A Christmas tree with red baubles and gold pine trees on them. This picture is accompanied with the title- A Christmas Restaurant Experience: The Santa Clause vs A Christmas Story
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Christmas Restaurant Experiences: The Santa Clause vs A Christmas Story

The holidays are a wonderful time of year to be with family, relax from work (a little at least), and engage in holiday traditions. The best traditions, many would say, are enjoying the Christmas movie classics. 

While we won’t go into all of them today, we wanted to highlight two fantastic scenes from The Santa Clause and A Christmas Story- the scenes in the restaurants.

Denny’s Judy

The Santa Clause, 1994 Walt Disney Pictures

Anyone who’s watched The Santa Clause knows that Scott Calvin was not the best dad. He had a hard time connecting with his son and barely even seemed like he really wanted to. His son, Charlie, wanted nothing to do with him. Then, Scott burned the turkey. Charlie was not surprised.

So, where’d they go for Christmas Eve dinner? Denny’s- “An American Institution.” 

Now, forgetting what we know of Scott and Charlie, let’s pretend they are just normal customers– customers that burned the turkey and just want some Christmas Eve dinner– and let’s look at the waitress’s, Judy, interaction with them.

Overall, her interaction with them could be considered neutral at best and slightly negative at worst. When they arrive, she does quickly seat them, which is lucky considering how many guests were in the restaurant. However, when she hears that Scott burned the turkey, her attitude changes immediately. Instead of being consoling or trying to ease any embarrassment this parent may have she says, almost out of the corner of her mouth and with a near eye roll, “Oh, yeah. This way. Come on.”

The Santa Clause, 1994 Walt Disney Pictures

Scott shows no reaction to her words or tone, but many of us would feel shame or embarrassment just by her reaction to our child’s announcement that we burned the turkey. Instead, it might have gone a long way to say, “No worries. We got a table for you right over here.” Something that soothes and supports the customer.

The rest of the scene is short and to the point. Judy smiles as she takes their order, and tells them everything they would like is gone. While there is nothing employees can really do when the food is gone, maybe she could have told them what they did have.

This scene is memorable to the audience of The Santa Clause, but, if this were a real situation, Scott and Charlie likely wouldn't be motivated to return just based on that one experience. We know there were other reasons behind why they might not have fond memories of their experience at Denny’s, but the fact remains that Judy did little to improve the situation.

Chop Suey Palace

A Christmas Story, 1983 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Unlike Scott Calvin, the turkey in A Christmas Story was not burned. It was eaten by dogs. So, the Parker family went in search of Christmas dinner and found it at a local Chinese restaurant. 

The family was the only occupants of the restaurant. So, the workers went above and beyond for them. Three workers attempt to sing Christmas favorites in thick Chinese accents while the family, especially the mother, try to contain their laughter. The owner of the establishment, and a more seasoned veteran of the English language, tries to correct his worker’s singing to “la, la, la” instead of “ra, ra, ra.” Upon their inability to make the change, he tells them to sing another song, which is arguably worse.

Always thinking of his customers, the owner quickly shoos the singers to the back, telling them to bring out some food. As the singers leave, the staple of the meal is placed before them. The wife screams at the duck’s cooked head that faces her, the two sons eagerly lean closer to the specimen, and the father looks confused. The owner, concerned, tries to find out what’s wrong. The father finally comes up with something and says, “It’s smiling at me.” The owner immediately picks up the knife and chops the head off to the shock of the whole family.

A Christmas Story, 1983 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

As the older, narrating voice of Ralphie says, “That Christmas would live in our memories as the Christmas when we were introduced to Chinese turkey. All was right with the world.”

While the Denny’s interaction paled in comparison to the other events of that night for Scott and his son, the Chinese restaurant event for the Parker family lived on. In fact, they were introduced to “Chinese turkey”, so they likely had it again. In trying to please the Parker family, the workers at the restaurant made the event unforgettable and even a treasured memory. 

It doesn't have to perfect, but going above and beyond to create a good customer experience through personable interactions between employees and customers can go a long way toward establishing positive associations with your brand in your customer's minds.

Check out our Customer Experience Guide! Have a wonderful Christmas!

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