The Beauty of Uneaten Cantaloupe

On a recent business trip to Denver, I was able to grab breakfast at one of my favorite morning spots. Snooze Eatery is a funky, retro-themed breakfast joint with incredible food and service. They have an inventive menu and cool vibe, but so do many other AM cafes. As I sat down, I wondered what made them so special and what compelled me to eat there whenever possible?

I placed an order with Chris, my enthusiastic server. Considering the fruit as a healthier option to home fries, I asked him specifically which fruit they served? His answer blew me away. “All the good stuff!  Raspberries, strawberries, pineapple, and a couple blackberries,” Chris exclaimed. “We used to include cantaloupe, but people always left it behind, so we changed our approach.”

It took me a couple minutes to process it all. Let’s think about this mechanically. In a busy restaurant, as bussers frantically cleared tables to make room for more guests, a mechanism was in place to:

a) Notice what food was left on plates
b) Spot a recurring pattern
c) Care enough to speak up with a suggestion for improvement
d) Elevate to someone in a position of authority
e) Then, the decision maker quickly embraced the change to better serve customers

All despite the fact that berries cost more than melon and that the side-of-fruit contents aren’t even listed on the menu.


Speaking further to Chris, he told me that’s just the way his company rolls. They are constantly tweaking their menu and processes to better delight customers. Even items that sell “pretty well” are quickly replaced with new dishes that will deliver guests something special.

The proverbial leftover cantaloupe is the perfect canary in the coal mine signal for change, but most of us are so busy being heads down in the daily grind we don’t even notice. On the other hand, getting up close and personal to the voice of our customers is what drives competitive advantage.

What are the leftover cantaloupes in your business? When we take time to focus on and improve the little stuff, we’re able to liberate the biggest of gains. Let’s stay on the hunt for those early-warning signs where we may be able to inject a micro-dose of innovation in order to go from a decent alternative to a fan favorite.

Snooze Eatery has a commitment to being extraordinary, even in those small areas that may largely be unnoticed. But think about the message that sends to their team and customers. If they’re going to great lengths to optimize the side of fruit, think how fantastic the rest of their business must be.

So, keep an eye out for the little stuff, those nooks and crannies that can be filled with a little inventive thinking. Embracing this mindset for the long-term will pack more punch than the perfect double espresso I sipped down slowly with my breakfast.

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