Jill’s Place (632 Santa Barbara St., 805-963-0378, jillsplacesb.com) began as a modest deli in 1987, but has grown into a favorite watering hole for Santa Barbara locals. From riding the turbulent economic waves and keeping her staff happy to catering for hundreds and embracing social media, Jill Shalhoob has learned the ropes of running a busy steak house. Here’s what Shalhoob has learned during her tenure.
Is the customer always right?
Definitely. It’s a service business, so keeping the customer happy is priority number one. Do I always want to make them right? No, but it’s important to do so, no matter what.
Do customers take comfort in seeing the same food or do they respond better to specials, deals, and something new?
Many of our lunch and dinner customers are regulars who order the same thing every time, so changing up the menu too much causes waves. However, we have expanded by doing guest-chef wine dinners and offering interesting happy-hour specials. Everyone likes a deal!
What are 10 things you’ve learned?
1) Consistency is key, with food, service, and employees.
2) Give a drink a fun name, and it sells better.
3) Buttermilk fried chicken and rib eye steak are favorites.
4) Regardless of diet trends, locals love starch.
5) Photos posted on Facebook motivate customers to come in.
6) When catering for 200 guests, waiting to cut chicken in half means saving my wrist 200 more turns on the grill.
7) The energy of the restaurant has to be fun to keep customers coming back.
8) People want me there 24/7, but I have to make time for myself, too.
9) My grandmother’s split pea soup recipe stands the test of time.
10) Big anniversaries like this make it hard to hide my real age.