Popular restaurants that often have a loyal, albeit freezing, fan base waiting in line outside, are taking extra measures to ensure guest satisfaction. Dominique Ansel, Shake Shack, Tom’s Restaurant in Brooklyn, and the West Village outpost of Magnolia Bakery are a few retailers that give special treatment to guests waiting in the cold.
Mr. Ansel offers “Winter Pass” tickets, similar to a “Fast Pass” ticket at theme parks like Disney World, that grant customers who arrive from 7-8am the option to pick up a ticket, arrive two hours later, cut the line and receive their Cronut. It’s not uncommon for lines to wrap around the block as early as 5am at Dominique Ansel. As soon as staff arrives to open the trendy SoHo bakery, they begin passing out hot chocolate and madeleine samples to patient customers braving the cold. Mr. Ansel even considered installing heat lamps outside but later vetoed that idea for logistics reasons.
Shake Shack hands out hot chocolate to guests outside each time it snows, and heat lamps are situated in the vicinity of outdoor seating areas. Tom’s Restaurant offers a melange of samples including cookies, coffees, pieces of pancakes, waffles and French toast, which never fails to alleviate the vexation of queuing outside. Magnolia Bakery delivers samples year-round, including their famous banana pudding.
Retailers can take note of these examples of winter generosity. Sometimes all it takes is a few hot chocolate samples to prevent customers from second-guessing their decision to wait on line outside.