Guu Restaurant… a perfect example of successful word-of-mouth advertising

21Dec09

My friend Sepi recently took me and my fiance Ben to a japanese bar called Guu on the corner of Robson and Bidwell.  It’s a place that you could easily miss at a blink of an eye, and so if it weren’t for Sepi, I would never have found this place.

I walk in the door, expecting to enter a quiet, spaceous and zen-like restaurant just like most high-end sushi places are in downtown Vancouver and hence was very surprised to walk into a small crowded room full of loud diners, and even louder staff. It took me a good minute to realize what was going on… Apparently, the staff would scream hello, goodbye and thank you in japanese to patrons walking in and out of the place. And later on, I discovered that they scream orders in unison as well. I felt like I was in a street market back in Asia. Hmmmm, feels like home.

Sepi was already seated by the bar across the open kitchen, and so we took the seats beside her. I take one quick look at the menu and realize that I wasn’t familiar with a single thing on it. Neither did Ben.  Like a kung fu master eager to teach her eager students, Sepi calls on our server and starts picking tapas for the three of us to share – salmon carpaccio, beef carpaccio,  calamari, these heavenly squid balls, grilled sea-salted pork cheeks, prawns, a hotpot dish, and all these other extremely tasty things. I do not remember all their names, or even how to pronounce them, but they were all delicious. I’ve never enjoyed so much garlic in my entire life.

The atmosphere made the food taste even more authentic. The screaming, the loud music, the lack of elbow room, the friendly staff (who are mostly Japanese speakers) and the happy patrons made me feel like I was actually in Japan, not that I have been there, but now I definitely want to make a trip. I can’t wait to be in Nagoya or Tokyo, drinking Sapporos and screaming “Cheers” in Japanese. Is it kampai?

The place is packed, and there was a pile of people standing in the little waiting area, and even overflowing out into the street, waiting in the cold to eat in a small place like this one.

I later checked Guu online and found that the website wasn’t awesome, and there seemed to be no advertising going on about this place. Makes me realize that a restaurant – or any business for that matter – can be really successful, even without a huge marketing budget. If you’re good, you’re good. If your clients love you, they talk about you – and word of mouth is the cheapest and most effective method of advertising there is.

I’m definitely coming back here again and again. I should have to make sure I come in before rush hour. Thank you, Sepi, for introducing me to one of Vancouver’s many secrets.

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One Response to “Guu Restaurant… a perfect example of successful word-of-mouth advertising”

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