WELCOME BACK TO SOUPFLY! And Welcome back home to Las Vegas for us!
Today’s post is going to be a departure from our norm, as I will be sharing with you about our cross-country trek that I, Christoff and my wife, Michelle and the puppies-Lilly and Carly recently made. We ate and shopped at a number of different restaurants and stores and we experienced some good, some great and some poor service along the way. My main purpose for this blog is to highlight and celebrate the good and great Service & Hospitality Professionals that made our journey an enjoyable experience.
So let’s begin. We set out Tuesday morning from Las Vegas at about 4:15 am, puppies securely snuggled into their new comfortable car seat. I don’t know for a fact that it was comfortable-but Lilly and Carly seemed to really enjoy it. We drove through Utah-absolutely beautiful scenery and into Colorado. The weather was clear and sunny and the drive was-thankfully-a success. What do I mean by a success?
Well, in the past, Carly-the brown one-half Yorkie, had a tendency to have anxiety while traveling. This usually meant that eventually, on almost every trip, she would have an upset stomach that would express itself with her throwing up. This would then make the drive a stressful event for me as I would be wondering when is she going to do it. This time, however, she only did slightly and that within the first hour of our trip. The rest of the way she was calm and peaceful. As was Lilly. If you have little puppies that tend toward car anxiety-I highly recommend getting a car seat similar to the one we got for them. You will be so happy that you did.
Our destination goal for day one was Loveland, Colorado. There, we would visit my brother, Mark and his wife Kellie and our friend Jim Edwards, owner of Next Door Food & Drink. We arrived in Loveland after nearly 13 hours of travel. We checked into our room, got Lilly and Carly fed and settled, quickly changed into non-travel clothes and headed out to Next Door. We had happened upon Next Door Food & Drink when we were in Loveland in July, earlier this year. We ate lunch there at that time and we were so impressed with the food-all locally sourced, natural, much of it organic and wonderfully, creatively prepared AND the outstanding service.
We met Jim back in July and our server was Sydney Nelson. Sydney’s style of service is so refreshing. She has a positive upbeat attitude, a warm and friendly personality And she is very knowledgeable about everything regarding the restaurant-the food sourcing, the preparation, the wine and cocktails, the materials used in the decor of the restaurant-much of it reclaimed and re-purposed. She absolutely knows her stuff! There are some servers (we’ve all met) who have wonderful, pleasant personalities and they seem to think that that excuses them from actually having service skills and being knowledgeable. Not so, with Sydney. She is a true Hospitality professional in every sense of the word.
I was so impressed with our experience that the following day I suggested to Michelle that we return to eat at Next Door again to see if they are consistent. So we did, and they were. We had a different server that day, Jim Edwards, the owner was not in but everything was excellent, AGAIN. To me, this is a testament to Jim’s leadership There are many servers who excel at what they do but they work at restaurants where the leadership is either lacking or non-existent. When one goes to those places-it’s really a hit and miss situation. There is no consistency-because no standards are set, management is not engaged and little thought is put into who is hired. Jim Edwards has done a wonderful job at creating a culture of caring Service and Hospitality Professionals. And the food is great as well.
This experience led me to ask both Sydney and Jim if I could interview them for my book-that was all back in July. Of course, I did interview them both for my book, Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service. It was such a pleasure getting their take on what constitutes “WOW!” service and how to achieve it. So, I was eager to connect with them again, since now the book is finally nearing a release date.
This time our server was Andy Stephenson, who had been our server the 2nd day back in July. He, too, was outstanding in his affable manner, his knowledge and recommendations and overall excellence in service. And guess what? Unlike Sydney, who says she’ll probably always be in the industry in some capacity because she loves it so much, Andy is planning on pursuing other career paths, however, there is no “I’m just doing this til I get a real job” attitude or mentality with him. Andy truly seems to care about his guests and endeavors to give them a great dining experience. Just as the subtitle of my book states-“Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service”, Next Door Food and Drink in Loveland, Colorado, while NOT a fine dining establishment-it’s a semi casual place, they prove that 5 Star Service does not necessarily mean white table cloths, tuxedoed servers and fine china. Because they have none of that. What they do have though, is a team of people that pursue excellence on a daily basis and they create WOW! dining experiences for their guests.
Thanks, Jim, Sydney, Andy and the rest of the staff at Next Door Food & Drink! What a great start to our cross country journey.
After an overnight in Loveland, Colorado-we headed North and East to Minnesota to visit my daughter, Kimberly and her husband, Jesse. A long 13 hour drive through Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota and finally arriving in chilly-ok, actually, COLD- Minneapolis, Minnesota at 3:30 am. Although it was COLD, the days were sunny and there was no snow until the day after we left Minnesota. Thank you, Lord!
When in Minneapolis, one place that is an absolute Must Visit- is the Mall of America. It is HUGE. It has an actual Theme Park inside with numerous roller coasters, theme rides and an aquarium. There are over 400 stores and the Mall employs over 12,000 people. If you’ve never been-I encourage you to do so. It’s pretty amazing.
Our first day in Minnesota, Michelle and I toured the mall and ate lunch at Tucci Benucch. Our server, Laslo, from Hungary did a good job. He made some great drink suggestions for us. Michelle had a white peach bellini made with all natural, fresh peach puree and I had a blood orange Negroni. I only started drinking Negronis recently. I think it was my friend, Greg DaLuz, that turned me on to them. A Negroni is typically made with equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and campari. What I love is that every place has their own take on a Negroni. The blood orange one at Tucci Benucch was a wonderful new rendition of the classic.
While at Mall of America, we experienced great service and hospitality at some of the stores like–Callisters Christmas, where we were warmly welcomed and greeted by the staff and manager. They were very friendly and helpful, assisting us in finding the perfect Christmas ornaments for some family members.
Also, at Marbles-The Brain Store, the retail staff were very pleasant. They exhibited the right balance of offering assistance yet not being overbearing or stalking as is often the case at some retail establishments.
Then there was the woman at a baby store where we shopped. It is probably more properly called a baby clothing store-as they don’t actually sell babies there. This retail saleswoman was not very friendly, was marginally helpful and acted as though she didn’t like people. Although she was not very pleasant, we didn’t allow that to damper our excitement as we were shopping for clothes for our first grandbaby-to arrive in May of 2015! (Blessings to my daughter Kimberly and her husband, Jesse)
One would think that someone who works in such a place might actually have a joy for life because their customers are all people who either are expecting a child, have a baby or have a family member that does. That, to me, should shout positivity, upbeatness, joy, happiness, etc. Instead, we were met by someone who should maybe be working at a dill pickle factory.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-if you are in the service and hospitality industry-(and guess what? retail is included in that) it is imperative that you have a positive upbeat attitude. Just as people eat out at a restaurant for reasons other than just to consume food-they want an experience. So, too, when someone is shopping in your store they may be there to purchase an item that they want or need but they also would like to have it be a pleasant experience. You, the service professional, the hospitality professional, the customer service professional, the retail professional, the sales professional-whatever category you happen to be in-you are there for your guest, customer, client. Your job is much more than just ringing people up and bagging their purchase item.
As we are entering the holiday season, I encourage you to stop and pause for a moment and put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Think to yourself-“What can I do to make this a pleasant and enjoyable experience for them?” One suggestion-you might start with a smile and a genuine “Good afternoon, welcome to ABC company.” If you say, “Hi, welcome to ABC company” but you never look up and actually make eye contact with your guest, what’s the point of mouthing the words? You are not actually welcoming your customers. You have no heart in it. If instead, you come to work with a positive attitude and a sincere desire to provide great service-it will come back to you, manifold. You reap what you sow. Sow some kindness, some happiness and some cheer. And watch it return to you in abundance.
Soupfly Travel Adventures will continue in our next post. We still have 3000 miles to cover and many experiences to share with you!
Thank you for reading. I am truly grateful for all my readers. I want to welcome new readers from Lithuania!! How very exciting that Soupfly continues to travel the globe!
I want to thank all of you who have pre-ordered my book-
Gettting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service.
I invite the rest of you to go to my website and pre-order your copy today at the introductory price of only $20.00. I am only able to accept domestic (United States) pre-orders at this time.
Go here to order your copy of Getting to WOW! Everybody WINS with 5 Star Service :
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Cheers and God Bless you all!
Christoff J. Weihman
Las Vegas, NV