How one restaurant creates a memorable experience

My wife and I had dinner recently at a great Italian restaurant in Wilmington NC called Roko. After our first visit (on my wife’s birthday), we had such a good time that I wanted to not only tell my family/friends about it, but blog about it and share a short list of things they did to make it so good. But I figured I’d wait until we ate there again and see if it was the same. Well we’ve been 3 times now, and for a tiny place in an unassuming strip mall, it’s currently the best dining experience in Wilmington (in my book anyway). While they make is seem so easy to pull off, we know it’s a ton of work to pull off a consistent show night after night.

Here are a few of the things we noticed that created such a great experience…

– Both owners (husband and wife team from Croatia) are apparently there every evening – at the host stand warmly welcoming and chatting with guests, behind the bar helping the bartenders with ice, busing tables, in the kitchen preparing, inspecting and running food to guests. It was fun to watch them. They did not stop moving. I am certain they were sweating, but they definitely didn’t appear to be!

– The owner, who welcomed us when we walked in, told us there would be a wait. She then asked if she could bring us a drink – right there – on a seat next to the host stand. That was cool. Most places, at best, would send us to the already crowded bar.

– The staff were great, provided excellent service and they remembered us. Our server (from our first visit a few months prior) smiled, stuck out his hand and said “Hey, you’re back!”. As packed as they’ve been each time, that was a surprise.

– The restaurant lighting and aroma and sound was spot on the entire time. It made us want to keep ordering more wine and not leave.

– Oh, almost forgot. The homemade dishes are insanely delicious.

If you ask me, the great food was a small part of why we will be going back. Clearly the presence and involvement of the owners in every detail is the reason we had such a good time. They run a great restaurant and have high expectations of their staff. I think this is such a great lesson for any business. It certainly inspires me and our business!