Saturday, January 26, 2008
Save Toscanini's, an amazing statement of customer loyalty
There's an amazing coffee and ice cream shop in Cambridge's Central Square called Toscanini's. The New York Times named Toscanini's ice cream the "best in the world" and my personal favorite, the vanilla latte, is to die for. It's loaded with specs of real vanilla delivered in a tantalizingly smooth, creamy, espresso packed package. But the most amazing thing about Toscanini's is its customers.
Two weeks ago the shop was seized by the state of Massachusetts for the owner's failure to pay over $150,000 in back taxes. Upon the news, some staff members decided to put up the Save Tosci Website, a website with a mission of raising $25,000, the amount the State was requiring as a down payment in order for Toscanini's to open its doors again.
Thinking about Brand Autopsy's "Would you miss" posts I couldn't help but wonder if Toscanini's customers would miss it enough to both forgive its owner for an oversight of this caliber and help the owner come up with the down payment to begin to pay off his back taxes. Surprisingly, the answer was a resounding yes. In as little as 6 days Toscanini's raked in over $31,000 in donations. My first thought was - this is crazy. There are so many deserving (and struggling) organizations out there that desperately need funding and here is a guy who failed to pay his taxes, more so failed to pay the meals tax he was collecting from his customers and those same customers just bailed him out.
Then I started to realize - Toscanini's and its owner are a valued presence in Cambridge. The owner has spent years developing a great rapport with the city, its schools and students, residents and businesses. While the service can be slow, you know the quality of the ice cream and coffee will be worth the wait. The staff is friendly if not a bit eccentric. And the owner has a way of making each customer feel as if they're the only one that counts. It's truly a neighborhood institution, but one that knows how to open its arms to any stranger walking through the door. That is what the people who donated understood and that is truly what saved Toscanini's.
photo credit: http://flickr.com/photos/mrjoro/39446301/