Note:

This blog is now retired. My new site is at: Predictably Irrational.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Chain Reaction

Just as I post about supporting local, I go and dine with two chains. Shame on me.

But I have to say, these two chains really went beyond the call of duty and I have to pat them on the back for that extra special touch that is usually not available in chains.

Jason's Deli (jasonsdeli.com) - we frequented the Spring Forest location back when we lived closer to it. A favorite among Tim and the girls...me, it was pretty good, but I'm not a big sandwich person. This has since changed after my trip to Amsterdam where, well, a sandwich can be a gourmand's dream. So, Jason's Deli is no 'tosti' but it is quite good. And the fact that they were one of the first to eliminate trans fat from the products they use, well, that says a lot.

I decided to check out their website right after we got back from our vacation. I noticed the "Order on-line" button and decided to try it out. I waited for the "not available in your area" warning, but it never came up. I placed an on-line order with the Brier Creek location, in which we live approximately five miles from, and sure enough, our food came right to our door.

A couple of days ago, I decided to give them another try. On-line ordering with them is really easy and nice. You can substitute, you can name who's entree it belongs to...just a really good online ordering system, IMO. There are set times in which the user can select to have food delivered, which is at least 45 minutes out from the time of the online order. Well, since we were busy figuring out what we wanted, my order time had 'expired' to the required 45 minute minimum gap for delivery. My only option was to pick the next range of time. No problem for me.

My phone rang about 15 minutes later and I thought, I bet it's Jason's Deli, prepared to tell me that they can't deliver to my location, or that my credit card didn't go through...you know, call when there's a problem. Instead, the guy on the phone said "Um, we can deliver your food now, if you'd like." What? You are asking me if you can deliver now, instead of just doing it?

No, I didn't say that...I said "That would be great!" but really, call to ask permission to deliver earlier? I was impressed and they are now on my "To order online" list.

Domino's Pizza (dominospizza.com) - of course, I'm one of the many who has ordered from Dominos for YEARS. I remember "Avoid the Noid" and ordering pizzas as a teenager. They are good -- I like their buffalo kickers -- but when they introduced their Brooklyn Style pizza last year, WOW. This pizza is second to The Salty Dog's Pizza in Hilton Head for an extraordinary, ordinary, old-fashioned, greasy pizza. I LOVE IT. Sure, it's no gourmet pizza with basil, romas, fresh buffalo mozzarella and portobellos, but Dominos is not meant to be _that_ pizza place.

For as long as I've ordered from Domino's, they have been inaccessible via online ordering for me. As recently as two months ago, I could not order online from them. Papa John's, on the other hand, has had their system in place for years. I ordered online at my old house!

But for that Brooklyn style pizza, I sacrifice and actually speak to a person on the phone. But as luck would have it, I looked at the site last night and sure enough, on-line ordering was alive for me.

But what made the online ordering experience unique for me, and for a franchise like Dominos, is that it has a pizza tracker. What is a pizza tracker? It's a real-time process tracker of your pizza order. From the moment the order is placed, the tracker displays who looked at your order, who put it in the oven and at what time, when it was taken out, and when it's on the road.

I kid you not. I followed the tracker with delight. James put my pizza in the oven. And then Eric took it out for delivery. I thought that these names must be stubs for us online folks who spent 15 minutes staring at the tracker, waiting for the update.

So when the pizza delivery guy pulled into my driveway, Brenna and I were waiting for him. Just as he got out of the car, and after I said a nice "Hello", I drilled into him:
me: What is your name?
taken-aback-pizza-delivery-guy: Eric.
me: REALLY?! OH MY GOD! YOU REALLY ARE THE GUY ON THE PIZZA TRACKER!
Eric: nodding his head, with a befuddled look.
me: THAT IS TOO COOL! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU HAD YOUR NAME ON IT! AND JAMES COOKED MY PIZZA!! THAT IS TOO COOL! I LOVE IT!
Eric: Enjoy your pizzas!
me: I JUST THINK THAT IS TOO COOL!
Eric gets in the car to escape.

So, I'm tickled pink at these two experiences with chains...ironically, on the heels of my post to urge you all to go local.

I am a hypocrite.

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