In the 1980s I waited tables.Thousands of them. From time to time, things would go wrong. A couple’s important night on the town would be marred by a botched order, a spilled glass of red wine. While I never invited such moments, I always viewed them as opportunities to forge deeper connections with customers—my chance to do the right thing by doing my best to make things right.
I learned a few powerful lessons:
1. Acknowledge the problem
2. Take responsibility for the solution
3. Apologize sincerely
4. Address the issue
5. Offer something extra special—on the house
By staying calm, positive, solution-oriented and generous, I found that upset diners often became loyal regulars, even personal friends. A moment of dissatisfaction, respectfully and graciously handled, bonded us more deeply than had no issue occurred. We all hate it when things go wrong, yet hearts are won when someone truly works hard to make things right again.
What’s all this have to do with The Bay Lights?
Well, last May things went awry with the world’s largest LED light sculpture. The wet weather, high winds and salty air were taking their toll on the LEDs. The source of the problem was hard to identify and even harder to solve.
Then something beautiful happened—the kind of thing that wins your heart. The technical team that designed and installed THE BAY LIGHTS rallied. They fully owned the problem and the solution and came up with an interim plan to save the summer, replacing affected strands.
Artist Leo Villareal temporarily reprogrammed THE BAY LIGHTS to a gentler expression that allowed the sculpture to maintain its beauty while giving the team time to work on areas that were impacted. When the Bay Bridge closed over Labor Day Weekend, crews took full advantage of four daytime shifts to get ahead of the repairs.
Today, The Bay Lights is close to full strength—and it’s breathtaking
Leo came back after Labor Day to reimagine the sculpture and take full advantage of its almost full-strength lights. However, we’re not out of the woods yet and the team that saved our summer is fully committed to enacting a long-term solution. I couldn’t be more proud of their response or more impressed by their professionalism and integrity.
And now … “something extra special”
We’ve worked hard on something we hope you’ll love. Starting November 1st, THE BAY LIGHTS will stay on continually from dusk ‘til dawn. We were able to modify the 2:00 a.m. shut-off clause in our permit, so now whenever it’s dark, THE BAY LIGHTS will shine—including a new, special early morning sequence created by Leo.
Save the date!
We invite you to join us for coffee and pastries at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, November 2nd at the Ferry Building amidst its pre-dawn farmer’s market hustle and bustle—to allow us to say Thank You for your patience and support, and to celebrate a new day for THE BAY LIGHTS—it’s first “on ‘til dawn” moment!