When I seek out restaurants to sample their menus, I love to talk to the managers and the owners. Some are hesitant to speak to me. I don't know why. I'm just a big lovable pussycat (OK, I did scratch some people in the past, but it's the past).
Some are willing to step up to the plate. Wade Crosby of CiCi's Pizza in Cape Girardeau is a very high-octane, energetic and positive kind of guy. It reflects in his work and his managerial skills. Wade is an anomaly in Southeast Missouri, but on the West Coast, not only is his cheerleading style the norm, it is a requirement. If you don't love what you do, your employees will know, and your customers will know, too. I can't begin to express what a joy it is to sit down at a restaurant and be served by a sour -faced employee. No really, I can't.
RA: Wade, when I walked into CiCi's I was greeted with "Welcome to CiCi's," and when I left I heard "Thank you" and "CiCi you later." Is this part of the company script?
WC: Yes, part of what the company was built on was we want the customer to smile when they walk through the door and smile when they walk out of the door.
RA: What is the other part?
WC: To give the customer good pizza at a great price. We have take-home value packs, but our signature item is our $3.99 all-you-can-eat buffet.
RA: I tried the buffet. Not only did I like the choices of the salad bar, pasta bar (two kinds of pasta and two kinds of sauces) and the pizza bar, I liked the way it was laid out. After you pay you get your tray and plate and move down the line to the salad, pasta and pizza. There isn't any crowding or jostling. When you go to your table you aren't knocking into someone else trying to get to the buffet.
WC: The design of CiCi's is also important to enhance the customer's experience. Making sure we serve fresh, hot pizza all the time is another way we work to serve our customers.
RA: How fresh?
WC: First, we don't start to make pizza 'til the first customer arrives. Second, our dough is never over 30 minutes old from the time we make it. Third, a pizza in the buffet is never older than 25 minutes. Anything older is gone from the buffet.
RA: Wow. Fresh, fresh.
WC: Fresh, fresh.
RA: I noticed that CiCi's is very family friendly.
WC: That is part of the overall design. Parents can eat their pizza and watch their kids in the arcade room have a good time. We want families to feel good about coming to CiCi's.
RA: How important is it to CiCi's to be a part of the community in Cape?
WC: Very. I like to hire kids in high school. Many times we will be their first job experience. If we can make it a positive one, that will carry over all through their careers. I like the thought of creating good customer-service ethics in potential leaders of tomorrow.
Quick review: low-cost eats, family friendly, perky employees. Let's eat!