Sunday, 11 August 2013

A man walks into a café...

There was a fairly pretentious little café down the road from me, which went out of business about two years after one of those evil tax evadin' multinationals opened up a few doors away.

The shop stood empty for a year or so, and proudly re-opened as another pretentious little café last Tuesday. I like going into new shops on their first day, firstly out of nosiness and secondly to show a bit of support for the little guy, so I sauntered in after work (about 6.15 pm).

"Is this your first day?" I asked the man behind the counter?

"Yes." he replied.

"Great, can I have a cappuccino to drink in, please?"

"No, we're shut."

So I marched straight out, probably never to be seen there again. On my way home I passed the evil tax evadin' etc. café, which of course stays open until 6.30 pm.


Richard T said...

It's nice to see the fine old British tradition of with pleasure, it's extra thrives still.

Mark Wadsworth said...

RT, that's a bit cryptic.

Bayard said...

Ah, the famed hospitality of the Occident. I used to work in a village in an office that employed 20 -30 people. The only shop in the village opened at 9 am, closed at 1pm for lunch, reopened at 2pm, when everyone's lunch break had finished and closed at 5pm. In between times, they didn't do sandwiches.

Rich Tee said...

Reminds me of the little DIY store next to my house.

I supported it for a while, but then I accidentally bought a spanner which was the wrong size. I was back in the shop within ten minutes asking him nicely if I could just exchange it for the right size.

He pointed to a sign and said that tools cannot be exchanged under any circumstances.

So I've never been back. I take a much longer journey to B&Q now.

Dr Evil said...

Customer service in the UK.....RIP. It's typical of establishments in the retail service business. They really do need lessons in doing business and charm. You just know in the USA they would stay open later and nothing would be too much trouble.

James Higham said...

Did the idiot really say that?

Mark Wadsworth said...

B, that's classic stuff.

RT, exactly, one such stupid incident and he's lost a customer for life.

DrE, look on the bright side, it's worse in Spain.

JH, yes. The correct answer would have been "Well, we're supposed to be closed by now, that's all the bloody council would give us a licence for, but you look like you need a coffee, so I'll turn the machine back on and make you a cup, because it's our first day" and he would have won a customer for life.

The Stigler said...

Really, do you have council-specified opening times like that round your way?

Thing with cafes... they're one of those "dream" businesses, where lots of people start them who have no experience in the industry (women's clothes shops, restaurants and B&Bs are the same, and pubs used to be). Which is why so many fail so quickly.

We've had a cafe open near us and it's been opened by a couple of ex-council workers (presumably with redundancy) and it's about the worst rated place on TripAdvisor in our area.

The funny part is that it's not like it's hard to get at least some experience of cafe work by turning up and getting a waitressing job for a month. Even in that position, you'll learn a lot about what the manager does, what the kitchen does, how margins are worked out, how you deal with bad customers and staff etc.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TS, I think it's the same everywhere.

They open regularly in my suburb, each with a fancy rebranding and USP and lovely new decor. And then they shut down again. The shop fitters must earn themselves silly.

That said, everybody ought to have worked as a waiter/waitress for a while, you learn a lot of useful stuff, like dealing with awkward customers and "juggling plates" (in a metaphorical sense).

And you learn that running a cafe is a pretty hard slog :-)

Bayard said...

I have a brother in the wine trade and he does a lot of business with pubs and restaurants (what he refers to as the "hostility trade"). People buying pubs and not having a clue is fairly common. It's amazing how quickly a bad landlord can turn a packed pub into an empty one.

The Stigler said...


One of the most entertaining parts of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential is about vanity restaurants.

Mark Wadsworth said...

B/TS, the pub trade is a graveyard for people's redundancy pay, golden goodbyes and retirement lump sums.

We had a maths teacher (a rare complete shit) at our school who retired and started a pub. He was back teaching within three years (the twat) so that taught me an important lesson.