A Primer For Restaurant Success: It Starts At Your Door With A Warm Smile And Welcome! | By J. Ragsdale Hendrie
By name and location, Wild Willy’s is an anomaly. Situated on Route 1 in York, Maine, this dining emporium welcomes travelers on the first leg of the coastal connector to further charming seaside communities; it nestles up to the likes of Lobster Shantys, Whale Watchers, Art Galleries, Antiques and their Maine ilk. What is this Wild Willy’s? A frontier redux, a saloon, a C&W dance hall, and what is it doing in York, or for that matter, Portland, Rochester, NH or Watertown, MA? Let me share my discovery: it is flourishing, cash registers singing, patrons loving the experience, and the owner brimming with glee!
Seven out of ten restaurants fail, so this is not a business for the faint hearted. William’s Credo is straightforward – Risk and Reward go hand in hand. You have to take a risk, so stop the whining. It is dedicated, hard work, and you must be determined to drive success. And, you must have a vision, the story you wish to transport through the dining experience. You create the Brand.
He is a firm believer in the personal touch, and he notes that many restaurants rely solely on advertising, which hypes the expectation, where the actual experience often does not equal the promise. That is why he has kept Wild Willy’s simple. Upon arrival, the building looks like a burnished road house, hardly shabby but certainly unpretentious. The pine interior features booths, comfortable traffic flow, an easy system for ordering, and an ambiance which is neither faux, fake or fobbish.
Yes, you are welcomed at the door, and that makes you feel very good. It is not the Cheer’s, “Hello Norm”. It is more subtle in its sincerity, Down East, eh? But, you know you are wanted and appreciated. Then, you look at the menu on the wall. Burgers - fresh, hand made Certified Angus Beef; French Fries made from Maine potatoes; frappes and ice cream featuring Gifford’s Famous Ice Cream of Maine; standard sodas, some beer and wines, and then some sasparilla and even freshly squeezed lemonade and Lime Rickeys.Simple menu, prime ingredients, regional prominence. And, then you are thanked and wished well, as you leave.
This is a system and a story which delivers. One interesting indicator of the Customer Satisfaction is the “Tip Jar”, overflowing and must be emptied several times during the day. Remember, the customer places the order and the staff merely brings the order to them. The tips are normally placed there, as the Guest leaves. It must be something in the air! As Williams summarizes the typical experience at Wild Willy’s, “I listen and discover what our customers expect, and then I figure out how to exceed that. That is the Wild Willy’s Brand.”
Williams is not the retiring type. After a career in the Packaging Industry and experience directing several McDonald’s franchises in the Boston area, he translated his craft and skill set into a thriving restaurant business, where he has designed his own licensing system and empowered his franchisees. He understands Brand Awareness, that the Brand and the Experience is everything from the production system and menu to all the customer sees, senses and feels. The fresh squeezed Lime Rickey is value added. They are buying the Brand. Learn from a master and enjoy the Wild Willy’s Experience!
The author, in his travels, often spots something unique and wants to learn more. He is also a Hospitality Consultant and encourages you to visit:
John R. Hendrie