I just got back from a business trip in Toronto. Monday night I had the privilege of meeting with a terrific restaurateur named Tony who really understands what growth and being remarkable is all about.
Tony’s restaurant is an upper mid-scale Italian restaurant – but it’s more than that. It’s a ‘place.’ It’s a place where families go to celebrate. It’s a place where couples go to talk about important decisions. But most of all, it’s a place that just makes you feel at home When I asked Tony how he characterizes his restaurant, he said he calls it a “neighborhood restaurant.”
Tony knows who his customers are. Tony knows why he is successful. Two weeks ago a food critic from one of Toronto’s major newspapers was eating at Tony’s with his family. Tony knew who he was, and Tony knew that he wasn’t from the neighborhood. He asked if he was there for business or pleasure. The writer admitted he was there for business and was going to write an article about the place. Tony asked the writer not to. When the writer asked why, here is the answer he got:
If you write an article about my place, at best it will interest people from outside the neighborhood to come in. They’ll come, but they won’t stay because they are not from the neighborhood. The problem is they’ll take the seats that my regular customers use, and my customers won’t be able to come in and eat when they want to.
When I heard the story, the only thing I could think of was, ‘Wow.’ Most people would kill to get the coverage Tony was about to get, but Tony knew the success would be fleeting and his restaurant would no longer be remarkable – it wouldn’t be the neighborhood’s place.
One more thing, Tony’s restaurant was packed on Monday night – a night when many restaurants don’t even open because so few people go. Wow.
Until next time, Doug