A Tale of Two Restaurants

Right across the street from a place I used to work there was a restaurant. Bright. Airy. Convenient. With a beautiful corner location in a great neighborhood and plenty of foot traffic it seemed like a slam dunk for success.

Down a nearby side street in a cramped basement there was another restaurant. Small. Hidden. Dark. Tough to find and tucked away from passersby, it had hard sell written all over it. You could walk right by and not even notice it.

However, the first restaurant was always out of everything. On my first visit I ordered 4 times before they actually had what I wanted. While the menu suggested amazing, the food was generally just above average. The service was curt and even rude at times. A pleasant case of cookies and desserts at the counter promised so much more than the actual mediocre treats delivered. Normally, I wouldn’t have returned, but the location was ultra convenient so I visited several times before finally giving up.

On the other hand, the hidden place was always packed. People lined up in the crowded basement to get delicious soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts. The staff was enthusiastic and offered plenty of free samples and generous advice on the best dishes of the day. It wasn’t cheap, but I never ate anything that was less than amazing. Great food. Great customer service. Truly remarkable. So remarkable that everyone at work talked about how great it was and always recommended it to new employees. Word of mouth in action.

I walked through that neighborhood yesterday and the corner joint was shuttered. Not sure why they closed, but the crappy customer experience couldn’t have helped.

The basement place was jumping. There was a huge line of people patiently waiting for great food and great service.

No matter what you do, a great experience will keep your customers coming back and telling their friends. They will seek you out and reward you with repeat business. Location can help, but nothing beats the power of awesome.

What do you think?