Before he was an international bestseller, Sydney Sheldon was a struggling writer in New York.
During those days of struggle, he was the writer on a broadway play. A ballerina named Milada Mladova was the lead actress of the play.
Sydney asked Milada out one day. He wanted to impress her, so he took her to Sardi’s, which was a favorite of show people.
They chatted and enjoyed dinner. After dinner, Sydney got a check for $35.
The problem was that he did not have the money.
He stared at the check for a while, which prompted Milada to ask if everything was okay.
Sydney promptly assured her, got up and said he’d be right back.
He walked over to the door and noticed that the owner Vincent Sardi was standing there. He approached Mr. Sardi and the following encounter took place:
“It’s about my check.”
“Is there something wrong with it?”
“No. It’s fine. I – I just don’t have – I don’t have – the money. Mr. Sardi, I wrote the play that’s opening at the Majestic Theatre, across the street. But it hasn’t opened yet. And at the moment, I – I don’t have enough to – I wonder if you could trust me until the play opens.”
He nodded, “Of course. It’s no problem. And I want you to know you are welcome to come here at any time.”
“Thank you so much!”
“Not at all.”
He shook Sydney’s hand. There was a fifty dollar bill in it.
Sardi’s which opened in 1927 is still in business to this day.
Vincent Sardi was astute – he was building customer loyalty even before it was a thing.
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