Rockfish Restaurant, Chandler, AZ: What made this chain restaurant stand out to me? It was friendly and fun and the food was good, but wait, there's more.
I know I'm at a mall in Phoenix...
But inside it looks like a fly-fishing lodge. Turns out they buy actual fly-fishing gear for the decor. My brother-in-law liked the comfy resting porch when waiting for a table, instead of being "shoved into the bar." I noticed the wording on the menu about special orders, which was very welcoming. (And when I made a special order, I got nothing but smiles and helpful hints, instead of eye-rolling and big sighs.) But what stood out is the Rockfish sense of humor, which flows directly downstream from owner Randy DeWitt. Waitstaff t-shirts have funny sayings on the back like, "Fish Happens." The women's room sign reads "Inboards."
Looking for the bathroom?
My friend liked the family-friendly feel, and the way the bar wasn't the focal point. While Rockfish looks like many seafood places you might find in a mall, they've created an authentic experience that's both fun and memorable.
Customer's memories become part of the story
They've also done a brilliant job of incorporating customers' own memorabilia (fishing photos) into the decor, which creates more authenticity and a solid connection to place, as customers have "our booth."
Tip of the day: Be true to yourself. This business has created a strong authentic voice, based on the owner's own sense of humor, that is carried throughout every aspect of the business. The decor isn't bought as a package from an interior design company, but is personally selected from real fishing supply stores.