I am one of those who sees food as much more than fuel, more as an art form, entertainment, expression. The dinner table as the best place to spend quality time. Great food, great wine, great conversation.
I love exploring new tastes. But I am also fiercely loyal. Once I find a restaurant which delivers, I become a top customer. If any of my favorite restaurants awarded “frequent flyer” points I’d be a million miler.
I am a restaurateur’s dream.
I am a restaurateur’s nightmare.
I have blacklisted more restaurants than I care to mention.
For the slightest transgression.
You see, I work hard for my money.
And I expect others to work hard for my money too.
Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos, the company that took the shoe store online, says that “every phone call is a chance to build the Zappos brand.” How right. Brand is built at the point of customer contact. There are multiple contact points in service-based businesses. Contact points which go way beyond exposure to advertising and packaging. Think of banking, for example. Your bank probably spends millions on advertising, and more millions on retail design. But the most powerful and lasting impression you have of your bank was made by the last teller who served you.
Back to restaurants. And to one in particular. A famous New York steakhouse, one of the best in the city, located midtown on Third Avenue. You may know it. You may have been there. Two blocks away from my office at McCann-Erickson Worldwide, I was a lunchtime regular. With or without clients, I was there twice a week.
Until that night ….
I arrived late. Around 11PM. The lunchtime shift had long gone home. None of my familiar waiters to greet me by name. I was seated at a table. Not a good one. I asked to move. The restaurant was empty. The waiter refused. I asked to speak to the maitre. He came over. “Your waiter,” I said, “is a jerk.” He told me that he could not allow anyone to speak about his waiters in that way and asked me to leave. I did. And I never set foot in there again.
To Greece. Several years later. I was enjoying an outside lunch at my favorite Italian restaurant in Vouliagmeni, Athens. I felt like a cigarette but had no matches. “Excuse me,” I said to a waiter, “do you have a light?” The answer came in a backward upward flip of the head accompanied by a clicking sound. Greek for no. I said, “Can you find me some matches?” “Where should I find matches?” came the reply.
I saw red. Jumped out of my chair and walked straight over to the maitre.
“Your waiter,” I said, “is a jerk.” “I know he is,” he laughed, “you’re not telling me anything I don’t know.” I burst out laughing, returned to my seat and asked the next table for a light. I continue to eat there at least once a week.
There are some things I really love about Greece.
So, one of the things you love about Greece, is that you are served by someone who his maitre thinks is a jerk…interesting that he still has a job. Interesting that a maitre admits to a customer that one of his waiters is a jerk, and he still has a job.Interesting that a restaurant that those two work together has customers.
Peter, this was exactly what I mentioned to you when I met you on the plane from Athens to Istanbul. The thing is not if these two people are work together and have customers. The thing is that the different attitude of these different NY restaurant and Greek restaurant (correct me if I’m wrong here is somewhere in Vouliagmeni), made you feel so different!!! Greece is cool!!! We can be totally sarcastic for ourselves, cause no matter if we feel bad due to crisis, we proofed as people that everything can be done. Bottom line “ΟΛΑ ΓΙΝΟΝΤΑΙ”. This is for sure and I am really surprise with the above comment of Mr Adamopoulos.
Self sarcasm and a friendly smile can do a lot of things….and make a brand that has no great advantages (quality, service, price etc) a LOVE brand. Βecause they can create memories…you compared the two incidents…the night at New York you went back home angry…the night at Vouliagmeni you came back smiling remembering the maitre d answer and the look of the “jerk” waiter….and laughed about it and loved it because even in chaos harmony can be found. Greece as a brand should capitalize on that…you incident is much more powerful than All time classic….