Maxwell Stephens

The Secret Recipe to Excellent Hospitality

Eleven Madison Park is the world’s top-rated restaurant, known for its delicious and imaginative cuisine that is near perfect in execution. In early 2010, the owner had a breakthrough moment while clearing plates from a table. He overheard the diners discussing their disappointment that they had not tried a classic New York hotdog during their culinary tour of the city’s best restaurants. With a sudden inspiration, the owner ran to a hotdog cart, convinced his head chef to prepare one for the guests, and served it to them with the words, “So you don’t leave with any culinary regrets.” The guests were overjoyed by the unexpected treat.

This experience taught the owner a valuable lesson about hospitality – it’s not just about serving delicious food, but about making guests feel seen and welcomed, giving them a sense of belonging. Restaurants are not just places to dine, they are places to create memories. Excellent hospitality requires taking what you do seriously while not taking yourself too seriously.

By incorporating this kind of personal touch, guests will be happier and your team will have greater creative autonomy. Instead of simply executing the head chef’s vision, they can come up with their own ideas to enhance the guests’ experience.

The hotdog may have only cost $2, but the impact it had was invaluable. It doesn’t take a large budget to bring this kind of hospitality into your culture. It’s not the gesture itself that matters, but the emotions it evokes.

Simply providing high-quality products and efficient service is no longer enough. It’s the emotions we evoke in others that matter the most. Unreasonable hospitality is what sets Eleven Madison Park apart and has helped the restaurant achieve its goals. The next time you’re building relationships with coworkers or serving others, strive for unreasonable hospitality. Give people a sense of belonging and create memories that will last a lifetime – it will transform your business and bring happiness to those around you.

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