This young man proposing to his now fiance serves as a strong reminder that I am not in the food business, but in the hospitality business.

A couple of weeks ago, Tanner emailed me a request. It was cushioned by apologies and disclaimers, but his motive eventually became apparent. He was ready to ask his lady to be his bride and he wanted to do it at my restaurant, the place they had their first date.

After that, who would not say yes to whatever he had up his sleeve?

To make a long story short, Tanner wanted to set up a scene with that included his girlfriend, their friends and family and have a meal that celebrated the occassion, and he asked if I would put together the food to commenorate it.

Yes, yes and yes.

Years ago I read an article that explained the decline of the railroad industry after the turn of the century. It said the key mistake the railroad executives made at that time was that it did not realize it was not in the railroad business; instead it should have seen that it was in the transportation business. The bigger picture of moving goods and passengers from point A to point B was myopically overlooked as the oncoming airline industry developed. Transportation, not trains, was the future. If the railroad was to compete, it would have seen this coming, and improved its infrastructure, and made train travel more efficient and widespread. Instead, it missed a huge opportunity.

Danny Meyer has this reminder in his book, Setting the Table.

“What really challenges me to get up and go to work every day is my deep conviction about the intense human desire to provide and receive hospitality—well beyond the world of restaurants. Within moments of being born, most babies find themselves receiving the first four gifts of life; eye contact, a smile, a hug and some food. We receive many other gifts in a lifetime, but few can ever surpass those first four. That first time may be the purest “hospitality transaction” we’ll ever have, and it’s not much of a surprise that we’ll crave those gifts for the rest of our lives. I know I do.”

Entreprenuer, do you know what business you are in? You might think you are designing software, but you’re really making your clients business work more efficiently. My new HVAC serviceman, who used to do furnace repair in Toronto before moving here, does more than fix heatpumps; he makes my life easier with prompt, effective service. Understand the value you provide your customer that goes beyond your product. And now is a good time to discern that. It will make all the difference in the world as you build your enterprise.

Congratulations, Tanner and Lauren. Thanks for letting us be a part of your story.

Knowing What Business You Are In

3 thoughts on “Knowing What Business You Are In

  • August 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm


  • August 14, 2011 at 3:30 am

    Tonight's dinner with a dear friend under an August full moon was one of the best I've ever eaten. Every course was spot-on and our server with just a few weeks' experience, was delightful. I can't say enough about this wonderful restaurant.

  • August 14, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    As the father of the groom-to-be, it was amazing to see how Kevin and his team pulled out all the stops for Tanner's proposal night. The ambience of the evening could not have been more perfect, and the celebration of food and drink (served for our party of 14) following "the ask" was an incredible event that is included in every retelling of the story. Though tears of joy were shed over the engagement moment (romance in full glory), I later saw tears again while we were eating and was told, "I'm crying because this food is so great!"

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