Okay I know this is going to make me unpopular, but you know what? I really do love my Starbucks. I got a FREE VENTI SOY LATTE at this morning because the cup the barista had grabbed had (*GASP!*) a SHAMROCK drawn on it in marker. "It's not St. Patrick's Day anymore! I'm so sorry about that!" she said as she comped my drink for the "inconvenience." Holy bejeebus! What an awesome way to start my morning! Starbucks gets a bad rap because, well, it's true it is as ubiquitous as McDonald's, but I'll happily stick up for them. If they screw up my order, they forget me, or they take a longer-than-average time to get it to me, I get a voucher for a free drink. This has happened a total of 3 times in the last 5 years, and I go there at least once a week.
In contrast, I've been to The Grind and Ventrella about 5 times combined and The Grind had me waiting for 30 minutes once for a mocha (I had to ask for it - they'd forgotten me though I was one of 5 people reading in the place), while the one and only mocha I'd ever ordered at Ventrella sucked so badly I was totally put off the place. For good. Beans and Bagels always has me waiting forEVer, and they can rarely even remember what I ordered, or that I ordered anything, or they hope that if they ignore me I'll just go away and they won't have to be bothered with making my drink and/or sammich so I'm stuck there EVEN LONGER. This was really embarrassing the first two times I went there, because I was the only person in the place. Now I make sure to stick a book in my bag before I head out the door so I'll at least have something to read if they decide to look through me in anticipation of the yoga class across the street's ending soon.
This past Sunday we had to ask for Shannon's plain bagel three times. I understand that things get busy, I do. I've worked in pharmacies that filled an average of 7,092 prescriptions an hour, and you know what happened if we forgot someone's prescription or we gave them the wrong order? Do you? THEY DIED! So don't TELL me about pressure, bucko, and drop the attitude! I do want independent places to succeed (especially CafeNeo!!!), but some of them make me wonder how on earth they do....It's like the customer is an afterthought, or worse: a nuisance. The resumes at some of these places must ask you to rate your level of attitude from 1-11 and anything under a 15 is immediately thrown in the trash. If Beans and Bagel didn't have the best turkey reuben in Chicago, I'd never go there.
But they do.
So I go.
Once when I ordered one the guy just stared at me as though waiting for the punchline, and then actually asked me "Seriously? They're really a pain to make."
If that's true, take it off the menu and save me any future trips, jackwad. Until then, make me my damned sammich and let me get out of here so I can snarf it down in four bites out of sight of the fit and fabulous Bloom yogis who are drifting across the street on their shiny blue clouds of nirvana. They find enlightenment striking poses on a thin squishy mat, I find my perfect harmony in turkey, saurkraut and thousand island dressing on lightly toasted marbled rye.
So, yeah. I know why Starbucks succeeds. And I know why CafeNeo succeeds. I don't know why Beans and Bagels...? OH! They're located 40 feet from the Rockwell stop. And again, as long as they keep serving those turkey reubens, they'll get about 40 bucks a year outta me.