Posts Tagged : The Ultimate Customer Experience

The Ultimate Customer Experience, Part 2

To all my blog readers:  Last week, I wrote about my travels across New Brunswick, Canada and our experience at the Coffee Stain Restaurant in Bathurst, New Brunswick.  Here’s Part 2, as I write about how I discovered another Ultimate Customer Experience in the same province, in the community of Sussex.

Part 2: Food and Friends, Inspiring Your Day

After speaking at New Brunswick’s annual Tourism Conference, we worked our way south through New Brunswick on the way back to Maine.  We got off the highway and drove into downtown Sussex looking for breakfast. We were trying to find a non-chain restaurant where we could get a home-cooked meal, but after driving through downtown, we could only find a little bakery. I ran in to ask if there were any other restaurants in town, and the owner told me, “If you want the best breakfast in town, go over there to the Taste and See.”  She walked me outside and pointed across the road, right where we had just driven past.  “It’s right behind that building,” she said.

Isn’t that great, I thought, that owners in this little town actually refer customers to other businesses!

So we drove back to where we’d just passed, and we found the restaurant the baker had pointed at.  From the picture below, would you have missed it, too?


When we entered, we realized the Taste and See Restaurant is really two businesses in one, as the front side of the dining room has a separate area for those who just want to walk in off the street and grab a cup of coffee. That area of the business is called the Stable Grounds Café.


The Taste and See was a much bigger restaurant than the Coffee Stain in Bathurst, but it was filled with as much warmth and good cheer as we’ve ever experienced.  From our booth, we could see the cooks in the kitchen moving rapidly making the customers’ meals, and when the skillet breakfasts we ordered came out (don’t ask me to name everything in it!), they tasted as amazing as they looked.

Here’s something even more amazing: When the regulars came into Taste and See, most of them were greeted by name and often with hugs. It seemed the waitresses knew everyone!

I asked our waitress if they’d mind if I snapped a few photos of their interior décor.  They didn’t mind, so I took a shot of their inspirational quotation chalk board wall, along with their hilarious bathroom signs.

Soon, one of the owners, Janice Gillies, came over to talk to us about how she and her partner, Joanne Barton, opened up Taste and See.  She talked about how they developed their unique recipes and how they created their imaginative interior (where else have you seen painted shutters used to decorate a wall?).

Janice also told us how her staff reaches out to every customer when they come in, like the time she said “Good Morning” to one of her regulars who looked a little down, who came back with a noticeably unhappy response.  Undeterred, Janice told him, “I think you need a hug” and proceeded to wrap her arms around him.  That’s all it took!  He brightened right up and left happy after his meal.

Janice also showed us how every one of her team personalizes every coffee order.  She and her crew write an inspirational quotation on every cup of coffee that goes out of their restaurant. They take a black marker and hand write the quotation on the insulated sleeve that goes around every cup.  Quotations like:  “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass — It’s about learning to dance in the rain” and “The best way to predict your future is to create it” give her customers an uplifting thought as they start their day.

You’re not going to see that at a Starbucks! In fact, I’ve never seen it at any other coffee shop.

Before we left, Janice assembled her crew for a group shot.


I know in the world of economic development, most of the focus goes to attracting and retaining companies that create “primary jobs”, luring in companies that employ greater numbers of people. That’s all well and good, and I understand their importance, but aren’t those the same companies that we read about in the paper who demand tax credits and demand more community dollars, or they threaten to leave the community and move elsewhere?  Sure they are.

Primary jobs are critical, but when it comes right down to it, can you imagine what a community would be like without businesses like the Taste and See Restaurant in Sussex, and the Coffee Stain in Bathurst?

I can’t.

Businesses like these two restaurants convey love and emotion every day to anyone entering their doors.  Businesses like these are our community ambassadors, our most treasured community destinations, and those places where we must take our family and friends who are visiting from out of town.  “Let’s go down to the Taste and See for breakfast,” we say.  And when visitors leave our towns, we know they’ll retell their stories to their friends and say: “You have to go eat at the Taste and See Restaurant when you go to Sussex!”

You’re never hear someone say: “Oh, when you go through that city, make sure you go by and visit that widget factory.”

I’m relatively certain that with these two blog posts, I’ve probably embarrassed the owners by elevating their businesses to this level. I bet they’ll read what I’ve written and not think they’re worthy of my praise.

But make no mistake:  Businesses like these make living in a community worth living in, staying in, and visiting.

If you’d like to learn more about Taste and See, visit their Facebook page by clicking here. I they’re deserving of a Like from all my readers!

Thanks, everyone! Let me know if you enjoyed these last two posts. They’re a little different from what I’ve done in the past.

Jon Schallert

The Ultimate Customer Experience, Part 1

To all my blog readers:  My apologies for missing a couple of blogs these last two weeks.  You see, I’ve been speaking all over North America, but I think I have a story to tell you that will make it worth your wait.  Here’s Part 1.  Next week I’ll wrap up with Part 2.

Part 1: Welcome to the Family

One of the conferences I spoke at was in Bathurst, New Brunswick, Canada, for their province’s tourism association.  If you don’t know where Bathurst is, find Portland Maine on a map and move your finger about 500 miles to the northeast. It’s Canada’s one province that is officially bilingual, so my keynote speech was translated into French, while I spoke from the floor of a hockey arena!  Not many professional speakers get to say that.

Another speaker at the conference talked about Creating a Customer Experience.  The day we left Bathurst, I think we experienced the ultimate Customer Experience in two different restaurants, and here’s my story about the first one.

The day after my keynote, as we were leaving town, we stopped for breakfast at a local downtown Bathurst restaurant called the Coffee Stain.

The Coffee Stain

It’s a small restaurant with local photos, maps, Bathurst mementos, and sailing memorabilia on the walls, and a woman was cooking behind the counter at the grill. She told us to take any seat and soon she brought us menus, speaking to us in English.  As she moved to the next table, she spoke French to them.

Soon it’s apparent that the Coffee Stain is less like a restaurant and more like walking into someone’s kitchen, in the middle of a family meal, with different tables being part of the family. The owner, Olga, takes our order at the table. She brings Peg coffee and I ask her to bring me a Coke when she has a chance.  She returns to the grill, but forgets to ask us something, so she shouts it out from behind the grill where she’s cooking.  As people enter the restaurant she greets them by name, speaks to them in the language they understand, and keeps a constant flow of conversation with all the tables while she prepares all the meals.

Soon Lorne, her husband, comes bouncing in. He brings us our food that Olga’s cooked and asks us if we’d like some of his fresh strawberry preserves. You bet, we say, and as he goes to get it.  I remind him that I wanted a Coke.  Lorne yells to Olga, “Were you supposed to get him a Coke?”  Not missing a beat, Olga says, “Yes, but he said when I had time, and I haven’t had time.”  The restaurant bursts into laughter.

We’re now officially adopted into the Coffee Stain conversation. They ask us where we’re from and we tell them Colorado.  Lorne brings us bright red ceramic Coffee Stain cups for us to take back home.  As Olga and he move from behind the counter to the tables, taking orders, delivering food, running the register, and loading up the truck with a delivery, you realize that every chain restaurant you’ve ever eaten in has less personality, humor, and great food than the Coffee Stain.  And right when you think you’ve seen it all, Lorne yells to a customer as he’s headed to the bathroom: “Be careful in there.” The place erupts again.

And I started wishing we weren’t leaving Bathurst right now, so we could come back for the breakfast routine tomorrow.

We’re convinced as we walk out that it will be tough to find as warm a restaurant as the Coffee Stain as we work our way back to the United States.

But two days later, we’re surprised again.

Check out this blog next week for Part 2 of the Ultimate Customer Experience.


Jon Schallert