Thursday, February 18, 2010
A few years ago we visited a restaurant in Los Angeles where not much has changed since it opened in April 1947. Of course the orchards and farmland surrounding the white, one story, house-like building have been replaced by a mall, huge office complexes and buzzing LA streets, but that’s about it. The guys wearing little white paper server hats taking orders have worked there at least 40 years. Even if you are too young to be nostalgic, you just might feel like you once owned a ’57 Chevy when you’re at The Apple Pan.
Just inside the double screen doors is a U shaped bar lined with red swivel stools. The waiting area is a lean on the wall where you will likely join students as well as high powered entertainment moguls. It’s probably one of the few places in the country seating is run strictly on the honor system and no one dares to sit down out of turn.
Burgers that would tempt the most devout vegetarian, egg salad sandwiches, fries and pies words can’t even describe are the bulk of the uncomplicated menu. We left smelling like the grill whining we would never eat agin. The food was a culinary delight, the company was fascinating, and the restaurant itself was like visiting a living museum.
When I see success I always wonder what’s at the bottom of it. While I was leaning in the waiting area at The Apple Pan I noticed a sign on the wall past the massive hamburger grill that explains theirs. It read, “Doing simple things exceedingly well.” There you have it. The Apple Pan family has done simple things with excellence for 60 years in the same building while countless businesses have started and failed all around them.
I think success lies in the pursuit of excellence. Some days my excellence is less than other days if I’m tired or sick or just having an off day. That’s when that mean voice in my head questions if I can do anything even halfway. But then I have to remember this: if I’m doing the best I can, with what I have, at the time, I’m doing simple things exceedingly well.