close during their first year of operation. Seventy percent of those that make it past the first year close their doors in the next three to five years….

So, not only is Rabalais’ Bistro a rare statistic on a broad scale, but locally in a community of barely 30,000 people, its success is notable.

Tracy Lippert says that food quality and freshness, originality of the dining experience and the homemade touch make a difference. How many places serve homemade pastries and grits? Tracy also stressed that opening a restaurant is a risk-filled entrepreneurial venture. Each good experience leads to the next, according to Tracy Lippert, who manages the customer experience, building true loyalty one customer at a time.


Rabalais’ Bistro has cultivated various regular groups: morning dog walkers, St. Thomas Aquinas students, Bible study groups, bicyclists who have their own bike racks and businesses who come to meet. Some regulars describe Rabalais’ Bistro as a club.

According to Tracy, a bicycle advocacy group will be filming in Santa Paula this week and will include the bicyclists’ enjoyment of the outside patio and bike racks.

Below are Dave Lippert and Hayden, a valued employee, and daughter Lea Lippert.










And when a fellow restaurateur and local business owner is a regular, this is high praise. Shown here is Clint Garman of Garman’s Irish Pub enjoying the scene with the guys.


For an entrepreneur, no job is too small or unimportant. Tracy Lippert does it all with ease. Santa Paula is blessed with such dedicated, creative business owners. Congratulations to the Lippert family and their team on five successful years.


Tracy Lippert

Photo Credits: Sheryl Hamlin

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