Bill Humphries knew that more often than not women choose the place to eat when a couple dines out. So he wanted a lighter, airier atmosphere for his restaurant, an ambiance that would appeal to men and women alike. He felt that too many steakhouses are heavy with dark wood. The result is elegant richness in Eddie Merlot’s restaurant decor, much like the food they serve.
“We’d have nothing to do if it wasn’t for the people,” James Khan, manager at Baker Street in Fort Wayne, Indiana, tells his staff. “Don’t focus on easy.” Rather, Baker Street’s focus is on creating a memorable experience for guests.
Khan explained the company’s “humble approach” philosophy to our group of travel writers as we dined on appetizers like Shamini Tuna and Smoked Gouda & Crab Dip.
Baker Street offers fine dining, often costing more than customers normally pay for a meal, so guests expect the best, and Baker Street does everything they can to ensure guests receive both food and service beyond their expectations, according to Khan. Servers don’t work alone until they have been trained for six to eight weeks. In that time they learn that if it’s possible to fulfill a customer request, they do it. For instance, they typically serve one cola brand. However, realizing that some guests will drink only another brand, they keep some on hand for those occasions. Khan related a story in which a designated driver with a group of guests only drank Diet Mountain Dew, which they didn’t have, so staff ran to a local store to buy some for him rather than disappoint.
In another story, Khan told of a couple who came in to celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary. The woman had her heart set on tilapia prepared the way it had been on her last visit. However, Baker Street’s menu changes occasionally, and when the customer saw that the tilapia was now prepared differently, she expressed her disappointment. After confirming she would be okay to wait twenty minutes, the staff made some of the sauce used in the previous tilapia version and prepared the fish the way the customer remembered it.
As for food quality, if the appetizers our group was served is typical, it’s top notch. The chicken wings are baked first before frying for an extra crispiness beneath the sticky Asian sauce.
The scallops, served on a bed of sweet-and-sour sauce and garnished with walnuts and blue cheese, practically melted in my mouth, and the Cuban rolls, Cuban spiced braised pork, white cheddar and Ossian ham stuffed into a short, hollowed soft bread stick, were deliciously flavorful.
While Baker Street food isn’t all farm-to-table, they do source many of their products locally, including linens, coffee, and meat. Occasionally, they offer specials that promote locally sourced foods, like their patio dinner series, held every other Sunday from Memorial Day through Labor Day, in which the entire dinner is cooked outdoors where diners can watch the meal come together.
How does Baker Street stay consistent with their meal quality and service? All staff members are stakeholders in the company. Everyone shares a percentage of the profits each quarter, and they know that customer satisfaction is the key to turning that profit.
Baker Street, open for lunch at dinner, is located at 4820 N Clinton Street in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Check the web site for exact hours, the menu, and to make reservations.
Disclosure: My visit to Baker’s Street was hosted by the Visit Fort Wayne and Baker’s Street, but any opinions expressed in this post are strictly those of the author.
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