The waiter handed us a breakfast menu with the announcement: “The buffet is a much better value than a la carte.” But when he saw my nonplused reception he added, “…but none of our local flavors are on the buffet.”

So, what did his announcement really mean? He meant that great food could be found on their standard value-added buffet—eggs (any style), bacon, sausage, pancakes, toast, pastries, fruit, yogurt, OJ, and cereal—everything you would want for a completely forgettable breakfast. And, the local flavors? This restaurant was on South Miami Beach so it included Eggs Benedict Cubano, Caribbean French Toast, Grilled Churrasco with hearth-fried eggs, and celery juice with ginger. Not exactly your everyday items, but clearly value-unique.

Innovative service is unexpected, off the beaten path service. It delights because it is distinctive, not just excellent. It creates a story because it touches customers in ways “eggs and bacon” service can never do. “Going with the local flavors” takes a willingness to be bold and daring. But the return on investment in terms of customer loyalty can be well worth the road less taken. Serve on the wild side and watch your customer return for a repeat trip.