Friendly and enthusiastic staff is just one element of a restaurant but it is a powerful way to stand out. When you don’t have a celebrity chef or when you aren’t in the most crowded or most exclusive neighborhood, delivering an enjoyable personal experience is a great way to build a business.
While in Rome last week to deliver a full-day real-time marketing masterclass for my friends at Hi-Performance, I had a free day to explore the city. When lunchtime came I checked out about a dozen places to eat the old school, analog way - wandering around, looking in windows, and checking menus. I chose Cajo e Gajo at Piazza di San Calisto in the funky Trastevere neighborhood because it felt warm and welcoming. I’m glad I did because the fun loving staff made the experience memorable.
Gaetano and Maria took care of me and they clearly love their work. They were always smiling! When they had a free moment they quietly sang along to the music and danced a little too. They laughed and joked with the group of three couples next to me and their enthusiasm got the group to order another bottle of wine. The patter never felt forced or memorized, it was like they were having fun with friends in their home.
When my meal was finished, I was surprised with free Limoncello and cookies for dessert. Wow. What a nice extra.
I asked if I could take a photo of the staff and they struck such a delightful pose that I decided to write this post.
I returned to my hotel that evening and popped over to Trip Advisor to see what other diners thought. I wasn’t surprised to see that Cajo e Gajo is rated #102 of 10,163 Restaurants in Rome. That’s top one percent! It’s interesting that nearly every one of the first few pages of the 6,531 reviews included words like “friendly” and “kind” to describe the staff, usually before people even talked about the food.
In a world where we have begun to expect poor service, when we are treated well it is a joy. And it is good for business too.