Friday, November 20th, 2009
A few years ago, The Broker Restaurant in Denver, CO participated in a local radio promotion. As a part of this promotion, the radio station mailed out $25 unrestricted coupons to area residents who completed a survey about their radio listening preferences. Because there were no restrictions, these coupons were essentially treated like cash in the restaurant.
Over the course of the eight-week promotion, tens of thousands of $25 coupons were mailed out to survey respondents and the promotion proved to be very successful at increasing the exposure of The Broker and attracting many new customers.
Toward the end of the promotion, unbeknownst to the restaurant’s owners, the radio station began handing the remaining $25 coupons out to passersby on the 16th Street Pedestrian Mall as a part of a separate promotion.
As often happens when people are handed unsolicited promotional material on the street, they tend to scan it quickly before tossing it in the nearest trashcan. As a result, hundreds of coupons ended up in the trashcans lining the 16th Street Mall—some of which were later retrieved by members of Denver’s homeless population.
The Broker Restaurant is located in the old Denver National Bank building and is situated in an old bank vault. The European antiques are dark cherry wood and the vault itself, including the huge round door, remains to make The Broker one of Denver’s most unique and elegant restaurants. According to its website, “Not a day goes by when an observer will not spot some of Denver’s most prominent citizens enjoying lunch or dinner.”
It was in this setting that a homeless man in his thirties and his young son entered during lunch service and seated themselves in the lounge area of the restaurant, prominently located at the base of the grand staircase directly in front of the immense vault door.
A server approached their table and the father inquired about using the coupon he’d found to pay for their lunch. The server was uncertain about how to respond to the man so she accepted the coupon and excused herself to phone restaurant founder, Ed Novak.
After explaining the situation to Novak, the server was instructed by him to honor the coupon and serve the father and son as she would any other guests. During the meal, the server learned that it was the boy’s tenth birthday and came to understand further about the family’s situation.
In reflecting on the experience later that day during a conversation with Novak, the server shared how her initial discomfort with the situation dissolved as she took time to serve the father and son, treating them as honored guests rather than out of place vagrants.
As Thanksgiving nears, this true story is a timely reminder to all of us of the powerful effect our personal service can have on the lives of others. As Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Everyone has the power of greatness…because greatness is determined by service.”
This Thanksgiving, don’t just be grateful. Look for opportunities to serve others and be great too!