I was in sunny Florida a few weeks ago and I had a truly remarkable restaurant experience. It was so remarkable that I feel compelled to, well, remark on it…
I love Florida and I love my adorable Grandma but the one thing I can’t stand is eating dinner at 5:00 P.M. But it was my Grandma’s 84th birthday and we took her to a “special” Italian restaurant bright and early!
It was so special my cousins, from Delray Beach, came to town for the festivities. No matter how much I complain about eating at 5, somehow, I’m always starving.
My Grandma runs a very tight hotel. No sleeping past 8 A.M. No A/C unless it’s 95 degrees, either. But, I’ll wake up to a freshly cooked breakfast every morning.
My Grandma will then personally deliver lunch to the pool at 11:30 A.M. sharp. By 5:00 P.M., after a long day of sun bathing and reading, beating a few old timers in shuffle board and chatting with the yentas, it’s safe to say, I’m famished.
So it was my Grandma’s big day and as soon as we arrived we sat down because, of course, we had a reservation. (I didn’t think you needed a reservation for such an early time but the scene was hot!)
Ruth, Mildred, Barbara, Leonard, and Ester were all there.
After I ordered my meal, my hilarious cousin tells me that our waitress is going to start singing. “Just wait, this place is going to go crazy,” he says. I laughed as I thought he was kidding, as usual.
I looked around and I saw a keyboard in the back corner. The place was packed. “Cousin Al, are you serious?”
“Yes, yes…just wait. You’ll see what I mean kiddo! You think I’m kidding. These old ladies are going to be dancing with you on tables soon…you’ll see!”
Not even 15 minutes went by and our sweet waitress grabbed a microphone as some lady sitting at a table quickly got into her keyboard position.
Before you know it our waitress was now singing for the entire dining room. “Um, excuse me, my, uh, lemon water?” Forget about it. Our waitress turned into Barbara Streisand.
I have never seen anything like this. She was now going around to different tables. It was highly entertaining and a lot of fun!
Then the pianist was feeling a little feisty and began singing and decided to take matters into her own hands (or vice versa). She went straight for me and wanted me to (no, forced me to!) see and feel what she was working with.
Nick and Josephine Femia, owners of Verdi’s, must have read a book or two on marketing. This is brilliant.
Serving great food is not enough to get people (older people, especially) to drive 25 minutes out of their way. They decided to give free entertainment at no extra charge. This gets people talking! And yentas love to talk.
Not only are they getting delicious food but they are getting entertainment.
This place must get amazing word of mouth. Verdi’s from day one, (from what I’ve heard – pool gossip, of course) decided to be a purple cow. They didn’t want to be just another Italian restaurant in Fort Lauderdale serving early bird specials. Besides, do you want to be just “another…,” either?
And you thought the early bird special only included a salad and dessert?
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