Best practice: Restaurant The Jane using a ‘Did you know’ list to WOW guests

The Jane, Antwerp
The Jane, Antwerp

Many companies are talking about a personal or customer intimate experience. However, it is challenging to put this into practice and make it scalable without overly relying on ‘cold’ digital solutions. How to give guests a personal, warm experience. Paper ‘Did you know …’ list at restaurant The Jane, which gives helps share information between staff and helps WOW guests by making them feel you truly know/acknowledge them.

  • Satisfaction
  • Guest retention

How I learned about The Jane’s ‘Did you know …’ list

I am a strong believer in what I have come to call ‘omakase’-travel/living, in traveling and living with an open mind. And so it came to be that I was having a drink in a cocktail bar in Antwerp, Belgium, with a friend when I spotted a familiar face next to me at the bar. I had been chatting with my friend for a while when I couldn’t resist anymore and walked up to him to ask him if he was who I thought he was.

“Yes”, he replied, “I remember you; table 16 with a lady.” I was dumbstruck that he still remembered me after 4,5 (!) years. More than 4,5 years earlier, I had dinner at The Jane, the famous Antwerp Michelin star restaurant, when he was one of the staff working that night. He had made a lasting impression with how witty, smart, service-oriented he was.

We talked for a bit and he invited us to join him and his friend for a drink. We chatted a bit about hospitality and making people feel at ease. We then touched upon what kind of structures or methods he liked/used and were used at The Jane.

The ‘Did you know …’ list

“It is really simple”, he said. “We have two ‘captains’ who are responsible for each side of the restaurant.” He continued “They make sure they build a connection, that they get to know the guests – if there is a special occasion, if they’re returning guests, etcetera”. He went on to explain that everything they learned, they write down on a paper “Did you know …” list they keep in the back. If another one of the staff would learn of something new, he or she would add that to the list so the list would be expanding during the service. This would allow each and everyone of the staff to learn more and more about the guests.

He gave the example of a couple that just had married in Firenze, Italy. Knowing this, and writing this down on the ‘Did you know …’ list, would for example allow the sommeliers to congratulate them and refer to that region when they would serve a wine that was from a vineyard close by.

Beyond the ‘Did you know …’ list

On top of that, he talked about memorizing special guests or occasions before service and the fact that if you would stay more than 5 times, you and your preferences (e.g. your wine or sparkling/still water preferences) would be logged in their system.

I love the simplicity and pragmatism of the system. Having a great experience and scale it is often about having the human touch. Technology can work but is not always needed to give guests a WOW experience. The ‘Did you know …’ list by The Jane is a great example of this.

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