I steal menus. I’ve been stealing them for years — ever since restaurants stopped giving away matchbooks. I don’t steal from every restaurant — just the special ones, the ones that have a story. My most cherished menu is from Windows on the World, the lounge that was atop the World Trade Center. I’ve another from The Plaza Hotel’s Palm Court where I took my goddaughter Clare and her mother for high tea. Clare was just six months old and I wanted to be the first man to take her to The Plaza. And there’s the menu from London’s Savoy Hotel where I took my friend Anthony to celebrate his premiere at the Barbican Theater.
My menu collection, my collection of short stories really, is displayed on the walls of my dining room and, as with every great story, serves as a wonderful conversation opener!
I have my menus framed at The Canvas Peddler over in North Hollywood where Pam has helped me for years. She manages to turn each menu into a work of art.
My niece Mary graduated in May from the U. of Colorado, Boulder. She took us to her favorite breakfast joint, “Snooze,” and, of course, I stole a stained menu. Well, Mary’s now moving into her first apartment back in NYC and as a housewarming gift I decided to have the menu framed.
I went last week to see Pam only to find out that she’s on vacation. Marybeth offered to help me. I recognized her from all my years of going to The Canvas Peddler but presumed she wouldn’t know me. However, as soon as I mentioned the menu, she exclaimed, “I know you!” and proceeded to reassure me by calling me by my name before I could introduce myself and by listing off what I do.
I was blown away. Yes, we chatted over the years when Pam helped me but I’m not so frequent a customer that I’d expect her to remember me. Marybeth just laughed at my amazement saying, “Well that’s the beautiful thing of a being a loyal customer.”
Yes, that’s true but even more I think that Marybeth remembering my name and my collection of menus speaks to her character. It also speaks to the care she and Pam offer to their customers. To the quality of their interest in the people who come to them with their “treasures.”
The legendary Dale Carnegie said that the sweetest sound is the sound of one’s name. I don’t think I ever realized that until Marybeth said my name.
Once again I’m reminded of the core truth that all of business is about relationships. Thank you, Marybeth and Pam, for reminding me of that!
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