On Vacation Part 2: Captain Jack’s Restaurant

Jim Luff
Posted on July 7, 2010
A TEAM TO REMEMBER: How do you orchestrate sumptuous service with style and smiles? I found out on vacation. . .
ABOUT PHOTO 1: Jim and Hillary Luff enjoy dinner at Captain Jack's in Huntington Beach with a giant fish tank full of tropical fish as part of the decor.
HUNTINGTON BEACH, Calif Over the next few LCT blog columns, I will discuss various service levels I experienced while on vacation and how they relate to delivering excellent customer service in our industry. Building on my vacation series last year, this “second season” has covered the hotel experience and will include restaurants, limousine service, and a golf club.
Captain Jack’s is a 34-year-old family owned restaurant along the famed Pacific Coast Highway in Huntington Beach. The restaurant is known for seafood and prime rib, along with great service, relaxed atmosphere, scenic views, a sophisticated wine list, and fantastic desserts. Before we headed out on vacation, we began asking the hotel staff and strangers we met at the hotel where the best place to eat was in Huntington Beach. The answer was a resounding nod to Captain Jack’s by all. We went to look it up on the Internet and were disappointed to find that the Captain doesn’t have a web site. Apparently, marketing isn’t an issue for Captain Jack's.
Wouldn’t you love to be the limo service that all the local people refer out-of- towners to? When we farm orders out to a city where we don't have an affiliate, I think we owe it to our clients to call around and check with the locals instead of just calling the guy that signed up with the NLA. Chances are a member of the NLA will be the company the local chamber or convention bureau recommends because they are likely involved in the community. This puts a new perspective in selecting someone to take care of my clients in another city. Obviously Captain Jack’s has a solid reputation with the locals.
The restaurant itself is not exactly what you would expect from a steak or seafood restaurant. In fact, with its old-fashioned décor, including dimly lit red lights and rustic wood, the place seems a bit dated and almost like an old neighborhood bar that happens to serve a little grub and offer free valet parking.
By the way, that was proof that an older limousine kept in immaculate condition and operated by a professional chauffeur is indeed acceptable. And throwing something unexpected in makes it even better. The wine list quickly cleared up any confusion at all over what type of restaurant this is with more than 120 bottles of impressive, high-end wines including B.V. Georges De Latour, Jordan Vineyards, and others in the $300 per bottle range. Our table was located next to a giant fish tank that separated two dining rooms. It really added to the nautical theme of the restaurant reminding me that appearance is everything.
We were joined for dinner by two local young ladies that live in the area and who had recommended the location for our dinner party. We also had a friend traveling with us. This gave us the opportunity to see five different menu selections up close and personal. I am just going to tell you that my plate was piled with king crab legs to the point they were falling off the plate and I had to get an extra “working plate” to crack the crabs and another for shells. The food was plentiful and delicious. 
One thing that kept us here for hours was the service. We were introduced to several servers when we were seated by one main server who explained that these other three people would be part of our service team during the night. They truly did work our table together like a well oiled machine. They treated us as if we were old friends that came there all the time. We even shared a glass of wine with our server who of course had to leave it on our table but she drank with us. Again, I was reminded of how every person in our company from the person that takes the reservation to the car-washer, the chauffeur and even accounting personnel are all part of the team that provides service for each individual ride.
The grand finale of the night was dessert. How we managed to eat dessert is beyond me but the presentation was spectacular enough that we told our server that we would take one of each. There was no disappointment here. 
Vacations can clearly help us to see a much bigger picture of our business if we step back and analyze what our own expectations are and how we feel when they are met or not.
— Jim Luff, LCT Contributing Editor
ABOUT PHOTO 2: Huntington Beach locals Jenn Loyd and Kelly Driscoll recommended Captain Jack's.
ABOUT PHOTO 3: Desserts topped off the evening.  Presentation is everything. 

Related Topics: customer service, Jim Luff

Jim Luff Contributing Editor
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