I often say that “the restaurant business is one of a 1000 details and even though your restaurant gets 990 of them right, it’s the 10 you miss that the guest always sees”.   This happens to the best of us but, some restaurants just get it all right! My wife and I had such a dining experience recently in Hailey, Idaho (more on this in a minute). I eat out across the country and it can be Toledo or San Francisco and 9 times out of 10, I get what I call an “Order Taker”. She may be perfectly friendly but has not been trained or care enough to tell me “what’s great” and what she thinks I would enjoy in her restaurant.   Yes, this is called Suggestive Selling and we have all heard of it. Problem is far too many full-serve restaurants fail to grasp and execute this most important of concepts. You see, your customers are often first time visitors to your restaurant (you want them to become regulars) who know nothing about what’s special, what they’ll really enjoy.  It may be a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion and guests may not be looking for more than good food and drink, but if you truly want to succeed in this business, its up to you and your entire staff to give them more! In my opinion servers (and really any front of house person) who don’t know their products and don’t make suggestions are actually doing their guests a “Dis-service’.

There’s more. Today in this internet crazy world, more than likely your diners or potential new customers are checking your online reviews. As restauranteurs, we’re proud of our restaurants, our staffs and what we’ve achieved. But, we’re also very close to them and its easy to be biased into thinking we do it all right. No restauranteur can neglect to follow and respond to their own reviews. Don’t take negative reviews personally, take them seriously and correct every detail no matter how slight. All 1000 are important.

Now on to that amazing experience…

The place is called “Zoe 75” and it began with the ambiance… walking in to a very inviting space, the wall coverings, décor, intimate seating, and creative lighting all consistently spoke to the concept’s Asian Fusion cuisine. We stopped in without a reservation and the place was quite busy (on a Thursday evening), but the friendly and attractive hostess immediately found us a cozy seat at the sushi bar amidst all the action.   Within seconds, our server came by, introduced himself, made several drink recommendations and told us he’d be right back for our order. We were in the mood for Margaritas but could not decide. At that very moment, one of the owners came by to greet us and also told us his favorite. We settled on the Agave-Rita and it was a perfectly mixed blend of Corrazon Silver Tequila, Cointreau, fresh Agave and fresh squeezed lime.   Our refreshing drinks set the stage for what was to come.

As we sat at the sushi bar, the sushi/line chef in front of us engaged us in conversation while he worked. I asked “How’s the Unagi”? The typical response in anywhere USA is generally “it’s good”, but he informed that their fish is flown in fresh from Honolulu several times per week. The menu had several mouthwatering choices and again, our line chef made two suggestions that were spot on… we shared the Unagi as an appetizer and settled on the Togorashi encrusted Ranch Steak and Chilean Sea Bass with wasabi mashed potato. All were expertly prepared with undescribably delicious taste profiles.

Consistency is very important across any restaurant and it was evident that Zoe 75 was on top of its game and firing on all cylinders.   The staff was well trained, knowledgable and cared to please. We enjoyed every bite and pleasantly watched other diners across the restaurant enjoy similar experiences.