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Have you been here?

September 25, 2017


Last weekend, my parents called and asked me to meet them for lunch. They are the kind of people that rarely try new restaurants. They know what they like and stick with it. When my dad told me the name and address of a new restaurant they wanted to try, I was shocked!

As we chatted on the phone, he said the restaurant is a small "hole in the wall". He told me that he had heard about it through some friends and had wanted to try it for months. The name of the restaurant was Daddy D's and according to his friends it wasn't easy to find. This is because it is located inside the convenient store of a Shell gasoline. You know that expression, "a picture is worth a thousand words"? I am sure my expression walking through the automatic sliding doors was priceless. Just by looking at me, my dad could tell I was thinking, "why the heck are we eating inside a gas station?"

Right as I walked in the owner, Daddy D approached me with a warm smile and said hello. He told me that he had spent the last few minutes chatting with my parents and they told him I was commuting from Beaverton. He thanked me for coming and kindly escorted me to our table which was next to the chip aisle and gave me a menu. I was already feeling tired because I had just finished a 40 mile bike ride when I looked up and spotted a Starbucks Mocha Frappuchino through the glass of a refrigerator at the Shell station. I told my dad, "I am going to need this before I can make any further decisions." At this point, I was hungry, tired and a tad bit annoyed with my dads choice of restaurant. 

After I caffeinated myself, I ordered my lunch...a BBQ Brisket sandwich. Daddy D then came over and started talking with my family and I. Since we had never been in his restaurant before he shared a little about himself. He said that he was the youngest in a family of 11 kids and he himself had 9 kids. He then pointed to a table next to us with two men and a woman sitting at it. He expressed that the men were two of his sons and the woman was his wife. He then told us that all of his employees were either family or close friends. That was his way of keeping a family business in the family. 

As we were eating he shared with us that the family bbq sauce had been a secret recipe passed down for 3 generations. He laughed and said, "I am the only living person in the family that knows how to make it." He then said  the thing you need to know is that it's not the ingredients in the sauce that makes is so special." Inquisitively I raised an eyebrow to him. He said, "the secret ingredient to the sauce is SOUL."

I thought about his comment for a second and realized how right he was. I always joke with people that my mom and I can use the exact same ingredients and portions when making potato salad but hers always tastes better than mine. I never knew why but I always blamed it on her secret ingredient, LOVE.

Daddy D told use that he infuses soul into all aspects of his business. He claims that is what makes his restaurant so special. He said, "look around, this isn't a big fancy restaurant space but every day we sell out. We have 3 Traeger grills smoking our meat 24/7 and we still can't keep up. We have been in business for the last 9 years and are now expanding to a second location across town and will also be serving at all major events at the Moda Center." He seemed most excited to be at the Blazers games. 

The most impactful thing that Daddy D told me that day was "it is not about the money. Nor is it about how many plates we get out the door every day. It is about the people and how they feel during and after they leave my restaurant." When those words came out of his mouth I was awww-struck. My thoughts were no longer, "why are we eating in a Shell station but WOW, this guy understands servant leadership, power of community and culture."

As we were about to leave Daddy D pulled me aside and gave me his personal cell phone number. He thanked me for coming because he knew the length of the commute I had made. He then said words that I will never forget, "if i enjoyed my experience here today and ever want to come back that I should give him a call in advance and he will set a side my order to ensure I get it." In this moment, I think my jaw dropped to the floor from his kindness. 

If you have never been to Daddy D's, I highly suggest you try it. The food was delicious but I walked away with so much more than a belly full of food. I walked out with an experience I will never forget. Daddy D added value to my life by making me feel special and important. When is the last time a restaurant owner has made you feel that way? 

My challenge for you this week is to be a servant leader like Daddy D. How will you think of others and their needs this week before your own? 

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