Editor's note: This exclusive series to Nation’s Restaurant News provides C-level insights into the sales and traffic data from clients subscribing to Black Box Intelligence, a financial performance benchmarking company. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of Nation’s Restaurant News.
I open my blog this month with some personal thoughts regarding our industry.
In the past two weeks I completed the preparation and cleanup for Hurricane Sandy that is having such an impact on so many of our friends, families and businesses.
My story is not relevant in terms of destruction, as we experienced more inconvenience and fear in St. Michaels, Md., rather than the devastation that occurred beginning just a few miles north of us on the eastern shore of Maryland. Everyone knows living on or near water in the path of a hurricane you find yourselves adjusting priorities to protect property, pets and families.
By Monday morning we started to feel the effects of the storm's outer band moving on shore. By Tuesday we made it through the very high tide and surge without the havoc we saw with Hurricane Isabel in 2003. Without CNN we didn't know how bad it was for our friends in Delaware north to Massachusetts.
So on Tuesday morning, knowing my family, friends and our property had survived with no real losses, I drove through my neighborhood and town to see what damage had been inflicted on my community. I saw that there were trees and wires down, and there was flooding of the harbor, including our restaurants.
The downtown area had only minor flooding this time, which was a pleasant surprise. All the businesses had been closed since Monday afternoon in preparation for the storm, and the town had few people stirring from the safety and comfort of their homes.
But, to my real surprise, I found our venerable Carpenter Street Saloon open serving a hotjust hours after the worst of the winds and rain had pummeled our town. What a pleasant surprise for a tired and relieved person to discover after the long sleepless night.
I went in to have food, but I got much more. It was full of neighbors gathering to share stories about their night. Trees fallen, roaring winds and eight inches of rain gave many something to share. The chief of police and two of his deputies were having their morning meal after a night of watching over all of us with no sleep.
I sat, watched and listened. It was magic.
Continued from page 1
The cooks, waitresses and the owner all had homes and families to worry about, but they had come in to serve more than a meal; they were serving a nice warm dose of caring hospitality. This is what we do in our industry.
We are the next responders in any tragedy. As soon as the first responders move, we quickly follow to give them and the victims food, drink and the warmth of hospitality that warms the human soul. I know my dear friend Danny Meyer will understand this, as he has so eloquently described the difference between hospitality and service. I know his organization, like so many in New York and New Jersey, are doing everything possible to make a bad situation better through their response and hospitality.
This is going on all over the devastated areas affected by Hurricane Sandy. Our employees, owners, executives and suppliers are just behind the first responders as the next responders to do what we do best: provide food, drink and caring hospitality. From quick service to fine dining, we are there for our communities.
Are we different from other business people? I say yes. While many businesses were closed, our heroes were open, not just serving food and drink, but providing caring hospitality. It felt really good to me as a tired neighbor and a hungry patron to receive this at Carpenter Street Saloon, and it felt even better as a citizen of our restaurant community.
Carpenter Street Saloon in St. Michaels, Md.: You and your team rock!! Thank you.
Please remember to help all of our fellow operators and citizens hit so hard by this storm. Prayers for all those impacted from this horrible event and salute to our brothers and sisters out there helping their communities through their caring hospitality and generosity.
Wallace B. Doolin
Doolin is chairman of Thomas Doolin and Associates LLC, the holding company of People Report, the leader in human capital business intelligence for the restaurant industry and Black Box Intelligence. He is the founder of Black Box Intelligence, a state of the art business intelligence product for the restaurant industry. Additionally, serves as a trustee of the National Restaurant Association and is a past chairman of the National Restaurant Association's Education Foundation. Other current responsibilities include public company board of director service for Caribou Coffee and Famous Dave’s. Previously, Doolin served as CEO of Carlson Restaurants Worldwide and TGI Friday’s, Buca, Inc and La Madeleine.