Sunny Side Up

Sunny Side Up

from The $6,000 Egg
by Todd & Deb Duncan

One Saturday, my wife, Deb, and I headed out to our favorite restaurant for an early lunch. It's a chic Newport Beach research and development kitchen that experiments with new menu items before putting them in their well-known chain of restaurants.

Their food and ambience are spectacularly perfect, and for more than two years, and during one hundred visits, the experience and service were always exceptional.

They have an incredible cheeseburger. That particular day, we'd already each had an appetizer and drinks when a new server came by to take our order. He described the day's special—a buttermilk and bacon waffle with Vermont maple syrup topped with a sunny-side up egg. It sounded decadent, but I had already worked out and had my heart set on a cheeseburger.

My wife loves a fried egg on top of her burger, so I asked if they could add an egg. Being Scottish, I also asked how much it would cost. The server said, "two bucks, but I'm not sure the kitchen can do it."

After checking, she said, "The kitchen can't add the egg. They're too busy."

The restaurant had just opened, and the kitchen was making sunny-side up eggs for the waffles. But when someone tells me something isn't possible, and my wife is involved, I don't give up easily. I waited a few minutes and ordered the same thing with another server who knows us well. He grimaced. "Let me see if the kitchen can do it." Same answer: "They're too busy and aren't prepared to do anything that isn't on the menu." We didn't get it.

We asked to speak to the manager. The minute she arrived, you could tell she was ready for a battle. No smile. No positive gestures. Just a simple, "I understand you have a problem."

I explained that I simply wanted a side order of an egg. She said, "We can't do that." I asked, "Why?" Her response was: "We only order a certain number of eggs per day, and we have to save them for our special waffle. If we don't have the egg, we can't sell one of our most popular dishes."

"So let me make sure I'm tracking here. I spend at least $6,000 a year at your restaurant, and I have one simple request for a two-dollar egg for my burger. You are telling me you can't make that happen because you only order enough eggs for your waffle dish?" She said, "Yes." I asked, "As a manager, wouldn't you rather be one egg short and throw away a waffle that probably cost you fifty cents to make than throw away a loyal customer who brings you $6,000 a year?" She said, "It's our policy."

It was clear to me at that point that the manager—and perhaps the whole restaurant—had no clue about the value of a customer. But she could still save the situation, if she wanted.

I said, "You know what I would do if I were you? I'd send a busboy two hundred feet to the grocery store next door and buy a half a dozen eggs. That might cost you a couple of bucks. You wouldn't have to throw away a waffle, I'd have an egg, and you would make me one happy customer. She said, "I can't do that."

I looked her square in the eyes and said, "We are never coming back. This egg just cost you $6,000."

And you will want to read on because the story doesn't end there. Todd and Deb don't just skip dinner and go home…but instead go elsewhere and discover what true customer service is really all about. It's a great lesson about how one little thing (like giving your customer an egg for their burger) can make a really big difference.

Shop The $6,000 Egg >>

September 20, 2017
9843 view(s)
Joseph L Sexton
February 6, 2018 at 1:24 PM
He certainly had more tolerance than me, as he asked politely many times. "I" would have stood up & told ALL the customers about their inane policy. Good for him leaving & luck them he was a tolerant guy.
Doug Brougher
September 19, 2018 at 9:52 AM
As devil's advocate - I see a story of a customer who gushed about this wonderful restaurant, but on the ONE DAY he couldn't get what he wanted - never mind that it's not on the menu - he tells the restaurant how they should run their business, he behaves like a jerk and announces he leaving the wonderful restaurant FOREVER. Tolerance comes in many forms and there's plenty of blame to go around in this story.
David David
September 19, 2018 at 10:06 AM
I would have just ordered a waffle with an egg and left the waffle as my tip
Karl Ford
September 19, 2018 at 11:59 AM
Love that story! Reminds me of time I was with client in local restaurant at 11:00 a.m. My client just wanted cup of coffee and some toast. The waitress said they quit serving breakfast after 10:30 so toast not available. With that my client said "I will have the tuna salad sandwich then". The waitress wrote that down and then asked if he wanted the bread plain or toasted? He responded "How about toasted ... and just leave off the tuna salad". The waitress then got a puzzling grin on her face ... looked at my client and asked "Would you like butter and jelly with your toast?" We all laughed and had a great start to out day!
Rich Anderson
September 19, 2018 at 12:54 PM
I would have ordered the waffle with the egg special, ordered the hamburger as they made it. When all the orders arrived I would have called the manager over and asked her to watch as I placed the egg on the hamburger as requested and sent the waffle back to the kitchen since they could throw it away with out annoying anyone. I then would have said this is why you are a manager and not an owner making more money or having a brighter future, and may I have a check for my last visit in your establishment.
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