Until last week, I had never eaten at a Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Partly because of proximity. Partly because I couldn't pronounce it. Partly because I'm very happy paying $3.42 for a meal at Taco Bell and don't have much need for a $50 steak.
But when I received an invitation for a free VIP meal at the grand opening of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse...I couldn't resist. Why am I a VIP? Not sure, but it could have something to do with the relationship we've nurtured with the developer who built the restaurant about 10' from our property line. We've worked together to connect our parking lots, add a sidewalk from the church to the restaurant, and share in the cost of landscaping the property line.
I took my gorgeous wife for a lovely evening. Here are some things that impressed me about our experience...
- We waited near the bar for our table along with 60 or 80 other people. I wondered how they would find us when our table was ready. No buzzer. No announcement of names. Somehow they remembered what we looked like and came straight to us when our table was ready. It made me wonder what notes they wrote about us? I'm guessing something like, "Handsome bald man with smokin' hot blonde."
- There were two people serving us all evening.
- Everyone one who spoke to us called us by name. Even the guy filling the water glasses.
- When we got up to use the restroom, upon returning our napkins were re-folded.
- I sat all evening facing the live lobster tank. At one point I could swear I heard some soft, high-pitched yelps, "Help me! Help me!"
- The tables started with white napkins, but at the table next to us they were traded for black napkins as soon as the guests were seated. We heard the guest ask about that, and she was told that it was to color coordinate with their clothes.
- They had TV screens above the urinals in the men's restroom, and a TV in the mirror in the women's restroom.
- The ribeye that I ordered, medium rare, was definitely some of the best I've ever had. Did it taste so good because of the experience, or was it really that good?
Our meal would have cost us $105 + tip -- and that was for a very basic meal with soft drinks. It's not something I'll do every month, but it would make a nice treat perhaps once a year.
Beyond the meal, the experience made me wonder what we can do in the church that hasn't been thought of yet that would "wow" our guests and help drive home how much they matter to God.
Perhaps we give them a bulletin that is color coordinated with the clothes they wore that day :). Now that would be memorable!