It’s Jack’s Place. It’s Steve’s Diner. Whatever or whoever’s place it is, it’s better than Food Incorporated’s place, and that makes all the difference.
We were upstate for a wedding, staying in Glens Falls, N.Y., last week. After a wonderful dinner at Jack’s, a small family restaurant, we asked the concierge for a recommendation for an all-day breakfast place. She referred us to what she said was a good diner. She was wrong; it was a great diner. Perfection in almost every way, it showed what the difference between “making a living” and “making a killing” is all about.
There was no loud music to drive diners out of the place. The old-fashioned, wall mounted, booth juke boxes were pleasingly playing everything from AC/DC to ZZ Top and even included some oldies and standards from crooners like Frank Sinatra. This family owned and operated spot was in top notch condition and shining like a new set of hubcaps. Steve’s sisters were running it and it meant the world to them, but everyone there was involved. Run by a predominantly female staff with homemade desserts by the owners, no one was cramped for space, but the menu was crowded with food for all reasons. It was a veritable beehive. “We’re a family,” one of the owners said about the employees as she took time from her busy business to meet and greet.
Chatterbox Feb. 19, 2004, “Singing the tea-drinkers’ blues,” talked about tea drinkers at a lovely B&B being fanned off to a self-serve table. No such thing at this gem; thermal pitchers of hot water, tea bags, refills, and honey were all served as smooth as glass. Oh, and there were no prisoners to maple flavored topping. A generous portion of genuine maple syrup was available for a very nominal charge. We were allowed to seat ourselves but there was no putting the customer to work here. It was the royal treatment.
As we allow more to be handled for profit only, we lose the personal touch and negotiating power of the owner. With businesses of personal interest, such is the stellar experience clients get when passion, and not the bottom line, is the name of the game.
Here at Chatterbox we’ve talked about “Made in America” before. It’s an evaporating way of life and the reason is money … what else? America is on a crash course as a growing portion of her population seeks ridiculous wealth. As we reached for the stars, our guidance system went down in flames, and we lost the greatness of small things accumulating into all that is important and enough. We’ve become a nation wherein great personal wealth has become the drive of the business model.