During our interview, Gerry Sarmiento, the chef-owner of Mezzanotte and Piqueo restaurants, mentioned that he and his wife Adriana wanted to create the kind of place that they would patronize themselves. Part of that job is to create an atmosphere where customers feel recognized and cared about. I personally experienced what that meant a little less than two years ago.
|Photo by Chuck Cook Photography|
|Gerry Sarmiento of Mezzanotte and Piqueo restaurants|
One night, I was on my way from downtown to a group dinner I'd arranged at Piqueo. There aren't that many Peruvian restaurants in Houston, so I invited about eight friends to meet me and my family for a shared culinary adventure.
On the way, I stopped at a gas station and when I came back to my car, it wouldn't start. A kind stranger tried to help me with no luck. It was now time for our dinner reservation and I was still 35 minutes away. It was my idea, I had arranged it and I wasn't even there.
I imagined my friends sitting around waiting for me and my stress, embarrassment and frustration grew. I called my husband to let him know the situation. Of course, he offered to come get me, but I asked him to stay at the restaurant with our kids, be a good host, tell everyone to order dinner and not wait for me. One of our friends attending the dinner came to fetch me, sparing me a $40 cab ride to Cypress.
By the time I walked into the restaurant, I was an hour late.
Gerry had been informed of my situation. Instead of getting upset that a table of 12 people was holding off on ordering their dinners and tying up a big table for an hour, he and his lovely wife gave me a hug and a glass of wine. He said, "We're sorry you got stranded. We sent your friends some wine to the table to keep them calm while they were waiting."
Our group had a great dinner, ordered more wine and that was good, for when I returned to pick up my car... it had been towed. But least I had a nice dinner with people that I cared about before I had that unhappy discovery.
I've always been grateful to Gerry and Adriana for salvaging that evening. I don't know how many restaurants would have done that for its customers. But that's how they are. More »