Business inspiration on the road

Jill and DinkoIt’s widely acknowledged that travel widens your perspective. The more you open yourself to the world, the more of a chance that you may meet somebody who will change how you think about things for the rest of your life.

A couple of years ago, my husband and I visited the island of Hvar, part of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast. The lush, green island is popular with the swanky jet set (actually, more like the yacht set), but we were there just before high season began, so we could beat the crowds.

One afternoon, while wandering the steep stairways within the walled city, we happened upon an empty konoba (family-run dining establishment) among twisting grape vines. Traditional Dalmatian folk music filtered out from an interior room. We needed a break from our adventures, so we slipped inside and found a seat on a bench set against a stone wall in the grotto-like front room.

We were the only customers, so had time to talk with our host, Dinko. We learned that the building had been in his family for generations, and for a time, part of it was used as a wine cellar by his grandfather. Because his grandfather was an excellent and dedicated wine maker, Dinko eventually developed the home as a restaurant in his honor.

Between his stories, Dinko brought us items from his menu—all cold Dalmatian specialties. We tasted cheeses, ham, bacon, stuffed bread, anchovies, octopus, olives, figs and homemade wine. He explained that all the food had been produced by small, local businesses. All of it was delicious, but I enjoyed hearing Dinko talk about his business and how his main interest was to help save the traditions and customs of the area.

After a brief, terse instruction to his daughter about her evening curfew, he told us with a sigh that he wished his children would eventually take over the restaurant, but he ultimately wanted them to be happy. If they didn’t care about the traditions as he did, he’d be sad, but ultimately OK with their decisions.

There are Dinkos in many places in the world, very likely more than I imagine. But it was our time with him (we returned night after night to Konoba Menego, for conversation as well as food) that changed my mind about being a business owner in the tourism industry. I’d been convinced that I’d have to be more of a salesperson, instead of just myself, in order to cater to visitors. But I realized that Dinko, with his genuine interest in his culture and the willingness to share it, was able to be the perfect salesperson while being himself.

Posted by | Comments (1)  | November 27, 2009
Category: General

One Response to “Business inspiration on the road”

  1. Nicolai Says:

    So true.