Opportunity in Crisis

I recently went on a weekend trip with my family to Island Park, Idaho, which is located just about a half hour outside of the west entrance to Yellowstone. We were there to celebrate the opening of a new hotel called Mack’s Inn.  The old Mack’s Inn was a long-standing iconic memory for many families that frequented the property in their younger years.  But with time the aging attraction had lost much of its appeal and needed to be recreated.


During our stay we ate dinner at the neighboring restaurant, Café Sabor, where we had the distinct pleasure of eating with the restaurant’s owner, Justin Hamilton.  He and I engaged in some interesting discussion around how business has changed in a COVID-19 world, in particular how quickly Justin adapted to this new reality.


The simple lesson learned was that pre-COVID habits of doing business were no longer viable, and there was no time to waste in finding new habits to ensure sustained profitability.  Thus, Café Sabor changed in short order from a dine-in experience to a take-out convenience.  Although patrons could not enjoy the fantastic restaurant atmosphere, many still wanted the comfort and pleasure of their great food while minimizing the risk of exposure.  So, for the next few months, Café Sabor converted to a 100% take-out business model.


Then as businesses slowly opened back up, Café Sabor reintroduced a limited dine-in experience.  Justin’s new challenge became explaining to those dining-in why there was a longer wait for their order when much of the dining room was empty.  Ironically, now more than half of the food being cooked was exiting the back door for take-out.


Our conversation made me think about how my old business habits were changing and how new business habits were forming to cross the bridge into a post-COVID world.  The good news is that, although sometimes difficult to see, crisis can bring new opportunity.  In the book business, for example, it is very interesting to learn that the growth of book printing and binding is trending upward.  No doubt that a major contributor is because we are all spending more time at home and need a break from our remote office and electronic entertainment. Enter “old reliable,” the printed book.  Not to mention that changes in upper tier book manufacturing have resulted in more opportunity trickling down to the mid-tier producers.  Those in the mid-tier segment willing to quickly adapt like Café Sabor did can capitalize on their unique position to grow their business and customer base.


Albert Einstein said that “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity.” Justin Hamilton taught me that same lesson.  Just as Mack’s Inn has been recreated and Café Sabor found opportunity in crisis, so should we.  Consider how any crisis offers new strategies to recreate or re-charge your business.  You won’t regret it.


…and now back to my trip!

Enjoy these two vacation shots: The new Mack’s Inn, as well as a 600-pound nine year old grizzly bear in Yellowstone that had killed a bull elk the day prior.

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