Wild California uni at the slanted door (on the house)

It’s on the house

TL;DR Giving away some of your products to your engaged customers will have a positive effect on them, the people in their vicinity, and their impression of you.

My wife, Steph, is a food blogger and soon to be chef. She’s created one of the best food blogs on the planet, Lick My Spoon. It’s a place for all things delicious, where her hungry readers consume food porn and the amazing stories she has captured, given her access to restaurants, chefs, and really delicious food.

Sunday night we had a “media dinner” at The Slanted Door, a modern Vietnamese restaurant at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. The food was delicious, staff was super friendly, and the ambiance was inviting and classy without being too fancy.

For those that don’t know what a “media dinner” is, it is basically a dinner where Steph and I eat for free (but always leave a generous tip). If the experience is great, she snaps photos and writes about the experience. If the experience is not so great, Steph doesn’t write anything (if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all). It’s a perfect example of a symbiotic relationship.

It’s become the norm for us to have things brought to the table “on the house” or “compliments of the chef”. Usually this is a way for the chef to show off a few other dishes that we ignored on our ordering. Either way, it’s fantastic because we get to try something new and we feel special.

At The Slanted Door, I noticed that servers were discretely giving out dishes to other guests of the restaurant as well, not just food bloggers. It dawned on me how amazing that strategy is and here’s why:

  1. Guests are happy and genuinely delighted with a nice surprise. I know I was when the uni arrived at our table (see picture above).
  2. The happy energy from the guests is passed onto other guests thus raising the overall ambiance and energy of the restaurant.
  3. New guests sitting down or walking through to their seat, get to see what is on the table and will most likely “have what the other guest is having”.
  4. Servers make more on tips (one example of where mo’ money doesn’t equal mo’ problems).
  5. “On the house” desserts make paying the bill a bit more enjoyable.

I’m willing to bet that the impression the customers leave with is a happier one and more likely to become a loyal customer.

At Sincerely, we have an app called Sesame (think, Open Sesame…followed by a magical experience), which allows customers to send beautifully curated themed gift sets. Recently, we sent some of our best and most recent Sesame customers a free cookie box. We just wanted to thank them for taking a chance on us and allowing us to help make their world a more thoughtful one. I mean isn’t it time for the gift givers to get something nice? We’ve already gotten a bunch of positive feedback, repeat orders, and we couldn’t be happier.

As a final note, I’ll leave you with a piece of simple advice from one of the thought leaders in the hospitality and restaurant space and one of my role models, Danny Meyer:

You get more when you give more.