Recently my wife and I went to R. Thomas, a really funky eclectic restaurant on Peachtree Street in Atlanta. It is one of our favorite places to eat.
The owner, Richard Thomas, is in his 80’s and we still see him at the restaurant all the time. When asked why they decided to be open 24/7, his answer is priceless. He tells that when the restaurant was just getting started, they lost the only key to the door so they just decided to not close. Richard’s resume is quite impressive. He had been the President of Operations for KFC in the early 1970‘s and oversaw over 600 stores. He had made millions with KFC until he had a transformational meeting with nutritionist Donna Gates. Donna convinced him he had been poisoning Americans for decades with his fast food. He then decided in his next venture he would do his best to bring healthy food to his customers table. And that’s what R. Thomas is all about.
While Jane and I were eating there, we decided to check in on Facebook. That’s where you post a picture and a brief description of where you are and what you are doing. I mentioned we were both having Thai Express Bowls and how much we loved the restaurant. It was just a perfect end to a really wonderful day. As we were waiting for our bill the waitress came by the table and told us it was on the house. We were shocked. She said the General Manager had called and said to comp us.
We thanked our server and left. On the way home we realized this was just one more way R. Thomas stands out as a truly unique restaurant. They gifted us with the meal as a way to say thanks for being loyal customers who talk about R. Thomas. It was just the most serendipitous experience for us.
I have been thinking about that day a lot lately. I think there are some lessons that are applicable for all who are wanting to build a customer base or following. Obviously having a unique brand that constantly delivers at a high level is important. Sometimes giving something away is a powerful way to communicate your commitment to your followers.
And, surprising customers with an unexpected gift is a great way to build brand loyalty.
Jane and I felt so good when we left R. Thomas. We are true fans. We are already planning our next trip back to this fabulous Atlanta eatery. We also are telling our friends about the great experience they will always find there. R. Thomas just does things right. We knew that way before the generous comped meal. And when you least expect it they surprise you with their generosity and it makes you love them even more. If you are in Atlanta, I urge you to check them out. You will be happy you did.