It means doubling dishwashing duty, but there’s an upscale restaurant in Phoenix that delivers a trick that wows its customers.
When guests are halfway through their cocktails, servers at Hillstone (formerly Houston's) re-glass the drinks. So before any chilled cocktail has time to reach room temperature, it’s re-chilled with a new glass—from the freezer.
It's customer service that nets repeat business. Manager Vincent Tautu says it is an unexpected flow of service that is simply something the restaurant likes to do to please the patrons.
If you’re looking for ways like this to beef up the “wow factor” at your restaurant, here are five more tricks that work for other restaurants and can be applied in some way at your venue, too:
Make 'em wait, happily
Restaurants that don’t take reservations can keep customers waiting in line if they keep them entertained.
Engage them with free food like they do at Onesto Pizzeria and Trattoria in St. Louis, Missouri. Onesto offers canapés for the wait, garlic bread knots when seated, and the pizza-making station at the front of the restaurant puts on a pizza dough hand-tossing show for the entire evening.
Of course, if you have no way to entertain your customers, you can opt for a service like Textaurant.com to please customers who might walk away if they have to wait 30 minutes or more. Instead of waiting in line, Textaurant.com lets patrons wait online. They sign up on the site, add a name to the mailing list, and get a text when the table is ready. Founder Josh Bob says he has 20 restaurant chains, including Red Robin, using the service that lets customers wait where they want, on their own terms.
Personalized birthday greetings
Jake’s and Jake’s Grill in Portland, Oregon, part of the McCormick and Schmick's enterprise, make special menus for customers’ birthdays and other special events. They print names (or other greetings) at the top of the menu, personalizing the dinner celebration.
Offer a special slice
Mia's Pizza and Eats in Cumming, Georgia, gets big compliments for offering the "kid cut" on pizza pies. When a customer orders a slice for a child, they cut the slice into small bites for small mouths. “Three slices with the pizza cutter in both directions yields these cute little diamond shaped bites that are perfect for the little ones,” says Clori Rose-Geiger, who co-owns the restaurant with her husband. It’s how they’ve always cut their daughter’s pizza. “Now customers ask for it by name,” she says.
Create customer connection
The Bistro Group, a T.G.I. Friday’s franchisee, recently ran a drink mix contest in its 31 restaurants, asking consumers to submit a favorite drink recipe. The winner received a party for 10, and the franchisee announced the winner’s name and drink of choice on a six-foot banner inside the restaurant. Not only did the special customer get a celebration but also community recognition—and something both parties could tweet about online.
By Jackie Dishner