I Should Have Known Better

Every Tuesday night, my husband and I have ‘Date Night’. (Don’t worry. This blog DOES pertain to dentistry. You’ll have to read it all the way through to see where this is going.) It’s a special time that we reserve just for us.  It’s a chance for us to unwind, to decompress, and to clear our heads. Normally, we go to dinner and then head over to our favorite art theater to see a cool independent film. Cleveland has a lot of charming restaurants and we are always asking friends for recommendations for new places.

Two weeks ago we were talking to Deb, the owner of a hair salon right next to our office. I asked her what her favorite restaurant was, and before she answered, she paused.

“Well, have you ever heard of the Grovewood Tavern?”

We hadn’t.

“Well, ” she continued, “it’s kind of ummm different.”


“Yes, it’s in the worst neighborhood. The decor is totally outdated. It’s in a dingy building that smells a little on the inside. But, the people there are SO friendly and the food is to die for. My husband and I go there all the time.”

Despite her explanation, or maybe BECAUSE of it we headed out to the Grovewood Tavern the very next ‘Date Night’.

Last Tuesday after work, we excitedly hopped on the freeway to begin our journey. After a short time, we consulted the GPS, exited at 185th St, and began navigating our way through the streets. We turned down Grovewood and found that it was a residential street. The houses there were old and rundown, and some were even boarded up. Our excitement quickly turned to confusion and concern.

We passed the Grovewood Tavern twice before we actually saw it. Being a residential area, there wasn’t any parking. We had to park on the next street and walk. This is a picture I snapped on the way out. In the dark, the sign is lit up, so it’s easier to see. In the daylight, forget about it.

Grovewood Tavern

I slowly walked up to the door, and turned to my husband. “Do you think we should leave?” I asked.

“Are you kidding?” my husband replied. “It’s got to be safer in there than out here.”

So I opened that red door and in we went.

Immediately I was hit with that musty odor that Deb warned us of. But, I was also hit with something else-a very friendly voice.

“Welcome to the Grovewood Tavern!” someone  from behind the bar called out. “Do you have a reservation?”

I’m not going to lie, my first thought was, “This place takes reservations? Why?” Instead, I smiled and said, “No.”

“No problem! I’m John, and I can seat you right away!”

As we were whisked away from the bar side and over to the restaurant, I glanced around at the decor. Deb was right again. There were white Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling, random pictures on the walls, and there was no escaping that mild odor. The look to the restaurant really had me doubting the food, but because we’re so adventurous, we forged ahead.

Here’s a pic of the inside that I snagged from their website, so you can get the full effect.


(Naturally, it all looks a little nicer on their website than it does in person.)

No sooner than John had seated us that we were greeted by our very friendly server, Nicole. She took us through the menu, described the specials, and made some recommendations. When she left to get our drinks, my husband and I looked at each with wide eyes. What had we gotten ourselves into?

We had reached the point of no return.

I took a closer look at the menu. Sure, it all looked good on paper. But what in the world would the food in this place TASTE like?

I decided on the Blackberry Salmon. My husband chose the Filet and Shrimp. While we waited for our food, Nicole brought us some bread with  garlic and olive oil. “Here we go” I thought. I swirled a piece of bread in the oil and took a bite. The second I I bit into it, I froze. At that instant, my eyes almost popped out of my head.

It was incredibly delicious! If this was ANY indication on how the rest of the meal was going to go, I was SOLD! At that moment, I let out a sigh and my shoulders relaxed. This might be ok after all.

After a short while, Nicole brought out our salads which also did not disappoint. The dressing was light and the Arugula was fresh. With each minute, I found myself enjoying the Grovewood Tavern more and more, although I was still curious as to what dinner would be like.

It was about this time I noticed that the restaurant was becoming quite crowded. Despite this, Nicole never seemed rushed or busy. She continued to treat us like we were her only customers.

Once the salad plates were removed, Nicole returned with dinner. Now, sitting in front of me on a brightly colored place was my Blackberry Salmon, with risotto, and carrots. I wish I would have taken a picture of it. Gordon Ramsey would have been proud. It looked ALMOST too good to eat. But no worries, I ate it. My dinner at the Grovewood Tavern was one of the BEST meals I’ve ever eaten. My husband and I shared our meals a bit and he was equally impressed. Boy did we incorrectly judge a book by it’s cover!

Like I said before, this is what we do on Tuesdays. We go to restaurants. We know a lot of places. Never before have I been compelled to actually write about the experience, but it was THAT good. Not only was the good THAT good, but the service was THAT good. I cannot wait to go back.

I spent a lot of time thinking about our Grovewood experience. Here are my conclusions:

It IS possible for a business to survive and THRIVE despite it’s obviously terrible (and rather unsafe!) location.

If you provide EXCELLENT customer service and turn out an EXCELLENT product you can overcome other obstacles.

So how does all of this apply to dentistry? Providing EXCELLENT customer service means treating each patient like they are the only patient in your office. Turning out an EXCELLENT product means that you offer services that your patients want and that you do good dentistry. If your office isn’t in the best location-that’s ok. Just because you don’t have an office in Beverly Hills doesn’t mean that you can’t treat your patients like celebrities. People will go an extra few miles to see you if they feel you are worth it. I’m going to the Grovewood Tavern again because it’s WORTH it!

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One other thing. I “checked in” at the Grovewood on Facebook that night and was really surprised that a handful of my friends knew it existed. Here’s a screen shot of that. Notice no one mentioned the outdated decor or the awful location.

If you’re ever in Cleveland, let me know. I know of a great place to have dinner!

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  1. Love it! It is so true…Excellent Customer Service and and Excellent product will grow any business…Peole will not always remember what you told them, but they will never forget how you made them feel! The made you feel special and you will go back!