To J.D. Oliver and the Smoke House Staff,
I love it every time that I come into your restaurant. I live north of Atlanta, but since I’m the assistant organizer of the Chattanooga Hiking Meetup, our group is often out your way hiking.
Last weekend, some of us were out hiking the Grundy Forest Day Loop with Ranger Jason Reynolds. I was going to suggest everyone go to your restaurant for dinner, but as I was in the restroom, everyone left the park except the woman that I carpooled with. We were all so busy listening to Ranger Jason on the hike and taking pictures, that I forgot to discuss going out to eat afterward. Anyway, the woman that I rode with had never been to your restaurant before, but after that visit, she was completely sold.
Not only was your food exceptionally good as always, but the main reason that I am emailing you is to let you know the difference that your staff make. From the moment we walked in, we were greeted. Our waitress was excellent. She answered questions, explained things, checked on us, kept our drinks filled, etc. Sounds regular, but she was just super sweet. The part that made the difference with her is that she exhibited that she genuinely cared. A lot of times when you go to a restaurant, you are treated as a customer.
Then there was smokin mike. My friend started off by asking him if she was able to get some pulled pork for an event that she was doing at her home later that week. (That’s how much she liked it). Well, he didn’t just answer her questions and rush her off. Again, my friend was made to feel like she mattered, and he took as much time as she needed without making her feel rushed. He also took the time to explain about several different sauces. During this time, the ribeye steaks that he had been smoking were done. He gave her a sample, and I don’t think I’ve EVER seen her react that way. She kept saying oh my gosh, oh my gosh. She loved it. She bought pork and sauce, and has already said that she definitely wants to go back there the next time we’re out that way on a hike. I even texted a picture of your logo to a hiker that wasn’t on the hike that day, and he was jealous.
When smokin mike was sharing about the sauces, he pulled a piece of meat and dipped it into the sauce with peach and sriracha. It tasted really good, but he dipped a LOT of sauce on it, and sriracha is hot stuff, so it made me really thirsty. I went back to the counter where the servers were, and asked if I could get a to go cup of pepsi (I’d already just had some when eating my dinner). I told them about the hot sauce, and suddenly 3 staff quickly started running about to help me. I was impressed how genuinely helpful they were all trying to be. Even the ones that weren’t my servers.
When walking around the store, I was talking to one of the men in the shop area. I said that everything was so good, but that I was stuffed. He proceeded to tell me that if I ate a piece of the peppermint fudge, that it would help my tummy, as he put it. So, we walked to the fudge counter. As he was cutting a piece, he explained about the peppermint oil.
My friend even bought 6 fried pies after I kept telling her how good they are. Usually she watches her money, but she was just so happy with her visit, that she got the pork, the sauce, and the pies.
Your staff aren’t just waitresses, cashiers, meat smokers, and gift shop sales staff ….. they are people that know how to make a person (notice I didn’t use the word customer, but rather person) feel genuinely cared for. You’ve got the quality product to keep people coming back, but the way folks feel treated is what they often talk about when telling others about it as well, and makes you stand out even more.
Thank You !
Assistant Organizer, Chattanooga Hiking Meetup
Assistant Organizer, Outdoor Club South
Coach, Chattanooga Ultimate Hike Team