Non-Transactional Transactions

“The SMOQUE experience is GREAT FOOD and GREAT SERVICE delivered with PASSION, PRIDE, and ENTHUSIASM to every customer, every time.”

As a member of the management team at the original Smoque location on Pulaski, I was tasked with making sure that the above mission statement was understood and carried out by our entire staff. When we decided to make the leap into the downtown market, our concern was adapting that experience to the fast pace that would inevitably be required to succeed in the Loop.

I’ve been in the restaurant & service industry for over 20 years. I started washing dishes as a kid for my family’s businesses, worked at sandwich shops all through high school, at diners in college, and everything in between ever since. My experiences have taught me that customer service doesn’t always mean the same thing everywhere. At Smoque, I can say without a doubt, we value customer service in a way that no other restaurant I have worked for does.

How? We take it personally. We have a close relationship with many of our regulars and know each other by sight and by name. We know what they’re going to order before they tell us. We really try to go above and beyond to make our customers happy. I love that about our shop.

So then, how do you adapt a system and set of practices built around a casual, neighborhood dining experience to accommodate the needs of a very different set of diners? People who have a limited amount of time to eat who need food fast but are not expecting fast food? How do you perform quick transactions that do not feel transactional to the customer? Based on my experience at Revival, it takes a lot of hard work, effort, and reinforcement with your team. It also takes a bit of good luck.

We were lucky with the people we hired. With the exception of myself and our Prep Manager Monica, everyone else down here is new to our organization. This crew has been very open to learning our way of doing things and executing our values. They have learned and grown with us as we have found our way in this new market.

We were lucky with our neighbors. Our cohorts at Revival Food Hall have shown they care just as much about their food and service to the customer as we do about ours. It’s a morale booster when everyone is headed in the same direction and working toward the same goals.

We were lucky with the space we have to work in. Revival Food Hall is one of the best configured and well-equipped foodservice spaces I have had the pleasure of working in. It’s made doing our job well and satisfying our customers that much easier for us.

Finally, we were lucky with our customers. This was a new concept a year ago. Our guests knew about as much as we did about this place when we opened, which wasn’t much. Over time we’ve learned how to work together, adapted our menu to their needs, and discovered how we fit in their day, and how they fit in ours. I usually work the meat station and take customer orders during the busy lunch hours. Now, just like our location on Pulaski, I am on a first name basis with many of our regular Revival customers, and know exactly what they want before they order.

It hasn’t always been easy, but I can now honestly say that with our second location at Revival Food Hall, we are successfully delivering great food and great service, delivered with passion, pride, and enthusiasm to every customer, every time.

Just a bit faster.

Jesus “Chuy” Contreras
Manager, Smoque BBQ at RFH