Valuing Our Customers

With everyone on the go these days, sometimes it’s easy to forget the customer.  But here at Willie’s our customers are first and foremost in the minds of our employees.

The only thing as important as the food in a restaurant is the service and according to Gallup, the most powerful driver of engagement is “being treated as a valued customer,” followed by “the warmth of the greeting” and “the taste of the food.” Yet most diners don’t feel they are being treated and fed well. Gallup’s analysis shows that 27% of restaurant customers are fully engaged, and 20% are actively disengaged.  Among fast-food customers though, 20% are fully engaged, and 31% are actively disengaged. Continue reading “Valuing Our Customers”

The History of Tipping

Though tipping your waiter or waitress may feel like something that’s always been part of the dining experience in America, the fact is, the act of tipping is a borrowed custom from Europe.

It is not clear when the word “tip” came into the English language but some speculate that the origins of the word came from Samuel Johnson.  Johnson frequented a coffee shop which had a bowl labeled “To Insure Promptitude,” and Johnson and other guests would put a coin into the bowl throughout the evening to receive better service.  This soon was shortened to “T.I.P.” and then simply, tip.  Continue reading “The History of Tipping”

A Restaurant Tale

Here at Willie’s, we love our history just as much as we love our food.   The backstory of how the restaurant became a part of our societal culture is quite a fascinating one and yet people have rarely heard it.  That is where we come in.

The word restaurant comes from the French restaurer, meaning to “restore or refresh.”  A restaurant was a place to make people feel better. In fact, during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance it was common to study medicine and food preparation together.

Paris is often cited as the birthplace of the restaurant. The institutions in which these “restaurants” were served had costly and luxurious interiors and appealed to a wealthy clientele. They were a far cry from the unsavory taverns and inns that typically provided food to travelers. Concepts such as seating patrons at their own tables, providing dining at unspecified hours and a menu from which diners could choose their own dishes came out of these institutions and became an established part of “restaurant” service.

The idea of selling food for profit goes back as far as the earliest civilization. The need for public eateries was firmly established as far back as the Roman Empire and Ancient China. When peasants and farmers brought their livestock and other goods to the urban markets, often they traveled for several days at a time. This brought about the earliest form of restaurants, the roadside inn. Usually located in the middle of the countryside, inns served meals at a common table to travelers

During the Middle Ages, it was actually illegal to sell cooked meat in any form.  But in 1765, a man by the name of Boulanger added cooked lamb to a stew he sold in his shop.   The caterer’s guild sued and Boulanger won the case. Over the next 20 years leading up to the French Revolution, more and more shops like Boulanger’s began opening up all over Paris.

But what of the first American restaurant?  That distinction is generally given to Julien’s Resorator, a Boston establishment opened in 1793 by Jean-Baptiste Julien.  Julien specialized in turtle soup, and he went so far as to take out advertisements in local papers exalting his “fresh supply of green sea turtles, of a midding size” prepared “in the best manner.” Taking a cue from eateries in France, Julien emphasized the healthy nature of his dishes, promising to nourish, invigorate and strengthen bodies with his various cordials, broths, soups and meats.

Nowadays, whether it’s for a sandwich or a 10-course tasting menu, many people don’t think twice about getting a bite to eat at a restaurant. In fact, nearly every street corner presents a new opportunity to enjoy a meal without the hassle of messing up our own kitchens.

The next time you feel grabbing some good old fashioned grub we encourage you to visit Willie’s for a truly historic meal!