Loveless in Nashville

You’ve probably seen the chick flick Sleepless in Seattle. Today, I want to talk about Loveless in Nashville. No, that’s not an on-line Lonely Hearts Club in Music City.

It’s a none-too-fancy restaurant that has been serving mouth-watering chicken, biscuits, and jam since, oh, the days of the Pony Express. Loveless Cafe.

Yes, the food is wonderful, in that fill-your-belly-to-bursting southern cooking kind of way. But I haven’t been there for, like 28 years. So why write about it now?

Because, a quick web search indicates that it’s still there. And I can tell you one 28-year old reason why.

Newlyweds, and fresh off of a move from Connecticut to Nashville, where we planned to take up residence, my bride and I walked into the famed Loveless Cafe for dinner. We were such newbies to the area, in fact, that we didn’t have a bank account set up yet. I think it was about our first week in town.

I remember the usual friendly Southern service. Very large quantities of wonderful food that I wish I could afford to eat in these days of more restricted caloric intake. The homey atmosphere. And, at the end, the travelers checks (remember those, anybody?), always advertised as “same as cash” – that’s all we had to pay for the meal. Like I said, no bank account yet, and no cash in our pockets.

Loveless’ didn’t take travelers checks. Ooops.

So how did they handle this embarrassing situation? I will paraphrase the waitress’ words: “Now, that’s all right honey, you just take this bill, and once you have your bank account set up, just send us a check for it.”

Huh?????

Needless to say, this native New England couple was blown away. Yes, we sent them a check. And yes, I never forgot. And somehow, almost three decades later, I’m simply not at all surprised to see that they’re still in business.

Treat people like that and it’s hard to lose.

(Apparently, CC Chapman has been there too! If you’ve been to Loveless, leave a comment with your impressions!)

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Twitter: @swoodruff

Connect with Steve Woodruff

The Cult of Harley Davidson

I recently had the unexpected experience of walking into a cult temple. Otherwise known as a Harley dealership. This is branding nirvana – beyond brand attachment to the creation of a user cult!

Read about on the Marketing Profs Daily Fix blog.

The Shopping Networker

I’m a networker. And, I occasionally go food shopping, although that responsibility generally falls upon my longsuffering wife. As a member of the blogging community who has been in his share of stores, I’ve never written about a shopping experience at Shop-Rite. Or A&P. Or Kings. Or Kroger. Or Stop and Save. In fact, the only food store I’ve written about (until now) was Stew Leonard’s, because it was a memorable experience created through a remarkable environment.

This week, I met someone at a Wegman’s in central Jersey. I was early, but I didn’t mind, because I found myself wandering around, figuring out why I had such positive feelings about being in this store. Someone had very carefully designed an environment that made me WANT to be there. What was it?

First of all, the store design managed to pull off a sense of both airiness and intimacy. The ceiling was high, but was painted an interesting rust/brown hue. Suspended from it, however, was an attractive gridwork of black metal, on which was carefully mounted a lighting scheme that brought the ceiling down while still leaving it open. The various lights employed nicely highlighted the shelves. It was quite brilliant in design, actually.

The floor pattern was not plain, but had a multi-hued, almost stone-looking pattern. Combined with the faux (but attractive) windows and siding that were mounted along the walls, the effect was that you were strolling in an Italian courtyard. You didn’t feel trapped in an impersonal box; instead, they managed to capture the feeling of small shops in a more intimate setting.

The layout was straightforward, but not sterile – pleasant signage mixed with easy-on-the-eyes displays. The cafe section (where I met my client) was set up upstairs, so you could grab some coffee at the coffee bar and just sit and relax at quiet little tables. The aisle widths and patterns varied somewhat, so that the usual institutional feel was absent.

I’ve been to exactly one Wegman’s – this one. Are they all this remarkable? I don’t know, but the store philosphy seems strong, and someone clearly wanted to create an atmosphere that was three cuts above your average food store. When I go to most stores, I just want to get in, get it done, and get out. At Wegman’s, I wanted to linger. That is remarkable.

(Image credit)

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