An Unexpected Discovery

Recently in the Boston area for a two-day meeting with clients, one of my colleagues and I were searching for a new dining experience. We wanted some place fresh, unique, local and willing to customize the menu for a vegan. After researching some Yelp Reviews, we found 51 Lincoln. Their website sounded just like what we were looking for:

51 Lincoln’s core philosophy revolves around the principles of quality, value, and creativity. The best ingredients, a passion for flavor, innovation, and attention to detail are the foundation of what we offer our guests.

Ok, reservation booked! After a 30-minute cab ride (which was supposed to be 10 minutes – long story), we arrived.  As we found the non-descript entrance that we assumed was the front door, a couple walking out noticed our uncertain looks and assured us that we were in the right place and remarked on what amazing food we were about to eat.  We walked through thick velvet curtains into a softly lit, warm and bustling room. It appeared that everyone knew each other and we were instantly happy to be part of the scene. The hostess asked for our names and began leading us through the dining room to the back and then to the stairs… to the basement? She turned around and said, “I hope you don’t mind, we have overflow seating downstairs.” Not what we had in mind. Overflow? Being in the events industry, we know what that means… the “other room.” Instantly a bit skeptical, we followed her down the stairs and past the restrooms. Brighter lighting, cooler air and dimming excitement met us along the way. Then she led us into a small room… the wine cellar! Intimately set with only a few other tables occupied, we sat down and our neighbors welcomed us. We sat, reassured.

As foodies and regular business travelers, our expectations were high and anything a little different than what we were accustomed to immediately give us pause. But it got me thinking about the experience that we offer our clients in the events industry and how we talk about creating the unexpected, triggering emotions, and crafting the story a little differently every time. It’s exactly what 51 Lincoln did it in under five minutes.  Belief, trust and vision were all required on our part; otherwise we would have turned around, walked out and end up at the same restaurant we have been eating at on our monthly trips to the area – “the incumbent.” Don’t get me wrong, that restaurant is yummy, serves great wine and offers great service… but it’s the same every time and we wanted a little change.

The rest of our evening continued to be full of lovely interactions with people, both staff and other guests. It was instant rapport. There was the polite and shy busboy from Colombia who was thrilled to hear of my travels in his country and practiced his English by telling us all about the menu. Then there was the sommelier who was patient and informative with our choices and even gave us free glasses of wine at the end of our meal. There was the amazing vegan meal that the chef created presented in a custom made edible nest that was almost too beautiful to eat! Every detail was spot on and consistent with their philosophy and brought us on a dining journey that peaked all of our senses, filled our bellies and left us wanting to do it again.

Have a look at their website:

Erin Warnock, Account Manager, InVision Communications, New York

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