The Best Service Experience of My Life

 In Be The Leader

On Friday night, my girlfriend (Shannon) and I had the best service experience of our lives at Seattle’s Canlis restaurant.

Call to Action

If you live in Seattle have your next meal at Canlis. If you plan to visit Seattle plan on having a meal at Canlis.

Let me make this as easy as possible for you…

Canlis Resources


  • This is there website.
  • Here is the number to make reservations: 206-283-3313
  • Here’s where Canlis is located and here are the driving directions.
  • Here is the airport abbreviation for Seattle: SEA

Why Believe Me?

I know service. I’ve dined at some of the best restaurants in North America. I’ve never traveled abroad because, growing up, my family took trips to cities to eat at their great restaurants. I am Disney trained in their Guest Service program. I’ve developed and trained customer service programs. I’ve read Creating Customer Evangelists so many times – I’ve become great friends with the authors Jackie and Ben. I helped write Starbucks’ latest customer service strategy.

Now to be clear, I’m not just saying I had the best restaurant experience… But the best service experience of ANY service experience. Better than the Ritz-Carton. Better than the best service at any Disney property. Better than the Starbucks Experience.

Canlis is known as one of the best restaurants in Seattle. They win numerous awards; have a world famous master sommelier (Shayn Bjornholm), heck, Starbucks even created a custom blend of coffee for them to serve (Casi Cielo).

Let me review the incredible night for you… It’s a worthy read.

The Cast:

  • Linda, our waitress
  • John Tull, the manager
  • Shayn Bjornholm, the master sommelier
  • Mark Canlis, the owner

A Summary of the Evening

  • We arrive by taxi at 8 pm for our 8:30 pm reservations. A valet opened the cab doors for each of us… nice courtesy. The website suggests arriving a bit early so you may enjoy the mellow piano music and unwind in the bar area.
  • The restaurant is beautiful – situated atop a hill looking over Seattle’s Lake Union.
  • At 8:30, a hostess invites us to our table – she puts are drinks on a nice tray and leads us to our table. On our way John stops us and says… “You are getting my favorite seat in the house for two. Please enjoy yourselves.” The hostess placed our drinks and introduced us to Linda our waitress. John was right – it was an awesome table overlooking the restaurant and through the huge pane windows to the city and lake below. Gorgeous.
  • Later John stopped by to make sure we indeed liked our table. We did very much.
  • After we selected our delicious sounding entrees, to help us choose the right wine, the wine steward Shayn came to our table. He’s an award-winning, world famous, master sommelier. We explained what we ordered and what we typically like to drink and he made a suggestion of five or six wines from their offering of over 5,000 different wines. (It paired well with the entire meal and was delicious).
  • When our water glasses were less than 1/3 empty they would be refilled by whomever was passing… a busser, another waiter or the manager.
  • Steaming hot rolls were flowing from the kitchen – delivered directly from the oven to our plates.
  • A waitress was making the rounds replacing the votive candles to keep them bright before they would burn out.
  • The appetizers we had were great, the entrees we had were awesome, the desserts we had were out of this world. All the flavors were balanced. The food was fresh. All the food was served at the perfect temperature.
  • The service we received so attentive, it was as if we were the only patrons in the restaurant… even though they were full and busy.
  • To top it all off… not only was the manager great… and our waitress… but the owner Mark Canlis stopped by our table, introduced himself, and made sure our evening was enjoyable. Enthusiastically, we let him know everything was perfect.
  • So we’re sitting there, each with a smile on our face, thanks to the wonderful food and service and live piano music… Together we begin to discuss how much we thought the bill was going to be… $350? $400? Heck, the bottle of wine was $75 by itself… We thought it was going to be mega-expensive… and we knew that going in… we were prepared… but at this point it would be worth every penny.
  • Our total bill only came to $260!! Take a look at the full meal we ordered…

Our Complete Meal

We had… (apologies as my descriptions aren’t going to do the food justice).

  • 2 cocktails (actually 3, I ordered one I didn’t like and they didn’t charge me! I did not expect that).
  • 1 bottle of expertly-selected wine
  • 2 appetizers (cream of cauliflower soup / prawn, avocado, mango salad)
  • 2 entrees (Australian lobster / Dungeness crab cakes)
  • 2 desserts (flourless chocolate cake / peanut butter mousse with caramelized banana)
  • 2 lattes with dessert (actually I ordered two lattes, but Shannon actually wanted coffee instead so the waitress brought her a cup of coffee – and didn’t charge us for the latte!)

Just When We Thought It Couldn’t Get Better

How did this perfect night close? First let me tell you, they don’t make a fuss or embarrass you about taking home leftovers. (Which was nice because we wanted to try several items on the menu, but not over-eat). They package everything nicely to take with you. They even wrapped up the bottle of wine up for us – there was one more glass left in the bottle.

After having unsurpassed attention by the staff, and a most delicious unforgettable meal, Linda (the waitress) asked if we were ready for her to call us a cab. Now wait a minute?! How did she know we needed a cab? We didn’t tell anybody! That means that the valet let the manager know that we arrived in cab… and then the manager let Linda know we’d need a cab?! How seamless. How small a task but how immense the impact!

Typically a busser or valet are extra staff that work hard but just do the mechanical stuff… park a car… clear dirty dishes. But not at Canlis. The manager’s job was no more important than the person who was filling waters or replacing candles. The valet added as much to our night as the chef. No role was unimportant. They all worked seamless – and it showed.

They let us know when our cab arrived… and then our food was whisked away… While we put on our coats, they had put our leftovers in the cab for us! The valets opened our cab doors for us and wished us a good evening.

Perfect from start to finish.

The only problem is that we saved going to Canlis for a super special occasion. Living in Seattle for 7 years and it was my first time there! I was always waiting for a “big enough” event. What a mistake!

Do yourself a favor. You’ll thank me. For the price and the level of service, you don’t need a special event.

Shannon and I will be regulars at Canlis. We will go back whenever we want an awesome meal and to be pampered by the most attentive staff we’ve ever met.

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