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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lagniappe Builds Loyalty

On a recent trip, we made a detour to Philadelphia (about 50 miles out of the way) to have dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant. This restaurant is in the heart of Philadelphia's Chinatown (near the convention center). The restaurant has a wonderful ginger garlic sauce they bring to the table for appetizers. We just love it and always request more.

This restaurant really gets the concept of lagniappe. Lagniappe is a familiar term in New Orleans and it refers to a small extra given to the customer for free (e.g. an extra beignet if you buy a dozen). I have visited this restaurant on just about every trip to Philadelphia and frequently go out of my way when returning home on Interstate 95. They go out of their way to show guests they are appreciated.

On one visit, I brought my parents and the waiter took the time to describe the preparation of the Chinese broccoli dish to my father (who loves greens). On another visit, our waitress explained how to make the famous sauce. Even though I can make it now myself, I still like to experience the authentic dishes which benefit from a good dollop. Danny, the manager, responded to my wife's compliment this way: "If you don't like the sauce, you don't like this restaurant." He proceeded to fill a small bag with 10 take-out portion cups of the sauce.

As regular customers become more difficult to find in this economy, the concept of lagniappe could help you retain those who decide to try your restaurant.

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