Time to DISsert! What makes a successful restaurant? Perhaps the 90% failure rate so often cited by various media is a bit of an urban legend, but the “magic formula” for creating an enduring eatery absolutely remains elusive. After a year at the New York Restaurant School, my husband and I set upon our quest to construct a restaurant that would survive the test of time. We’ve owned four restaurants in the past 25 years, but we’re still compiling our list of intangibles that all great fine dining establishments possess:
- a cohesive identity
- imaginative service that goes well beyond the expected
- a thoughtful menu and specialty cocktails/ wine list
Perhaps it is because we have been celebrating Cinco de Mayo for the past 2 weeks, but I simply can’t get La Hacienda de San Angel off my mind. I paid my first visit to this Epcot establishment in January, and its list of successful intangibles is long. I know you’ve read your share of reviews of La Hacienda’s southern Mexican food and drink; homemade corn tortillas, my amazing grilled tilapia with mango chutney (Pescado a la Talla) and their now famous, ingenious Tequila Flights have been thoroughly critiqued on-line and in the blogosphere. What truly set this restaurant apart for me was my full dining event- my total experience.
|Pescado a la Talla|
I spent my first-ever solo dining adventure at La Hacienda de Angel and had some MAJOR trepidation in doing so. Although I know so many others enjoy it, I am always uncomfortable when I see a solo diner, and even more so in the land of happy, engaged families. As I checked in, I fully expected a rushed, avoid-all-eye-contact, slightly lonely meal. Instead, I had one of the lo mejor dining experiences of my life.
|The famous Margarita Flight may have been an outside factor.|
Disney fans know that every on-property restaurant tells a story, and La Hacienda’s plays beautifully. The Palmas Services LLC corporation that operates all three Mexican restaurants in the World Showcase opened their first establishment in Mexico City in 1963; by converting an established 17th century hacienda into the original Restaurante San Angel Inn, an international success was born. Disney parlayed this concept into the narrative of La Hacienda de Angel, and from the minute you pass through the scrolled wrought-iron gates you feel as though you are entering the grand, warm, lakeside home of a decidedly artistic south-of-the-border family. I was given a most gracious welcome by a member of La Hacienda’s management team, addressed by name, and escorted through the “residence”.
|La Hacienda de San Angel artwork sample|
|IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth|