When I moved to New York from Los Angeles, my fiancé had to spend some time explaining how to prepare for the weather.  One important point she made was one of managing umbrellas.  She told me that during the rainier months umbrellas are in abundance and that I shouldn’t bother spending a lot of money on any one umbrella. It was likely I’d leave it somewhere, and it was just as likely that I would find other umbrellas lying about that other people had left behind.  So one could say that there is an understood umbrella exchange program in New York.  So I purchased one on the cheap, and made sure I did not get emotionally attached to this or any other umbrella.

Over the months however, I noticed a unique umbrella in our bin of randomly bought drugstore cheapies.  It had a cool wooden handle that shaped in to a ducks head.  It also looked considerably more costly than the plastic crap I had been buying.  I asked my fiancé about how this anomaly made it in to our bin of mediocrity, and she explained that this was a special umbrella that she had had for quite some time.  Through the weeks I noticed that she made a special effort to make sure this umbrella was not lost, and she was even specific about when she would take the duck head umbrella out and about.  It was clear that there was a big exception to the umbrella theory she had shared with me before.

How can we create this type of value in our restaurants? How can we present our dishes in a way that people see the value in what they are paying for them?  One way is to sell them for cheap…the all too popular “value meals”, but as you can see from the story above cheap does not build loyalty.  A better way may be to focus on less dishes and make them with the best ingredients possible.  Make your food special.  Customers will pay more for something special.  They will also continue to come back for something special.





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