Thumbnail image for 2014-18-june-Joe's-HomemadeIf you want to learn about customer experience, forget the next overhyped, overcrowded, tech-focused conference. Just eat at Joe's in Savannah, Ga.

Joe's Homemade Café, Catering and Bakery is the best of 750 restaurants in Savannah, at least according to TripAdvisor, a travel site that offers "trusted advice from real travelers." The 510-square foot gem of a restaurant is known for its sandwiches, salads, desserts and exceptionally warm and friendly service.

And while the food is delicious, it begs a customer to ask a question: "How did this tiny space with eight employees in a city of landmarked, exotic restaurants win the hearts of more travelers than any other?"

Don Holland, shown left, who co-owns the business with Ted Paskevich, shown right, doesn't have to think long when asked. "We believe that a strong commitment and delivery of quality food and exceptional service makes us appreciated by our customers," he said.

Oh, and one other thing. "We're big believers in social media."

Serendipitous Beginnings 

So how did a former university administrator and a one-time furniture refinisher find customer success in the kitchen? Joe's Homemade was the result of a happy accident. "Friends of ours needed a caterer to pitch in for an event they were having the following day for 100 people. Knowing Ted was great in the kitchen, I volunteered him. The event was a success and we were asked to cater again on a regular basis," Holland explained.

To comply with city health codes, they leased a commercial kitchen in the heart of Savannah's medical district. Rather than just cater, they decided to add a few tables and chairs — and in January 2012, Joe's was born. 

Holland is the director of marketing and community relations. Paskevich is the head chef.

"Both Ted and I enjoy people and we thought this would be fun. We both had just retired and decided this would be a great 'hobby' of about three or four hours a day. We were pleasantly surprised when we quickly became popular and had to hire additional staff to keep up with demand," Holland explained.

So what's the not-so-surprising secret of success? "Superior food and superior service," Holland said — with a big dash of social media.