There is a famous little diner in our home town called Hank’s Place…a staple of our community, like a Norman Rockwell painting. Founded in 1950, it was often frequented back in the day by Andy Wyeth and the cadre of artists in the Brandywine Valley art scene in Chester County, PA.

Their website captures the vibe. The philosophy of Hank’s Place is “breaking bread” with friends and family. It is a place “Where Hungry People Eat and Friendly People Meet.”

It’s changed hands a few times over the years, and after a few bumpy years, the current owners had found their stride, until disaster struck.

A massive storm last year dumped 8 inches of rain in about 15 minutes, and the Brandywine River (of the “Brandywine Valley”), which flows about 30 yards from Hank’s front door, flooded. This resulted in 7 or 8 feet of water rushing into the restaurant. They have been closed ever since.

But one town over, a huge fan of Hank’s found a perfect temporary spot to reopen while they get the landmark back up and running. And so Hank’s 2.0, or as I call it “Pop Up Hank’s” opened.

Recently, I was there for the first time for a breakfast date with my son, Reece. As we left after a delicious breakfast and a great father-son talk, I realized that part of the fantastic experience we had was because of Hank’s. So how did a diner reboot deliver this experience?

It was a lot of the old classics from their original menu. Perfectly executed diner food with an upscale flare. Great decor, comfortable and airy seating in their new spot.

A slew of very simple things done very, very well…coffee refills at the exact right moment. Over-medium eggs cooked to perfection. The delivery of a to-go order that showed up hot and ready, just as we were finishing. An amazingly pleasant server that appeared to check in on us at the exact right times.

While it wasn’t The French Laundry or Nobu, it was perfection… and we didn’t even realize it. Hank’s Place—the essence, the idea—reappearing in a temporary pop up new home, allowed Reece and I to have our critical dad/kid catch up without a distraction. No complaints about cold coffee or runny eggs or a dirty table. Just a simple, elegant idea that was perfectly executed and became the backdrop to a perfect morning. Simple can really be powerful when done well!

A plate of eggs and bacon prompted me to reflect on the question: What am I and/or could I be doing in my business to create an amazing experience for my clients and customers?

Thanks Hank’s for the reminder – can’t wait to return to the original spot


Founder of the align5 Companies,  CEO of Scaling Up Coaches, and Serial Entrepreneur

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