As the name of this restaurant suggests, word of mouth goes a long way.
It is a simple concept known by every single successful restauranteur. If you make really good food on a consistent basis for someone, they will tell all of their friends by “word of mouth”.
Word of mouth is one of the biggest marketing sectors that completely relates to how well your restaurant is perceived by the public. Word of mouth is also very hard to control when you are a company.
Let me break it down for you like this:
As a restaurant owner, your customer base is incredibly important to you. Producing a good experience and product for said customer is your goal and the end result will give you roughly five-nine potential new customers from the good experience that customer has had.
Now, as a restaurant, you need to hire staff. Lets say one of your coworkers is having a bad day. This coworker gives bad customer service to only one customer at a very inopportune moment and that guest has a bad experience.
On average, a bad experience to one new customer will not only lose that customer but that person will tell roughly 10-16 potential new guests about that bad experience. You just lost 16 potential life-long customers at your restaurant.
Now this may sound dramatic and in most cases, it is.
These statistics are based on my old marketing text book so it might be a couple years out of date. Nonetheless, that can be a scary thought!
I recently went on a vacation to Oregon with my girlfriend. You should not be surprised to hear that Oregon has awesome food. Eating all over Portland was a special experience (if not artery clogging ;)) but the real food star in this visit came from Salem, Oregon.
My girlfriend’s sister lives in Salem, Oregon and we were fortunate to have food-passionate hosts while we visited her family. The first morning in Salem, they were insistent that we make our way down to Word of Mouth, a small cafe ran out of an old house in the middle of the city.
Word of Mouth is only open five days a week, the two owners are the sole cooks, and the parking lots are small.
Oh, by the way, there was a two hour wait.
Most people that would walk into a cafe back in Utah would immediately walk right back out. That amount of wait is almost unheard of. Luckily, we did not have anything else to do. They put us on the list, took down our phone number, and showed us that we could look up the waiting list on their website. We would get a message 15 minutes before our time slot so we just went home and watched tv for a couple hours.
Not a bad way to wait for a restaurant’s long line of people ahead of you.
Before you think “Why didn’t you just call the restaurant to put you on the wait list then?”. They only accept people that actually show up at the restaurant to be put on the waiting list. Some people on the phone with the host did not like this but I think it is a testament to the two owner’s skill at creating an at-home experience.
You would not “call ahead” to your grandma’s house for her to have your food waiting for you by the time you get there.
This entire system makes the meal too formal if you have to make reservations. It also distracts the host from creating a personalized, face-to-face experience with the customer.
When we finally got the message to come back, it was nearly 11:30 AM. Perfect brunch time. Once we got there, the staff was clearing our table. While we waited the few minutes for this to happen, the wait-time increased to two and a half hours. TWO AND A HALF HOURS! For a small cafe in a city an hour south of Portland!
Their coffee was good, as was the initial service. I loved the attention that the waiter gave us. He was there when we needed him but did not hover. Admittedly, this is likely easy if you are serving people in sections of a house.
I could not stop staring at the food that was coming out of the kitchen.
Every single plate was massive, tasty, and pure American bistro food.
My girlfriend ordered the basic breakfast meal, two eggs with toast made from local bread, bacon, and breakfast potatoes. My girlfriend’s brother-in-law ordered the Chicken Fried Pork Chop smothered in sausage country gravy. Both of these sounded great. My girlfriend’s brother-in-law was insistent that I order either the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes or The Incredible Flying Biscuit.
I ordered The Incredible Flying Biscuit. This sounded almost too gimmicky from the name. Then I found out that it was essentially biscuits and gravy with a fried chicken breast, cheddar cheese, and an egg jammed into the middle. Did I mention the biscuits and gravy were homemade?
As we waited for our food, I read through the Word of Mouth’s menu. The Creme Brûlée French Toast and the Cinnamon Roll Pancakes are best sellers. Everything sounded authentic and locally sourced. The coffee is sourced from Tico’s Coffee in Stayton, Oregon and their fresh bread is locally sourced from Cascade Baking in Salem.
When the food came out, everything looked even better than the steaming hot plates being carried to other guests.
My plate was an impressive stack of freshly made biscuits, fried chicken, and massive strips of bacon that the locals lovingly call bacon steaks.
The biscuits were by far the best cafe biscuits I have ever had. They even had a very specific buttermilk taste, which can be hard to pull off. The sausage gravy was everything I expect from a sausage gravy.
The bacon was awesome but honestly, a little overkill. It was hard to eat in that massive pile. They were served along side my girlfriend’s meal and her brother-in-law’s meal and they fit perfectly with that. Having a massive slab of in-house cured bacon covered in gravy is an awesome sight and, no doubt, delicious. The practicality was hard to get behind though.
The saving grace for these enormous bacon steaks was the steak-house style knives they serve with this dish.
It would have been completely impractical had Word of Mouth not served a massive steak knife along side it.
The egg and cheese were perfect accompaniments to the mountain of food they served. The potatoes they served along side of your flying high biscuit/chicken/egg were smashed yukon gold potatoes.
I have seen this technique before in cafes but it is rare. It is the most underrated way of cooking your breakfast potatoes. Also, it is a far more efficient way to getting soft potatoes mixed with delicious crispy bits of potato. The perfect balance is achieved this way.
If you want to check out any of my other reviews, here is one on a breakfast place in Salt Lake Valley at Hub and Spoke Diner.
Also, check out my tutorial on how to grow the best coffee at Colombia Coffee Plantation.