Crippled CEO Blog #147:
Little Moir’s Food Shack is my favorite restaurant in Florida.
No — scratch that — in the world.
They serve fish so fresh that each day a new, handwritten menu is printed out and distributed. The formula of delicious crusts around flaky fish over unique salads stays the same, but the ingredients change daily.
Food Shack does not take reservations. On off nights, there’s a 30 minute wait. On busy nights, it can be over an hour. And despite that, my friends and I are still willing to drive an additional hour to go there and wait. That’s how good the food is.
And part of the experience is the wait. You know it’s going to happen, so you’re not taken by surprise or upset when they let you know it’s going to be at least 45 minutes, leaving you to sit on benches or against the wall in the crowded strip mall corridor outside the front door. Oh, did I mention it’s in a strip mall? It is — a hidden gem, with barely a sign. You use that time to chat with your friends, to peruse the day’s handwritten menu and discuss what you should get, and maybe have a beer out on the sidewalk while you wait.
When I learned that they were taking over the space next-door to the restaurant, expanding their footprint, I was giddy. More space meant more tables for people to sit at. This was it. Food Shack without the wait. I contemplated how the food quality would keep up, and part of me wondered if the experience would lose something, but I was still excited about not having to wait in the future, and the prosperity that should be in store for the proprietor, “Little” Mike Moir.
But Mr. Moir is a genius. He didn’t use the space next-door to double the size of the restaurant and eliminate the wait.
He created a waiting room.
Now, when they tell you about the hour long wait, they tell you to go have a seat next door and they will come get you when your table is ready. Connected to the main restaurant, the area next-door became a similarly themed tapas bar that sells drinks and very small plates — tasty snacks to hold you over and specialty beers and cocktails to wash them down with.
Mike Moir knew that he couldn’t continue to produce the high level of quality food if the output suddenly doubled. He also knew, I’m guessing, that he only wanted to serve the kind of customer who loved his restaurant so much that they were willing to wait an hour every time. And when you have a restaurant that’s so popular that it always has a long wait, and the people dining there are all huge fans, you can charge $30 for a generous portion of fish over a remarkable salad in a strip mall giving t-shirt and flip-flop energy to throngs of happy diners in Guy Harvey shirts and Rolex Submariners.
So, if you can’t make the restaurant bigger, and the long wait is a necessary ingredient, then the truly genius thing to do is to make the wait more comfortable while simultaneously increasing your revenue per customer. He already had the people there. Now, he gets to make a lot more money off of them, and they love him for it. Why not serve them beer and snacks while holding them as happy hostages?
It’s genius. Truly. My hats off to you, Mr. Moir. I can’t wait to wait at your restaurant again.
(Do you know who didn’t have to wait in line for an hour last night? Your mom. Your mom also gets a text from me every Sunday with a link to the latest blog post. Send a text to 561-726-1567 with the word CRIP as the message to get a link to the blog as soon as it’s up.
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