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

“Egg nog?”
“We’re out.”
“Chocolate milk?”
“We’re out,” replied Judy, the lackluster Denny’s waitress, only to add they’re also out of hot apple pie. What an experience!

You’ve seen the scene.

It’s Christmas eve and Scott Calvin burned the turkey for his and his son, Charley’s, dinner in Disney’s The Santa Claus. Already disappointed that he has to spend Christmas with his disengaged father, this Denny’s customer experience only added to Charley’s despondent date with dad.

While this year has not carried the typical dining experience with it, let’s take a look at a couple restaurant customer experiences straight out of our holiday movies: The Santa Claus with Tim Allen vs A Christmas Story

Side by side, these examples paint an enlightening picture about customer experience, even in our day 25-35 years later.


Judy, the waitress from Santa Claus   

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.


Judy, the waitress

  • Seats them quickly 👍
  • Eggnog? We’re out. 👎 No substitute offered.
  • Chocolate Milk? We’re out. 👎 No substitute offered.
  • Hot apple Pie? Nope, not that either. 👎 No substitute offered.


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 nor leave a 5-star review. Giving Judy the benefit of the doubt, it is Christmas Eve, a time when most, including herself, have other places they’d rather be. With that said, we know there were other reasons 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.


Contrast that scene to Chop Suey Palace in A Christmas Story. 


Chop Suey Palace in A Christmas Story

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 the local Chinese restaurant, Chop Suey Palace. 

The family was the only occupants of the restaurant. So, the workers went above and beyond for them.


Chop Suey Palace’s Owner:

  • Served them personally 👍
  • Had employees serenade them 👍
  • Made them laugh by chopping a duck’s head off 👍

The experience was hardly conventional, but one thing’s for certain...it was memorable.

So much in life is pretty forgettable, but great experiences leave indelible memories and memorable experiences are the ones that get talked about for good or bad. 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.”

You better believe that these customer experiences from Santa Claus and A Christmas Story would be shared on social media in 2020. Now that experiences like these live in the collective social memory, understanding them collectively is essential to truly understanding and managing your brand’s reputation effectively.


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Awarded 2020’s Best Social Analytics Platform by Martech and Best Reputation Management Software by Crozdesk, Nuvi is able to help Enterprise businesses, both global single brand and multi-location with localized presences, understand their audience and reputation and provide tools to better that reputation.   



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