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The Secret to Unforgettable Hospitality: Lessons from Eleven Madison Park

At Horeca Stop, we understand that setting up a successful Horeca (Hotel/Restaurant/Café) business from scratch involves more than just great food and a beautiful ambiance. It’s about creating memorable experiences for your guests. This principle is at the heart of our turnkey consultancy services, designed to help you achieve excellence in every aspect of your Horeca business. Today, we’re drawing inspiration from a captivating story by Will Guidara, former owner of Eleven Madison Park, which was once named the number-one restaurant in the world.

The Secret to Unforgettable Hospitality: Lessons from Eleven Madison Park

Transforming Ordinary into Extraordinary

Will Guidara’s journey with Eleven Madison Park is a testament to the transformative power of exceptional hospitality. When he took over the restaurant in 2006, it was an unremarkable brasserie. However, by 2020, it had risen to the pinnacle of the culinary world. This transformation wasn’t just due to the innovative and delicious food, the impeccable service, or the stunning dining room. Instead, it was a simple hotdog that encapsulated the restaurant’s winning strategy: "unreasonable hospitality."

The Hotdog That Changed Everything

One busy lunch service in 2010, Guidara overheard a table of guests expressing regret that they hadn’t tried a New York City hotdog during their visit. In a moment of inspiration, he ran out to a nearby hotdog cart, bought a hotdog, and brought it back to the restaurant. Despite initial skepticism from the chef, they served the hotdog in the style of a fine dining dish. The guests were overjoyed, declaring it the highlight of their trip.

This experience was a revelation for Guidara. It highlighted the importance of making guests feel seen and valued. The hotdog wasn’t just food; it was a personal gesture that created a memorable experience for guests. This concept of personalized, thoughtful service became the cornerstone of Eleven Madison Park’s hospitality approach.

Core Principles of Unreasonable Hospitality

Guidara’s story underscores three key principles that can elevate any Horeca business:

  1. Being Present: True hospitality begins with attentiveness. By being fully present, you can pick up on the little details that matter most to your guests. It’s about listening to both what they say and what they don’t say. For instance, if Guidara hadn’t been attentive, he would have missed the offhand comment about the hotdog.

  2. Taking Service Seriously, Not Yourself: While it’s crucial to maintain high standards, it’s equally important not to let rigid rules stifle creativity. Guidara’s decision to serve a hotdog in a fine dining restaurant broke conventional norms, yet it resulted in an unforgettable experience.

  3. Treating Each Guest as Unique: Hospitality is about making each person feel special. This means tailoring experiences to individual preferences rather than adopting a one-size-fits-all approach. Personalized gestures, no matter how small, can have a significant impact.

Empowering Your Team

At Eleven Madison Park, embracing unreasonable hospitality not only delighted guests but also empowered the staff. Guidara created a role called the "Dream Weaver," whose sole responsibility was to help staff bring their creative ideas to life. This fostered a culture of innovation and joy, as employees felt more invested in creating memorable experiences for guests.

Implementing Unreasonable Hospitality in Your Horeca Business

At Horeca Stop, we believe that the principles of unreasonable hospitality can be applied to any Horeca business, regardless of its size or budget. Here’s how we can help you integrate these principles into your business:

  1. Customized Solutions: Our turnkey consultancy services are designed to meet the unique needs of each client. We work closely with you to understand your vision and translate it into a seamless guest experience. Whether you’re setting up a cozy café or a luxurious hotel, we tailor our services to fit your specific requirements.

  2. Attention to Detail: We help you cultivate a culture of attentiveness within your team. Through training and workshops, your staff will learn to pick up on the subtle cues that can transform a good service into an exceptional one.

  3. Creative Freedom: Empowering your team to think creatively can lead to extraordinary results. We assist in developing frameworks that encourage staff to come up with and execute unique ideas that enhance guest satisfaction.

  4. Personalized Guest Experiences: We guide you in creating personalized touches that make each guest feel valued. From understanding guest preferences to implementing small but meaningful gestures, we help you create a lasting impression.

Why Choose Horeca Stop?

With Horeca Stop, you’re not just getting a consultancy service; you’re gaining a partner dedicated to your success. Our comprehensive turnkey solutions cover every aspect of setting up and running a Horeca business, from concept development to staff training and operational efficiency. We bring industry expertise, innovative strategies, and a passion for excellence to help you achieve your business goals.

Our approach is holistic. We understand that exceptional hospitality is a combination of great food, impeccable service, and a welcoming environment. But most importantly, it’s about creating connections and memories. We help you craft experiences that your guests will cherish and talk about long after they’ve left your establishment.


The story of Eleven Madison Park and its journey to becoming the world’s best restaurant is a powerful reminder that hospitality is more than just good service. It’s about making people feel seen, valued, and special. At Horeca Stop, we are committed to helping you achieve this level of hospitality excellence. By integrating the principles of unreasonable hospitality into your Horeca business, you can create unforgettable experiences that will set you apart from the competition.

Visit Horeca Stop to learn more about our turnkey setup consultancy services and how we can help you create a Horeca business that not only meets but exceeds your guests’ expectations. Let’s make your hospitality dreams a reality, one extraordinary experience at a time.



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