Learning the Lesson

Here in Boise, Idaho, the news came out this week that Mortimer’s, a fine-dining restaurant in downtown Boise, will be closing on June 21st.  That, in and of itself, is not really news – restaurants open and close all the time.

What sets this news apart is the reason that they’re closing.

The media has been quick to note that the reason that Mortimer’s is closing after eight years is because of a bad review in The Idaho Statesman.  But that’s not really the case, and the folks from Mortimer’s will be the first to say that.

The reason they’re closing, in their own words, is because “Last month Jon received the worst review of his career by The Idaho Statesman’s restaurant critic Guy Hand.  The review made it obvious that Jon is spread too thin and needs to concentrate on one restaurant.  Although we were devastated by the review we both agreed with most of the criticism and decided neither of us could commit the time needed to make Mortimer’s what it should be.”

The review in question made note of several inconsistencies in recent visits to the restaurant, mainly those centered around the preparation of the dishes.  The comments that have followed, both on the original review, and the news of the closing, seem to echo similar sentiments — namely that the food is not prepared consistently, the service was below expectation, or other areas of dissatisfaction.

My point here is not to belabor the details about why the restaurant is closing, but rather to use this example to point out some very critical points that are essential to the success of any business.

Whether you’re in the restaurant, retail, service or any other business, the smallest details can make the difference between a bad experience, a good experience or a great experience.  Losing sight of that fact, and failing to focus on those details, can, and has been, the downfall of many a company – definitely not something that is unique to the restaurant industry.

The moral of the story?  In business, as in life, you can either learn from the lesson or you can be the next lesson.  Put another way, you can either set the example or be the example.  Which would you prefer?