Service Without an Upcharge

It was a small gesture. But, it was one that carried a giant meaning. Plus, it was a detail that played out in many ways from start to finish.

My wife and I had an early morning breakfast at the Huddle House in Clarkesville, GA, a few miles from our river home. Their colorful menu had a favorite of mine—a fluffy western omelet with ham, cheese, bell peppers, and onions. But, I also spotted jalapenos as a 99-cent side item at the bottom of the menu. Being a Texas transplant, my bias is to put jalapenos on just about everything I eat. When the super friendly waitress took our order, I requested the special omelet but without onions and with jalapenos instead of bell peppers. Then, I quickly added:

“I know there is an upcharge to substitute jalapenos for bell peppers which is just fine with me.” Then, I got a nice surprise.

“No, sir. There is no extra charge for the jalapenos, especially since you are deleting onions and bell peppers. Besides, we want you to absolutely love your Western omelet.”

Visions of engaged, empowered employees danced through my head. It made me take note of their other restaurant features. Every employee made every single guest their personal responsibility. And, the place was almost full. There was a greeter stationed at the front door to warmly welcome new guests, escort them to their tables, and take their drink orders. When no one was entering, the greeter filled in behind the counter. The restaurant manager came through a couple of times to ask if everything was great (not okay, mind you, great)! I got two coffee refills from two different wait staff.  And, when it came time to pay my bill, two wait staff members competed to see who was going to check me out.  As we exited, several employees invited us back again.

There is an antique saying that goes, “Everything happens at the beginning.” It means how experiences start can be a solid peephole into how they will likely be throughout. And, my happy beginning started with Ms. No Upcharge. She lassoed my affinity and will no doubt be there to collect more of my funds when I enthusiastically return.

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