Friday, August 1, 2008

Best Diner in Conshohocken?

...or "What a Difference a Smile Makes"

I've just come back from a great week working in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, at the offices of my new gig, Monetate. As might be expected, given their past successes, Messrs Brussin and Bookspan are putting together an excellent team. And the location at100 Four Falls Corporate Center doesn't hurt.

In fact the location helps, a lot, because, as I quckly discovered, this is an office building with a hidden advantage: A great little diner/deli tucked away on the ground floor. Called the Green Tree, it made going to the office each day more of a treat than a chore. What better way to start the day than with an individually prepared egg and cheese muffin for breakfast, cooked to order and reasonably priced, served with a smile?

Then keep things going mod-morning with some Green Mountain coffee and a fresh banana. Power through lunch with some interesting dishes, including big salads, served with a smile. Then come back on day two and find they remember your name. Day three and the staff are still cheerful and the menu is still fresh? What's with this place?

I began to wonder if it was just me being homesick and getting infatuated. So I hung out there for a while to do some people watching (and job-related research reading). I soon realized that this was one of those rare places where a business and its customers are in love with each other. Like a bartender who remembers your 'usual' on your secondf visit, the staff seemed to be fully engaged in the job of serving up more than just a bite to eat. I saw guys in suits and Rolexes melting at the simple things like remembered preferences and personal details. High power attorneys, including at least one judge, would chat with the staff about stuff like grandkids and plans for the weekend, in what was clearly an ongoing conversation.

By the end of the week I knew I was going to miss the place. On Friday afternoon I dropped by to get a last cup of coffee. A very corporate-looking businessman in a very expensive suit was waiting for a sandwich. I said to him something casual like "Are these guys good or what?" And just like that we were pals, diner buddies. He couldn't say enough good things about the place. This was obviously a guy who could afford to eat anywhere but clearly he'd learned that money can't buy what the Green Tree dishes up.

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