This is a story about the best marketing tool I have ever witnessed in my life. Well, maybe witness is not such a good word. Fallen victim to could perhaps paint a better picture. Because really what I’m talking about is a trap that has been laid in a completely nondescript, apparently unassuming strip mall in San Jose. Nearly invisible in a cluster of small businesses, on a giant but undistinguished busy street, surrounded by seemingly identical concrete clusters, Tony and Alba’s sits, quietly emitting the most decadent, hunger inducing, mouth watering smell I have encountered anywhere outside of my friend Sean’s kitchen. Sean is the best cook I know, and so now that you’re in on my reference you can understand with me that Tony and Alba’s smells really very good indeed. Except that Sean’s kitchen only smells that way when he’s cooking and I only get to smell it when I’ve been invited for dinner. With Tony and Alba’s, it’s constant.
My family first encountered this establishment when I was in middle school, so a few more than a few years ago. We were coming to rent some videos from the place next door. We had just eaten dinner and were wanting to end the night with a movie, when, suddenly, we, collectively, got blind-sided by this attack odor. Dizzy and powerless, we stumbled toward its source. We emerged after some unknown interval, greasy bliss all over our faces, clearly recognizing danger. We knew we would have to be careful in the future. It was possible to continue to rent from this, our favorite, movie rental place, but we would have to maintain our guard when we approached it. Sometimes we would slip and get sucked back in. Fine, we would say, every now and then is fine, so long as our core resolve remains strong.
This is Tony and Alba’s, neighborhood terrorist. They will never have to worry about business and they certainly don’t need my advertising help, but if you’re just visiting, the threat against you is minimal so you may just want to check them out.