Success Stories

Pizzeria Chic Alors

Despite tough times, there are a small, but growing number of successful new sit down pizza restaurants opening around the U.S. and Canada which specialize in ultra premium gourmet pies and premium adult beverages, often in casual, hip surroundings.

Echoing that trend, Hugh Philippin’s upscale Pizzeria Chic Alors has so grown so popular with Quebec City locals that he recently expanded its size to accommodate them. Hugh attributes his success to pairing extremely flavorful food with consistently excellent service.

Any business can claim excellent service, but Hugh frequently measures his team’s service quality via his own pool of “secret shoppers,” which he recruits from among friends and acquaintances. In exchange for later being reimbursed the cost of their meal, his “secret shoppers” agree to be his eyes and ears while dining at the restaurant.


Then, once they are back home, they complete Hugh’s service questionnaire to evaluate the quality of their experience, start to finish. For example, did an employee warmly greet them within 60 seconds of arrival?

Other insightful questions include:

• Did everyone at the table get their entree at the same time?

• Was it easy to get employees’ attention?

• Did you overhear inappropriate discussions between employees?

• Was the dining room immaculately clean?

• Did your server appear to love their job?


To ensure regular feedback, every few weeks Hugh arranges for a different secret shopper to evaluate his place at a time and day of their choosing. His only requirement is that they keep their participation, well, secret.

Some restaurateurs consider “secret shoppers” unnecessary, especially when an owner is generally present. But Hugh’s highly disciplined approach has helped significantly elevate his service quality in several ways:

1) Owners cannot be everywhere. Detailed feedback helps Hugh better understand how well his team is doing in his customers’ eyes.

2) Identifying how you want customers treated helps employees understand what is expected and provides a framework to further improve service over time.

3) Random evaluations improve consistency of service by keeping employees on their toes!


While Hugh’s service approach is highly structured, it is hard to argue with his upscale pizzeria’s steady growth!