A few weeks ago we dined at the ‘Garuva Hidden Tranquillity Restaurant’ at the Valley in Brisbane. It was recommended to us by a friend. They did not tell us a lot except that we would find it interesting and that the food was great.

So we made a booking and rocked up. We drove past the street location several times but we could not find it – you see there was no sign outside saying ‘Garuva’. Finally we parked and found the entrance by foot. There was absolutely no sign or even a hint that this was our restaurant. Eventually we found the entrance a darkish corridor with a small fountain on the left hand side.

The hostess greeted us and led us to our table. That is if you can call it a table. The words from the Garuva web site describe it best. “Patrons sit on cushioned rugs on the floor with supported back rests, low tables and very dim lighting. All the tables (or booths) are enclosed by sheer curtains. The atmosphere is very private and especially intimate for couples.”

It has the ambience of an up market ‘Hippie bar’ in Goa, India. I mean that in the nicest possible way. Very Cool!!!

A bit more about the ambience, the music was cool and the sheets surrounding you give you a sense of privacy but you can still see patrons at neighbouring tables.

The service was unique as it felt like you were being served by someone like you, a peer. Almost as if you were a guest at a friend’s house. You were not served by someone who is too young or someone who is just doing a job. Not subservient and fawning and definitely not snobbish.

The staff reminded me of the people who work for Nordstrom the famous department store renowned for its service. They were like owners not employees.

What was the food like? A unique blend of eastern, exotic and modern cuisine.

Typically Garuva is always full. As described on the web site limitations apply on Friday and Saturday nights ” During the week Sunday to Thursday there is no time restriction, but Friday and Saturday nights when the restaurant is fully booked for 2 sittings, the first sitting is for 2 hours only”

Now here is the twist Garuva does not advertise, in fact it has never advertised since 1992.

It relies purely on word of mouth

So what drives word of mouth?

It’s the BUZZ factor. Conversation about Garuva would go along these lines “You know we went to this restaurant that had no sign outside, we had to sit on the ground, in our own cubicle, surrounded by sheets, the food was …..”

What are the lessons for other organisations

  • Everything has to be great if you rely on word of mouth – If any aspect is not up to the mark such as the food, service chances of such strong BUZZ or word of mouth would not have been possible.
  • In this case the conversation would have gone like this “Garuva is interesting BUT …..” as soon as you have a BUT you either get no word of mouth or with a caveat which is actually negative word of mouth.

So the lesson for organisations is to create a unique value proposition and deliver an end-to-end super customer experience with engaged staff.