I remember coming home from college during the summers, and my dad would always take me to get a good old-fashioned Texas burger. The place was an old converted Denny’s Restaurant. I can assure you that when Denny’s was operating there, they did not have the “problems” this restaurant had. And I mean good kinds of problems! The parking lot was always packed full of cars. Sometimes you had to park across the street at a grocery store and then trek across a busy street to get there. Once inside the restaurant, the atmosphere was electric, music, lots of talking, and people waiting to find a seat.
The owner was simply known as Johnny. He had long black shaggy hair, pressed jeans, and always had a t-shirt on for attire. He was a genuine 50 something hippie. Big smile, earrings on both ears, and some facial hair. Johnny was the attraction, though his burgers were one of a kind and very good. His stage was the inside of the restaurant. No kidding, he remembered everyone’s name and he had a way of putting a smile on your face. He made you feel like a million bucks. It was fun just watching him interact with everyone. Johnny had a way of compelling people to watch him. I think it was so they could feel the heightened emotion and sense of expectation in his “show”. He never once sold you on the menu or remarked that he had the best burgers in Texas. He just told stories and painted a picture that made you feel part of the story. He told all kinds of stories, current events, music, politics, and of course football.
I suspect that everyone was there for the same reason my dad and I were, and it wasn’t just because we were hungry. We wanted to be taken on a journey, to have an experience. Johnny didn’t try to convince us he had the best burgers in town; he just changed how we felt when we were there. We were there for the story.
I guess it’s true people buy the fortune and not the cookie. We buy the experience, not just the raw ingredients. Maybe the time has come to stop trying to convince people about our products and services but invest our time and effort into our story. A story that is compelling, memorable, and makes our customers want to share and talk about it. Thank you Johnny.
By the way, Johnny sold the restaurant many years ago to a chain and parking is no longer a problem.