Roast Chicken Revival: A Customer Service Parable

Revival Roast.jpg
Delicious, simple, quick. Well, okay, maybe not so much that last one.
Even cooks don't always want to cook. I'm not talking about those days where you really want to go out to eat. I'm talking about those "got home late, nothing in the cabinets, dog tired, just want to eat something that doesn't suck" kind of days. I had one of those recently.

My parents had asked me to go over to their house to hang out with my grandparents for the night, so that my folks could attend a lecture. I agreed, then promptly forgot about it. I remembered at around 4:30 that afternoon, with no plan for dinner. I knew I wouldn't make it over to my folks' house until fairly late. Racking my brain for something quick and not terrible to pick up for dinner, I remembered noticing some Revival Market tweets, promising phone-ahead chicken roasting. That sounded like just the ticket, so I called the shop and ordered a couple of birds ($12.95 each) from co-owner Morgan Weber, planning to pick them up about an hour later.

I left work with plenty of time to make it across town to Revival, and wound up getting there about 15 minutes early. I told the guy at the counter my name, what I was there for, and that I might be a bit early, and that I understood if the birds weren't quite ready yet. As he went to check on dinner, I walked around the small space, selecting a couple of loaves of bread to accompany the chickens, and eying some Fluff Bake Bar macarons for dessert.

As I was lingering around the dessert case, Morgan called questioningly from behind the coffee bar, "Are you Nick?" Turning, I nodded my assent and walked over. Morgan introduced himself and, apologizing profusely, explained that they'd had oven problems, and my chickens would be running a bit behind. He offered me a coffee while I waited, refusing payment. I had a cortado. It was delicious.

About 45 minutes later, 30 minutes after I'd been told to expect them, my birds came out of the oven and were boxed loosely (to prevent steam from ruining the crisp skin). Throughout my wait, Morgan and several other employees kept me updated on the birds' progress, asking if I needed anything else. When they finally rang me up, they threw in a bag of baked beans for the trouble, and heavily discounted my entire purchase. I'd like to say I got special treatment because of my considerable fame in the Houston food scene, but (clearly) that's a lie. It was just good customer service.

I ruminated on this as I drove home with my prizes, the tantalizing aroma of chicken fat, lemon, and rosemary making me suddenly aware of my growing hunger. When I got home, my wife was irritated about the delay, but when I explained the extenuating circumstances, and Revival Market's response to them, she softened considerably.

Revival Roast2.jpg
Chicken ass has charms to soothe a savage breast.
When we finally reached my parents' house and I began carving the birds (skin still crispy!), she softened even more; I gave her the prized "chicken oyster," the crispy and fatty triangle of flesh proving the birds worth the wait. The meat was succulent and deeply flavored, with notes of citrus and herbs playing an appropriately supporting role to the deep chickenness infused in every bite.

By the time we polished off the last of the macarons (Mexican chocolate), their perfect texture crunching slightly before seeming to vanish into an air of chocolate essence, any trace of irritation had similarly dissolved. Instead, we were left sated and happy, with plans for chicken soup made from what remained of the birds.

While the freebies were a nice touch, they weren't necessarily what stuck with me. In my eyes, the keys to good customer service are honesty and concern, both of which were manifest in this experience. As soon as practical, they informed me of the issue, and were forthright about what it would take to fix it; they kept me updated throughout the resolution process; they showed clear consideration for the inconvenience I had been caused, and took more than reasonable steps to be accommodating.

Most people think that problems are only that. For me, this is a re-validation of what I've taken as mantra during my many years in customer service. Issues are not a bad thing, as long as you use them to give your customers a reason to come back. A little consideration is usually all it takes. I suppose a few free macarons don't hurt, though.



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Location Info

Revival Market

550 Heights Blvd, Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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27 comments
Yumyum
Yumyum

Nicholas,

It is hard to see what size the chicken is.  It looks much larger than your average grocery chicken and your article sounded delicious.

ec
ec

Chicken looks dried out.  No thank you.

will slippery
will slippery

Good for Revival.

Of course, you could have skipped the grief and gone to somewhere like El Rey, Central Market, Whole Foods, Fiesta or several other grocery stores and gotten a couple of good rotisserie birds as soon as you walked in the door.

But of course, you had to "call ahead" to the foodie-hipster-approved Revival Market in The Heights and pay a fair amount more than you'd pay at most of the venues named above.

And this is the second time in my recollection that you've made a point of mentioning the "chicken oyster" in one of your posts. Simply pretentious.

Renee Gremillion Smith
Renee Gremillion Smith

It is so simple, as you've said, and it is a wonder that good customer service has become a luxury extra rather than a core value in ...customer service... industries.  My mind is boggled.  I am glad to hear of a good experience.

Hugh Ramsey
Hugh Ramsey

I am likely to head to Revival again soon, based solely on this story.

Ali
Ali

Seriously, great customer service is key to any success. I think we're so used to getting crappy service on a regular basis, we are in complete shock when a business behaves appropriately.

I love Revival already but reading this makes infinitely happier to pay the higher prices for their delicious food and great service.

I'm a big fan of roast chicken (when someone else does it). I'm gonna have to try these!

Bruce R
Bruce R

I couldn't agree more with your second to last paragraph.  Well stated, as well.

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

I don't know what I want more at 9:18 a.m.--roast chicken or dessert. YUM.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Dude. The oyster is the best part of the chicken carcass. I say mention it moar!

No
No

Why world anyone want to read about the time he went to Fiesta and got a chicken? And aren't Whole Foods and Central Market just as hipster-elitest as Revival? Stay off the food blogs if you have no interest in something new. I'll just send you my grocery list each week and you can read that instead.

Bruce R
Bruce R

You're tough.  I thought NH was simply trying something new.  Some people like to do that sometimes.

I've noticed hostility directed at perceived "hipsters" on this blog.  I'll assume it's jealousy.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Why are you reading my posts if you don't like the way I write, or the topics I cover? Honest question.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

It really is amazing to me how affecting a good customer service experience can be. I would ordinarily have been very upset about this situation; Morgan and his crew did a great job. You can ask my wife; I went on and on about customer service and its importance for a couple of days after this. I'm constantly amazed at how many businesses don't get it right, as it's really quite simple.

H_e_x
H_e_x

When people criticized Idi Amin, I'm sure they were all just jealous. I hear people are delicious.

H_e_x
H_e_x

Missed the point :/

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've been compared to a genocidal despot. Pretty sure.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

The Ice Cream was Jenni's, I'm betting. What about the pickles?

hzzgity
hzzgity

As far as pretentious-hipster-foodieism goes, this is mild.  This past weekend I dropped $40 on artisanal pickles and small batch ice cream.*  Time to step up your game, brah.

*No regrets, they were delicious.

Megan
Megan

I was referring more to the adoration of the chicken oyster, but hey, that works too.

Early Cuyler
Early Cuyler

Why, thank you little lady.  I've decided to be a kinder, gentler Early Cuyler and cool it on the foodie rants.  Unless some bastard starts going on and on about pork bellies, then the gloves come off!

Megan
Megan

You, sir, are a prince among men.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Also, just curious here, what exactly do you find pretentious about "chicken oyster?" Is my usage of the alternate term "chicken ass" (see the second photo) similarly elitist?

I didn't go to a grocery store for my chicken because I find grocery store rotisserie chicken to be consistently dried out, overcooked, and generally mediocre. El Rey does good rotisserie, and I certainly could have done that. As indicated in the post, I chose Revival roast chickens largely because I had very recently heard of their "roast ahead" program, and wanted to give it a shot. The idea behind call ahead chicken roasting is pretty brilliant, by the way, no matter who is doing it. The aim is to guarantee that the chicken you are getting is as freshly prepared as possible, ready to pick up as soon as you get there. Obviously, this didn't quite work out in this instance, but that's part of the reason for the post; how a good business handles an unfortunate situation.

As far as price goes, there are a host of reasons one might rather pay a little more to get a chicken from a place like Revival. I don't think there's any great mystery there. Considering the quality of the finished product (not to mention the raw materials), I think that the price is actually quite fair. Of course, I'm just a pretentious foodie-hipster sheep, so feel free to handily ignore that opinion.

Early Cuyler
Early Cuyler

If you mean roll like tissue stuck to an asshole, then I'd say that sounds about right.  What in the hell is pretentious about mentioning the oyster on the chicken?  It's the best tasting part of a chicken, hell Denver even has a restaurant that serves a sandwich made entirely of chicken oysters.  Ease up.

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