Showing my age here, but there were several Wendy's commercials some time ago, with a grandma asking "where's the beef?" To refresh your memory, I've pasted one from YouTube below.
The "Where's the beef" lady isn't seduced by the fine bun, the clean presentation, or even the tidy condiments. She won't settle for less than the real thing, and she's not going to swallow her discontent and walk away. She wants a juicy hamburger.
Give that lady a burger!
Same is true with your story. You can dress up the characters in all their finery and quirks, but if you're not going anywhere with these characters, your customers/readers will not be satisfied.
A murder story was every reporter’s dream - Molly in Murder in the Buff