While sitting at 44 Stone this past Sunday, I sat back and watched the morning unfold in front of me-
- My son interacting with the wait staff, and they truly looked like they enjoyed themselves.
- I met someone from Twitter ( @ScottMRowson ) face to face – which was cool.
- My wife make her first Tweet (from @Debi_Bell ) “for real”
- I talked with Dave on upcoming beers that will be going on tap (I’m looking forward to the Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti)
- I met another regular (Mike), and had a great conversation about the state of Craft Brewing, Breweries in CoMO and we compared Beer Adventures across the US.
- I saw friendly faces everywhere and people enjoying them selves.
How does a business get to this point in just over a year – especially when the owners/staff had huge shoes to fill with taking over from Hemmingway’s.
I think it can be summarized by them following three basic steps -
They listen to criticism and positive feedback
If you are a frequent reader, you know that I attended their Soft Opening back in February 2011. There were some things I was critical about, and some I was positive. I gave feedback – and to be honest, they reviewed and took action. Dave and Mark are constantly “Visible” in the restaurant and are always keen for feedback from patrons.
As I said above, when you have the owners being this visible, you know they are committed to excellence at every level. This trickles down through the staff, and I love how everyone will go to great lengths to make things right. The entire staff goes out of their way to recognize return customers, and that translates into even better service.
Anecdotal evidence I have heard – One waitress remembered a customer more than 6 weeks later after his last visit, recalling what he had to drink then and thus making a recommendation based on the current tap selection. I think he was flattered that she remembered, but its been my experience that this level of attention to detail spills over to the entire staff.
For me, I find the staff incredibly knowledgeable about the various offerings they have behind the bar. Not only do they know the products, but I find them continuously trying to improve that knowledge and learn more each time there is a change in rotation. This is paramount to success.
They are innovative and constantly changing
44 Stone has one of the most aggressive menus and beer lists in Columbia, hands down. Their daily specials are exciting, their brunch is excellent and without a doubt they have the best rotating beer list in Columbia.
When they say – Imitation is the greatest for of flattery, one only needs to look at other restaurants in CoMO to see the impact 44 Stone has had – both Broadway Brewery has trended now towards a Gastro-Pub menu, and Flatbranch have recently copied the 44 Stone Burger with the Chefs Burger - down to the egg on top.
44Stone Burger vs Flatbranch Burger
The tap list is a continual evolution, and for beer connoisseurs – this may be the only opportunity to try unique beers. Throw in the proposed expanded Tap – and I would say the pub will have THE best beer selection in Mid-Missouri. Throw in the unsung premium whisky and Scotch listing behind the bar, plus the competent bar staff mixing drinks and there is something for everyone.
I cannot speak highly enough about 44 Stone – they are a shining light in Forum area of Columbia. If you are looking for a nice night out, or maybe a delicious Sunday Brunch – this is one of the few places where you cannot go wrong.
To me, with just a little over a year under their belt, I think Mark and Dave have gone a long way to standing above the rest – and I have almost forgotten about Hemmingway's – it is nothing but a distant memory.