A letter to all staff:
There is nothing more disappointing than being catfished by what you see online. Whether it’s a location photographed at the perfect angle, a perfectly garnished cocktail or a plate of enticing food – if it doesn’t look or taste the way you expected, there will always be a lingering disappointment, even if it is slight.
Just today I was chatting with a server who said she had the best pina colada of her life at a poolside bar. When I went to take her suggestion, I was unbeknowningly the last drink of last call at that register, so when I was handed my drink I had a shriveled orange garnish from the bottom of the prep bowl and a drink with such thick ice the paper straws immediately went soft trying to suck through the first 2”. I gave up, disappointed that my drink experience was not only not worth the price tag, but that I didn’t have the experience the suggestor or the visionary wanted me to.
I think a lot about experience dining because it is what I enjoy, and what I visualize for the businesses I have built. The hardest thing about being a business founder is trusting the people we hire to execute the experience for every single customer.
When I was about 9, my grandma used to pay me to stuff statement envelopes for the dental office she worked for. I would fold the letters, place them in envelopes making sure the address was showing in the window and place the stamp in the corner. She would remind me every month to make sure they were folded perfectly and the stamp was on straight. She would say, “even though you do 300 of these, each person only gets one and that is their only experience with how we represent our business.” It seemed a little dramatic to me that a stamp represented the integrity of a business back then, but I now understand. Every single piece was part of their branding. If stamps were all willy nilly on the front of the envelope, what did that say about how we managed files, handled their accounts, and above all them as humans. To some it probably wouldn’t matter, they didn’t notice the envelopes were perfect every time. But imagine who would have noticed if they were not?
I carried that philosophy with me in many aspects of my life. From making 300 wedding cupcakes or cakepops, to handling raw milk on my farm, and now two completely different dining experience restaurants. Imagine preparing, baking, frosting and garnishing 300 cupcakes, it’s redundant. As a group placed on a display table, you can hide a few ugly ones. But what about the people who waited their turn until after the mad dash to the dessert line? Those people only have the ugly ones left to choose from and that is their single cupcake experience.
I say this to drive home the fact that there are probably things you believe overhead management is overkill on. But we picked each garnish, each glass for each drink, each fork and knife and plate and napkin. We spent countless hours choosing the most invisible things in order to create a full experience for each and every person who walks through our doors. So do the garnish perfect every time. Use the correct serving plate or glass every time. Plate each meal as if it is for a photo. In the moment, you may not think cutting a corner is a big deal, but to the person on the receiving end, it may be.
3 thoughts on “The art of an experience.”
Thank you for sharing this letter, what a great reminder and example.
I work in theatre, and we have a saying that every audience member at every single performance deserves the same show.
Yes! Exactly the same as that!!