We checked into the Lake Lure Inn. Built in 1927, the antique North Carolina hotel served as command central for the making of the movie Dirty Dancing. You now can stay in the Patrick Swayze Suite or the Jennifer Gray Suite. Furnished with exquisite period furniture with meticulous attention to detail, guests feel elevated, enchanted and enriched.
We had dinner in their Veranda Restaurant overlooking the full moonlit lake only a stones through away from our front-row table. The staff was all locals from the rural small NC mountain town. They reached way beyond their plain heritage in a noticeable effort to create a sense of elegance. After seating us at our reserved table, the maitre de presented our menus, wine list, and graciously said, “Hope ya’ll enjoy”–not a phrase you’d hear at a five-star Boston restaurant. Nevertheless, we felt very special. There was an earnest effort to take the experience much, much higher than Nettie’s Diner down the street.
Why can’t every service experience be a Lake Lure Inn moment? The difference between the Inn and Nettie’s Diner was primarily a deliberate attempt to upgrade the experience. Someone decided that this classy hotel setting should have an equally classy experience. Knowing they could not afford to import a Ritz-Carlton Hotel trained wait staff, they entrusted their valuable reputation to young people recruited from the local Burgers and More. And, it absolutely worked.
The next morning we were in too much of a hurry to wait for their Sunday brunch with eggs Florentine and mountain trout. So, we stopped at Nettie’s for scrambled eggs, bacon, grits and biscuits. The food was just as we expected—nothing out of the ordinary. But, the menu, the hostess and the waitress all needed upgrading, the window beside our table needed polishing, and the plants needed watering. As we looked at the Lake Lure Inn in the distance, we suddenly realized had we first stopped at Nettie’s it might not have been so non-elegant. The Lake Lure Inn had altered our service expectations and Nettie’s would never be the same again…nor, would any other service provider.