Friday in class, Gary talked to us about his theory on the curve of expectation. We’ve always been taught to under promise and over deliver. This goes hand in hand with the curve of expectation. He gave used an example about Nordstrom, a company that is known for its top class customer service, from of the book The Nordstrom Way.
A man, George*, went into the flagship store in Seattle to buy a tailored suit on lets say Tuesday and needed it by Friday for his flight out to Chicago. When George went back into Nordstrom on Friday before he headed to the airport to pick up his fitted suit, it was not ready. Bob* felt horrible that he had not achieved what he had promised his customer. Bob then proceeded to ask George his hotel information in Chicago and assured him the suit would arrive at his hotel before he needed it the next day. After checking into his hotel and settled in his room, George had a knock at his door; it was Bob hand delivering his tailored suit. Bob had booked the next flight out of Seattle to Chicago in order to get his customer’s suit to him in time. Nordstrom was unaware of this customer service for several months. Since then, Bob was reimbursed and became a prime example of “the Nordstrom way.” George never expected his suit to be hand delivered from Bob to his hotel room…his expectations of Nordstrom’s customer service was blown away.
Gary then challenged us to think of a restaurant or store that blew our expectations away. The food lover that I am immediately thought of Ino, a hole in the wall panino place in Florence. (Side note, panini is plural for sandwich in Italian so you order a panino not a panini.) Ino is tucked away in a side street behind the Uffizi. It wasn’t until around this time last year that my friends and I discovered this hidden treasure. While we were venturing around the back streets of Florence attempting to get on screen or at least get a glimpse of Tom Hanks while he was filming Inferno (it was a success I might add), we stumbled upon Ino. We had had roughly 75 panini at this point and tried every place recommended to us so we had a decent high bar of expectation. The menu at Ino wasn’t very big and didn’t have many of the items we normally put on our sandwiches. A lot of the time I would order the same thing at every place so I could judge accordingly to which place was the best. (Turkey, brie, with black truffle) I asked the lady behind the counter what she recommended and she said the “Ale” (pronounced All-le). This sandwich had Toscano salami (totally different that the salami you can buy at the store in the US), herb crusted pecorino (can’t find this either, trust me I’ve tried), and a “Mediterranean salsa.” This “salsa” scared me but I’ll try anything so I ordered it.
This sandwich blew us out of the water. It was by far THE best panino I got my entire time abroad and in my life. It’s so good that I can’t even describe it to you. We went back at least every other day to get this beloved sandwich until the day we left. Between one of my friends and I, we bought out the store of the little jars of salsa (which is like a pepper jelly) to bring back to the US. I’ve tried to recreate this magical sandwich multiple times but nothing is quite the same. I even got all of my ingredients at Eataly in Chicago which was probably my closest bet to finding anything close.
If you are ever in Florence, you have to go to Ino and eat an ale for me! I promise you won’t regret it.
*details are made up because I don’t remember the exact names or dates but that part is irrelevant to the story