Saturday night my family and two friends took my wife out to a new Italian restaurant, Cannelloni Joe’s, for her birthday dinner. Only open for several weeks in south Austin, (and so new it doesn’t seem to have a Web site) we were expecting something along the same lines as Macaroni Grill, Carrabas, or Johnny Carinos.
Instead, we were pleased to find that it was it was anything but. First we were surprised to find that food was served buffet-style. That sent up some red flags, but let me tell you the food was excellent. The service was prompt and efficient also.
Now here’s why I’m writing this post. If you’re thinking it was like some Italian version of a Golden Corral or Lubys Cafeteria, you’re way off base. The first thing we noticed was the near three-dimensional murals of an Italian village on the exterior of the building. The interior was laid out in a series of rooms with the food served in different areas designed like the storefronts in that Italian town.
You know that I’m a believer in differentiating yourself from your competition. Joe’s certainly did that because not only was the food served buffet-style, but unlike many other restaurant chains, customers were not all seated in one cavernous room with concrete floors. Joe’s was a series of various sized rooms which served to make the setting both more intimate and a great deal more quiet than restaurants who group everyone into one big room. The six of us could actually hold a conversation without yelling.
Here’s why I mention that. Before I attended all of those rock concerts in my college days, I had extremely acute hearing. My youngest son has inherited that hearing. For him to go into one of those “big box” restuarants can be physically painful at worst, and at best, merely miserable. I’m sure restaurants use that floorplan with concrete floors to save time and money. But to some of us, it detracts from the experience. We’ve actually walked out of quite a few restaurants because they were too noisy.
Take a lesson from Canneloni Joe’s and don’t be afraid to differentiate your business from your competitors. They focused not only on food and service, but on creating a different kind of ambience as well. We enjoyed it.
We’ll be back.