Saturday, October 15, 2011

Embrace your "back of house" and create memorable experiences

On weekends when I am batching it alone, one of the things I often do is get take-out from either a favorite Thai place (yellow curry), or a great Italian place. You see, Pam doesn't do curry, and gluten in the pasta doesn't much like her either, so curry and a great pasta dish are things I don't often enjoy, reserved for the weekends she's in Canada with family.

Tonight my to go of choice was Italian, from the best little crazy Italian place, a few miles from my house and right near the beach, Trattoria I Trulli.

I have never been to Tuscany, but I imagine this place is what a real Tuscan villa would be like. Tables crammed close together. Waiters rushing back and forth, turning sideways in the tight space to avoid crashing into each other or their guests. It's loud. It's always busy. There are never enough tables, even when they spill out onto the sidewalk.

Tonight as I sipped my glass of pinot noir at the bar while waiting for my dinner I marveled at how they use their "back of house" to create a sensory front of house experience that explodes with textures, sounds, and color. The bartender handles to go orders, in addition to opening wine, mixing drinks, and preparing after dinner "two decaf cappuccinos" ordered up in passing as a waiter drops of the plates from a meal just finished and seconds later re-appears with four wine glasses, a basket of bread and dip, and wisks a bottle of red off the edge of the bar.

Waiters come and go, through the bar, seen here in this quick photo, from the kitchen to the restaurant. In my short 15-minute wait I witnessed numerous near collisions, and yet never did the pace, the energy, or the passion for what they do slow.

I love this place. It makes me think about how many other "back of house" opportunities could be embraced as part of the front of house effect to create more memorable experiences, not just in dining, but in other businesses too.

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