Putting the Magic Back Into Your Restaurant

When you experience a moment that is truly magical, you know it. You know it, because you feel it.


I recently felt magic when visiting Disneyland. My wife, two-year-old son and I were up way past bedtime waiting in line for a ride for what felt like forever. As we approached the front of the line, exhausted, a kind ride operator asked how our visit was going. When we told him that it was our first visit ever, he smiled and told us that after we rode, we could stay on the ride for a second round.

We must ask ourselves: how can we make the short time a guest spends in a restaurant the best time of their day?


This seemingly simple gesture made our night. No matter the motivation, this employee was guided by the core principle sharing joy, and he did. I carry this moment with me and remember it when I think Disney.  


Because a magic moment is something you feel, it is something that cannot be faked – it must be genuine. In our eatsa stores, customers smile with joy or take videos of friends when they experience picking up their food from our cubbies. This break from what is expected during lunch embodies the magic that work to bring to our store guests, and it continues to stoke the curiosity and delight of our customers.


More than ever, people are hypersensitive to their experiences and engagement with products and brands. As a result, brands are becoming increasingly aggressive in their attempt to garner attention. The table stakes of customer service are no longer enough. Brands need to identify early on, what makes them unique and “magical.” We must ask ourselves “how can we make the short time a guest spends in a restaurant the best time of their day?” How do we garner reactions like “that’s so cool!!” and “how the heck did they even do that?!?”


Here are seven ways to infuse magic into your brand’s products and experiences:

Tell Genuine Stories with Substance

At The Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco, you are asked to say one thing you’re are worried about in life before you enter the museum. You are then asked to let go of that worry and smother it with the joys of ice cream. This act offers a simple yet compelling narrative and an amazing way to frame what you are about to experience.

Create Next Level 'Surprise and Delight'

We must genuinely fulfill the phrase “surprise and delight.” Push beyond merely what is expected. For example, eatsa’s design focuses on merging digital and physical technology in a way that is unexpected, joyful and engaging, thus much more exciting than your average coupon or free side of guacamole.

Get to Know Your Customers Even Better

 Find ways to get your guests to say “somehow they just know me!” Employing impressive personalization features will set your business apart and keep people coming back.

Optimize, Don’t Just Modernize

 Don’t apply design for the sake of design, be useful. One of my favorite examples of this is the Kazbrella upside down umbrella. At first this design seems flashy, but its features are thoughtful and incredibly useful. You’re left wondering why it took this long for someone to think of this.


Help, But Don’t Hover

Enjoying a meal can be a very personal thing and hovering over guests is a non-starter. Give customers the space they desire, but always be findable and available if needed.

Understand the Value of Your Customer’s Time

Consumers are busy and want to use their time as they see fit. Empower guests with clearly defined pickup instructions and mobile apps that provide details during the ordering process to maximize the guests’ precious time. For example, eatsa’s mobile app tells customers when their food will be ready down to the exact minute.


Don’t follow. Be original. In the world of sequels, spin-offs and substitutes, separate your business model and offerings from the pack with new and provocative customer engagements.

Pushing ourselves beyond the obvious answers in today’s restaurant industry is imperative. Rather than thinking outside the box, consider instead that there is no box. In whatever you create, work to help people to feel the magic.