In the far corner of Southeast Missouri is a town called Sikeston. If you have heard of Sikeston, MO it is probably because of a restaurant called Lambert’s Café. I’ve eaten at Lambert’s a number of times over the years, but don’t recall what I had. I always remember the food being good, but nothing amazing. The menu isn’t what made Lambert’s famous though. Lambert’s is known around the world as “The Home of the Throwed Rolls.
If you are unfamiliar with Lambert’s, the atmosphere is best conveyed on video. You almost have to be on guard at all times while eating there because any stray glance could result in a roll being unintentionally thrown at your head. The rolls aren’t the only thing they give away. Fried potatoes with onions, macaroni with tomatoes, black-eyed peas, fried okra, and sorghum are all handed out free of charge around the dining room. At first glance it makes no sense to give away so much food. Yet this small town restaurant is thriving and has spawned three other locations.
In contrast, several years ago an girlfriend at the time worked for O’Charley’s when they released this video on their website. I immediately declared it the single stupidest marketing move I had ever seen a restaurant make. Why would they spend money to advertise something they are giving away that directly trades off with the things they are trying to sell? It is at exactly 1:53 in that video where they completely missed the point. After relaxing with a couple rolls while considering the menu guests face a decision: buy an appetizer or eat more of these delicious free rolls. Anyone who has ever waited tables can tell you how that decision ends. At the end of the meal, guests ate too many rolls to buy a dessert, but one more roll sounds good.
Read the full post at The Manager’s Office