Thought Leadership + Practical Advice

The Italian chef + a likely model for business in times of COVID-19

Meet Danny.

Relocated from Sydney to the Sunshine Coast, he runs a fantastic restaurant called Mr Mancino in the heart of Coolum Beach.

Like many of us in business, this time of crisis has brought many a challenge. On a recent Experience Review trip for an iconic accommodation provider on the Sunshine Coast we ventured out for dinner + realised something quite interesting + familiar.


It was a Thursday night, the restaurant was buzzing, the smells of authentic Italian food filling the air. But that’s not what was interesting.

Upon entering, we were greeted by the chef (!) peering through from the open kitchen. He quickly confirmed our identity from the reservation and indicated that we could sit wherever we liked. Instantly, this felt like an authentic Italian experience.

Once seated he was quickly following, placing two champagne glasses on the table + began to pour Prosecco, accompanied with ‘its your anniversary right? – this one’s on me’. Impressive huh? There’s nothing new in the idea, but a useful reminder to demonstrate recognition with your customer to build rapport, empathy + relationship. Well, it gets better.


Danny was running the whole show. There were no other wait staff. A one man band. Writing the theme tune and signing the theme tune. And he was all over it. Different diners at various stages of their dining experience, he had them covered. Small surprises along the way, an authentic + galvanising character, with fantastic food to boot.

And – he was doing it all. He had to.

So, what does this mean for businesses in COVID-crisis?

Well, for many of us, we’ve had to pare back our resources + now feel that we are doing everything. For Customer Frame, we certainly had to do that + watching Danny flow through from every aspect, we had a real empathy for him + a realisation of how much we have all had to adapt + learn new skills to reinvent our businesses or, even just to survive.


What did it mean for his business?

It meant reducing the width of options on the menu – keeping it to the simpler + more impactful rather than trying to deliver everything.

It meant coming out from behind the kitchen + connecting directly with customers, allowing his personality to shine through.

It also meant coming to terms with not having the people resources available + adapting to it. The margins are tight for restaurants + with highly variable revenues (one day to the next is very much unknown), having the cost of staff can be the difference between staying afloat or sinking. As a coastal venue, there’s also a high transient workforce, so keeping consistency is also difficult.


In observing Danny + how he has switched up what he does, what can you do in your business to change up what you do whilst actually maintaining or even enhancing the customer experience you deliver?

For many of us in these crazy times, it’s about challenging the norms of your business, learning something new + most of all – keeping the customers that you do have – enhancing their experience with you to move them from being just ‘satisfied’ to raving advocates.

Danny – you had us at limoncello!

The little touches + authenticity go beyond just a good product to round out an experience that is remarkable.

But moreso, remarkable what we can all do during times of reinvention + crisis.

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