It was the final 24 hours of a 3 week visit with my daughter who lives in New Zealand. Her job meant we had to say our goodbyes a full day before my return flight to the US. I was a little melancholy, but she urged me to check out one of her favorite cafés in Auckland, “It’s totally your kind of place, Papa. Just wait!”
I decided to walk from my Airbnb. The hills were so reminiscent of the hills of Istanbul, that I actually felt at home. It reminded me a lot of San Francisco—the cool air, the sun breaking through low clouds and the colorful houses.
After a wonderful 30-minute stroll, I met the early morning buzz of people grabbing their coffees and lattes, buying newspapers, chatting and connecting with each other. The name of the café, LITTLE & FRIDAY, was hand etched on the large glass store front, an oversized community table anchored the front of the café and the abundantly wide counter space overflowed with beautifully tempting delicacies. It was warm, the food all home-made, and the kindness from the people behind the counter made them more family than employees. It felt like I was popping over to a friend’s house for breakfast.
I chose a Spinach, feta and tomato brioche. (I cannot escape that Mediterranean culture of mine!) I added a double macchiato and fresh squeezed oj. I was handed a small plastic orange rhinoceros and asked to place it on my table. The creative way my double macchiato would eventually find me when ready! The atmosphere was serene, yet energized. And the playful mood, along with the the Bob Marley music quietly strumming from the speakers, made for a cozy feeling. In fact, so cozy, that two hours later I was on my second double macchiato, had languished over copies of LITTLE AND FRIDAY’S many cookbooks, and even received a casual dinner invite from the owners at their sister restaurant across the bridge.
I found out over the course of my leisurely stay, that LITTLE AND FRIDAY started off 7 years ago and was only open one day a week—you guessed it…Friday. And there I was sitting among a large gathering of early morning risers, some of whom I learned were 7-day-a-week regulars. What a labor of love this perfect little café! The owners’ philosophy, I was told, is to “make good home-style food, with produce from ethical sources and make customers feel like they are entering the owners’ home.” Mission accomplished!
All of these things are what speak to me when I experience something remarkable, like I did at LITTLE & FRIDAY. The way I feel. The smells in the air. The sounds I hear, the way the food waits to be chosen from the counter, the employees making it feel like the family kitchen and not a business. It all coalesces to make customers feel like an important part of something organic. This is the way I strive to make my own clients feel. Part of an experience, not another night out with colleagues, not another birthday party to attend, not another restaurant meal. But part of an experience, a feeling--something remarkable, something memorable and something joyful.
After a 3-hour recharging of the soul and mental preparation for that 24-hour flight, I finally tore myself away from the table at Little & Friday. I stopped at the counter and asked if they did take out. “We don’t, but is there something I can get you for the walk back?” With a date and orange scone tucked into a brown bag, I ruefully left Little & Friday. As the door closed behind me, Bob Marley “Could you be loved?” whispered through the outside speaker, “Could you be loved?” Yes, I felt very loved.