The Family Restaurant That Proves Even Waiting on Hold Can Be Fun

Open since 1979, Victoria, B.C.’s Pagliacci’s is a family restaurant that has stood the test of time—due in large part to the institution’s dedication to hospitality and true customer service. “They’re not our customers, they’re our guests,” says co-owner Solomon Siegel. “Ultimately what we’re selling is the feeling of being cared about which is a beautiful thing, and a beautiful way to make a living.”

Pagliacci’s is an Italian restaurant started by Solomon’s father Howie and uncle David—and the family connection doesn’t stop there. Some staffers have been working in the restaurant for 40 years, some since the ‘80s. That kind of long-term knowledge translates to their seamless service, and they needed the right technology to keep up with their people.

The restaurant uses Shaw Business’ SmartWiFi 750 to run everything from their servers’ iPads, to their wireless credit card terminals, their light dimmers, and their music system. The key for Solomon is that the tech should go unnoticed. “I think one of the things I brought to Pagliacci’s to update it from dad’s era is utilizing technology without getting in the way of the old school feel of the place,” he says. “The guest experience should be seamless, so if the music isn't on, the ambiance isn’t right, if people can’t put in orders efficiently, that all interferes with the hospitality.”

The restaurant’s hospitality values extend even over the phone. The family long-resisted getting an answering machine because they hated to make customers wait for a call-back, but when they installed Shaw Business’ SmartVoice with Auto Attendant, they found they could answer guests’ questions in a way that still felt authentic to them.

“Most questions are similar: do we take reservations, what are the hours. Now none of our guests get a busy signal and they can get the information right away,” says Solomon. “And if they do have to wait, I believe we have the most entertaining phone tree in the world.”

Solomon and his father, an actor and comedian, recorded a short play that guests on hold can listen to, giving them a taste of what’s to come when they dine. Any hold music you might encounter is recorded by a local musician, as Pagliacci’s features live music nightly. “The last thing we wanted was some boring, professional message,” he says. “It’s been a big boon to have a customizable phone system that allows us to extend our humour and joy.”

With Shaw Business we have really secure WiFi, and a separate guest network apart from our internal network, which was really important for me.

Solomon Siegel, Owner of Pagliacci’s

Being able to access SmartVoice’s messaging system from personal mobile phones or emails is another way Pagliacci’s can keep guests top of mind. “When my GM goes on vacation, he can forward his business line to me, or we can call guests from home using our business number,” says Solomon. “It’s really nice to have that ability.”

Another reason Pagliacci's has stuck with Shaw Business for the long haul is because security is a major concern. “I’ve had a whole POS attacked by ransomware before,” says Solomon. “With Shaw Business we have really secure WiFi, and a separate guest network apart from our internal network, which was really important for me.”

And that’s what great technology should do for a business—enable an environment that lets you do what you do best with no roadblocks along the way. “It doesn’t have to be perfect—just make sure each one of your guests leaves your place feeling like they were cared about,” says Solomon.

“Those experiences can be life changing for people.”

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