The Pit – Authentic Customer Service & Barbecue

Written by Vance Fitzgerald. Posted in Customer Experience, North Carolina, Raleigh

My dad and I had lunch at The Pit today…
I’ll start with noting that I’ve lived in Eastern NC, and I grew up in Western NC.  I love Eastern NC Barbecue, Western NC Barbecue, Central Hybrid NC Barbecue, Northern.. you get the picture.  I love barbecue, and I don’t discriminate when it comes to barbecue based on region.  Most importantly though – I don’t do restaurant reviews. There are plenty of food buffs that are much more influential than me that have raved about The Pit anyway.  It is widely known how great the food is, so aside from saying that ‘it was fantastic,’ I’m going to leave most of the food critique to those better in the know.

Customer Listening
What I am passionate about is customer listening and exceeding expectations (and from a business standpoint – driving returns from that investment as they fall out along the passionate path). If you happen to have read my post on Customer Listening then you know that a lot of my focus is on data driven listening. In this world – no doubt it is critical beyond belief. But today at The Pit was another fantastic reminder that customer listening, by any means necessary, is ultimately about wowing everyone to the extent possible, every time you get a chance. So this is NOT a restaurant review.  It is simply a great example of how to listen, act, and exceed customer expectations.

Here is my story from today:
I navigated through the future metropolis known as Raleigh’s Warehouse District, and dropped my dad in front of The Pit – Authentic Barbecue restaurant. By the time I parked the car, peeked in the windows of the now famous Raleigh Denim and hoofed it up the alley, dad had struck up a conversation with a chef that had stepped out front. Dad’s Winston-Salem (Western NC) roots meant that I had to sell him on trying The Pit by touting their unbelievable Western NC BBQ Sauce.  Suffice it to say that the Western NC sauce is fantastic (just to stick with my limited food-review theme).  The conversation dad was having with the gentleman out front was around Eastern NC BBQ vs. Western NC BBQ, and how he hadn’t found anywhere in Raleigh that had a western NC red slaw. The Pit doesn’t have red slaw on the menu either, nor do most Eastern NC BBQ restaurants as far as I know.

I was hungry though, so I busted up the discussion and we ventured in.  Shortly after ordering – the chef came over to our table and told us that he was prepping some red slaw for us, to prove he could do it right.  That’s pretty cool.  At that point he introduced himself. He was Darrell Brown, The Pit’s Executive Chef. After a brief chat about Tarboro NC, barbecue prep and sauce preferences, Darrell disappeared into the back. As our food arrived, sure enough, so did Darrell.  And there it was – his customer specific above and beyond over-delivery, his fantastic red slaw.  So as noted – this isn’t a food review. (but off-the-record it was as good as any Western NC red slaw I’ve tasted)

Clearly this isn’t about red slaw, or red sauce, or even barbecue.  This is about hustle stats, passion, pride, and delivering above and beyond for a customer.  And not just customers with high Klout scores or Gold Service levels.  ALL customers.  Customers that you’ve never met before, regardless of whether you think they are locals or passers through.  I could also frame this as North Carolina hospitality, business genius, or competitive juices making Darrell prove his chefpertise.  I’m certain there was a little bit of all three in Darrell’s recipe.  But part of the genius was that it was natural, and what I can tell you is that this is the second time in a row that I have been absolutely WOW’ed by the service I’ve received from The Pit. In fact, I had spent the entire drive there telling dad about the last time I visited with my son and that we were treated with unbelievable hospitality. Today I spent the entire drive home thinking about telling other people about it. That’s a lot of thinking about a barbecue experience.

Darrell’s Red Slaw Recipe:
  • Listen to your customers
  • Act with empowerment
  • Exceed expectations
  • Make every customer leave WANTING to write about it and share their experience

Thanks Darrell for an amazing recipe!
BTW – The food was great too.

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Vance Fitzgerald

Entrepreneur. Business Analyst with a passion for innovation, customer success & driving revenue.
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