It was a beautiful Good Friday morning, and the ferry terminal was packed. As online reservations were entirely booked, we threw caution to the wind and attempted to get the 9:20 sailing. 

We didn't make it.

On the upside, we were definitely on the 11:30 sailing and had about 2 hours to kill on a leisurely breakfast overlooking the bay. Unsurprisingly, we weren't the only ones who decided to make use of the extra time by filling our faces. Line-ups spilled out on to the sidewalks of every eatery and coffee shop in picturesque Horseshoe Bay. Even the 7-11 was at maximum capacity.

We chose the olive + anchor, a little gourmet, organic free-range whole food kind of establishment. It used to house Ya-Yas Oyster Bar, and was transformed by the next generation family members of Ya-Yas original owners.

We were seated more rapidly than expected and happily took in the view.

And waited.

The restaurant was filling and the staff were run off their feet. We had time. The food looked and smelled worth it.

The servers acknowledged us and let us know they were on their way to help. We told them to take their time.

When our friendly but harried server arrived, she looked a little concerned. There was a problem.

“We've run out of eggs. We've actually run out of almost everything.”

She gave us our options: we could leave and find repast elsewhere. Or, we could stay. Beverages and soup would be free.

We watched another table of diners get up quickly and depart. We weighed our options… and took the soup.

As we chatted with the servers we learned that, while the restaurant had been serving dinner successfully for many years, breakfast was a new option that had only been in operation for the previous 5 months. Before Good Friday they'd served no more than 6 breakfasts in a day during that period. From the looks of it, more than 40 people showed up just in the hour that we were there. They'd had to close the doors until lunch, and create a new breakfast strategy for the spring and summer.

I'll be coming back to the olive + anchor whenever I'm in Horseshoe Bay (which is a lot) going forward. Here's why:

  • Communication: in full out stress mode, we can often attempt to hide our shortcomings from those people the shortfalls most strongly affect, like our customers. While the staff and owners weren't excited that they were dealing with a crisis, they were honest and upfront about what they were dealing with and why. Since I'm a human, I can empathize. I appreciated the consideration.
  • Professionalism: regardless of the stress and crisis, this team clearly understood that their problem wasn't our problem. They made sure we were given options and opportunities to take care of what was important to us - getting some food and making the ferry. They understood their role in the customer's day.
  • Service: we were treated courteously and kindly throughout our visit. Just because one piece of the puzzle fell apart, it didn't mean that the entire box was thrown out. They knew that opening their doors to us meant fulfilling a promise. They weren't able to fill 100% of that promise but they tried to fulfill as much as they could.
  • Solutions: they recognized what the problem was, acknowledged where they fell short, apologized, and provided us with a choice of solutions. They even went so far as to let us know that they are strategizing a solution to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Whether I'm working with an employee, a strategic partner, or a service provider, there's one situation that tells me whether they're worth my time: how they handle a crisis.

Crises happen to everyone. They're embarrassing and difficult. Handle it gracelessly and you lose customers. Handle it professionally, and you build loyal clientele.

What finally clinched my return to the olive + anchor? The tomato & gin soup was outstanding.  We didn't receive a bill, but our server received a tip, and the restaurant has 3 returning customers.

Julia Chung wants to live in a world where everyone makes gourmet food, music, and rational decisions. She builds companies like JYC Financial and Admin Slayer, and gets wildly excited about helping entrepreneurs to be successful.