15 minutes of fame can kill you

I love food. And I love all kinds of food from swanky fancy meals to hotdogs and fries. So it should not be a shock to anyone that I love the Food Networks show, “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” Hosted by Guy Ferri. I am such a fan that anytime I am traveling to a new city or even cities I have been to in the past I look on the web site flavortownusa.com to see if any of the places that were on the shows are there and I try my best to get to them. This little “hobby” has led me to some amazing food discoveries, the Red Iguana in Salt Lake City, Pats BBQ in Salt Lake City, Magnolia Cafe in Austin Texas, Marietta Diner in Marietta Georgia.

But then I was planning a trip to Maine and I saw the episode on The Porthole, in portland Maine. Here, you watch the segment and see if you are not just drooling at the thoughts of the food there.

So, I talked the family into trying the place and we showed on a Wednesday summer afternoon in Portland, hungry from a long flight and we were excited to try the place. I took a picture of the sign to add to my facebook collection of Triple D ( Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives) adventures and entered the place. The chef from the segment could been seen in the kitchen and I was geeking out at being there and even saw the “Guy ate here” sign on the wall. So we waited to be seated for our turn to try the tasty treats, and we waited, and we waited. After a good 15 mins of standing there while the staff whisked back and forth they finally took notice we were there and told us to sit anywhere. It seems they had a hostess stand outside if you wanted outside seating but if you wanted inside it was a free for all. So we sat…..and waited some more. Another 15-20 mins passed before someone from the staff graced us with their presence. The family and I kept getting more and more frustrated as the time went by. Normally I would have already walked out, but we really wanted to try the food. After some dismissive comments from the waitress about the delay we got up and left. I was very disappointed.

The problem with having your business profiled on a national stage like that is the expectations that are set for people that see that and then seek you out, expecting not only the great and amazing products they see but a great level of customer service as well. We did manage to give the Porthole another try a few days later on our way back through town and yes the food was very good, but the service was still slow and there was this “you are lucky we let you eat here” attitude in the place. I will not be going back there again. Promises of excellence that are empty or fall short of that expectation are failures, pure and simple. It matters not if you now think you are great because of what you did in the past, or because the one day a film crew was there you had the staff be polite and attentive. What matters is how you treat the current customer, and how you treat the next one.

Too often you see businesses that may have been these fantastic companies in the past, that now are failing to live up to their past standards. Sure these businesses may continue to have some success but they will never be that special company that people talk about on and on to their colleagues and friends. What will happen to them? Some will continue on serving up a mediocre experience and both they and their customers have accepted that, some will fail and shut their doors, few will turn it around.

So if you or your business gets featured and reaches that 15 minutes of fame are you going to try and just ride on the coattails of that fame? Or will you say…ok that was cool… what are we going to do next to improve upon that. That is where the challenge and real fun is.

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