Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm still cringing.

There is a short article in today's paper about Kevin Voysey's proposal to open a new restaurant in downtown Two Rivers. In brief, his proposal was made to the Two Rivers' Business and Industrial Development Committee and basically outlined that he and another fellow want to open a quality eatery in an existing large and attractive space on Washington Street.

Kevin owns the building but the city owns the equipment from two previous restaurant ventures that didn't pan out (with different operators...Kevin was not involved in those operations but wants to be directly involved with this one). There are more details to the story but the gist of it is that Kevin wants to open the place up, which has been closed since the last guy closed shop, and he wants to purchase the equipment from the city, on an installment plan, in order to do so.

The city is requiring him to present a couple things (a loan application and a business plan) before they decide whether or not to give him the go-ahead. Requiring a business plan is a very good idea. A business plan is essential, for Kevin as much as anyone else, so that he can clearly see where he wants to go with the project and how he may best be able to get there. Putting together a thorough business plan is sound wisdom.

But this Daft post isn't really about Kevin and his partner's proposed restaurant plan. It is partly about his willingness to step forward and basically subject himself to more pain and harassment from the uninformed loudmouths on the HTR's online newspaper site. The story is only a couple hours old and the magpies are already twiddling their claws over their keyboards in a flurry of conceited responses. There are comments posted about how the restaurant concept is a bad one, the BIDC would be "throwing good money after bad," it won't work in TR, yada yada... Unfortunately, the nattering of those neighbobs of negativity is inevitable. Personally, I say more power to Kevin. Hats off and a big raise of the beer stein to you, my friend.

But as soon as I read the second paragraph I began to cringe, and the cringing continued as I read, realizing that Kevin was setting himself up for a bit of pummeling. But I'm sure he knew that would be coming as soon as he made the decision to present the idea. Whether he ends up going forward with it or not he gets a samurai bow from me for having the guts to step up to the plate. The online rabble who only know how to criticize and knock someone down deserve nothing but disdain, and the Daft award for this week.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Crabby biker dude wants his pizza NOW!

After three years I think we've had just two or three grouches in the café who made a show of complaining about something (not counting the one or two regular local yocals who just seem to live to complain about life in general). Today there was some Bike Across Wisconsin thing going on and a lot of cyclists were coming through town. We had a group of nine come in, which was really two groups, one of three guys and one of six women, though they all came in at the same time. They ordered pizzas and paninis. The women sat in the back and the guys sat up front.

Now many of you know that we make artisan pizzas and other menu items that are not your average run-of-the-mill food items. These are things that we take some pride in and that are hopefully a cut above what you might find elsewhere. We also are a small operation, with a
small oven and small kitchen. Presently we can only bake four of these small pizzas at a time, but we work as efficiently as we can to get things done as quickly as possible. Most people understand that they're not going to get their food in 10 minutes (usually it takes around 20 minutes, but if we're real busy it might take 30 minutes or so...four at a time, remember).

Anyway, after about 20 minutes one of the guys up front started complaining a bit about the wait. He felt he'd been waiting "30 minutes already" and was upset that things were taking longer than he wanted. I explained to him just what I indicated above, that we're not Dominos Pizza, this isn't "fast food," but that their pizza would be done shortly and would be well worth the wait. He just sat there shaking his head and grumbling to his two buddies, who seemed a bit embarrassed by his behavior.Five minutes later he complained again, saying that they had been "waiting for 45 minutes" (it was actually around 25-30 minutes...I asked the gals in back what time they had all come in and they gave me the time, so I knew how long it really was). Again, I apologized to the guy and asked him "What can I do to make you happy?" He said "How about a refund! This is ridiculous!" Now I was a bit ticked. Having to wait 20 to 30 minutes for any pizza is no big deal, let alone an artisan pizza where everything is sliced and prepared fresh as it's being made, and this guy could see that Kim was working her ass off in the kitchen. Not cool.

A couple minutes more and I delivered his pizza to his table, to more of his eye rolling and head shaking and grumbling. After a few minutes I walked over and said "How is it? Good, isn't it, and worth the wait." The other two guys said yes and that they liked it. Grumpypants cocked his head and replied dismissively, "It's ok." Now I went from being irritated with him to being amused. He was clearly more interested in acting like a jerk and making himself feel important than having a legitimate complaint. I replied, "Oh come on now, that's delicious and you know it. You
need to relax and enjoy this beautiful day." He replied "This will give us something to talk about today." I said, "You're out riding your bike along the lake, and the weather is beautiful. Stop being such a sourpuss and enjoy yourself." He said "We will, as soon as we put this behind us." I laughed and thought "I doubt you enjoy much of anything pal." I ended with "You have a wonderful day now" as he walked out the door and said something forgettable, leaving his friends sitting at the table. They both looked pretty embarrassed.

I apologized again to the two guys for them having to wait longer than they thought they might. They both said no biggie and "he's just grouchy today" about their buddy. I said no big deal too, and "would you guys like a chocolate walnut cookie to take on your ride?" They said yes, so I gave them each one along with a third and told them to give it to "Mr. Grumpypants. Maybe it'll cheer him up a little" (though I doubted it).

I was a little dubious about how I handled that guy. I didn't want to make a bad situation worse, although I said to myself that I wasn't going to let his crummy attitude become mine too. But I did feel bad for the two guys who were with him, they seemed like genuinely good blokes. So I wondered a little if I should have just not said anything at all to the guy. But as I walked to the back our friend Jerry, who had been sitting at an adjacent table said "You sure handled that well. I would've been cussing and everything." And our friend Bob, who was at the counter at the time, came in a little while ago and said the same thing to me. That made me feel good.

Anyway, the gals in the back had to wait just as long (30 or so minutes) as the grouchy guy in the front. They seemed to have a lovely time. They were all very complimentary and loved everything. The guy up front basically ruined the visit for himself and his friends. The moral of the story is that I could have bent over for the guy and said "Oh yessir, I'm so sorry that you had to wait 10 minutes too long. Here's your refund." Some might say, and with some validity, that the customer is always right and that is what I should have done. Not gonna happen here folks. The customer ain't always right (you know that) and we don't need or want that kind of customer.

Don't get me wrong. We really, really want everyone to have a wonderful experience at the Stump, and we'll do what we can to make that happen. But
this is an exclusive club of fun-loving, thoughtful and friendly people. Boors and sourpusses need not apply. My friend Gloria who runs the great salon (GJ's) next door once told me, "You know, you have the right to fire certain customers too." If someone acts like that, they're fired, and they don't get to join the club.

That guy was a boor. He's fired.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

My hate call from an anti-tobacco wacko

Click the pink 'play' button. Read the editorial that sparked this wacky phone call; it's the Stumptoons post from 4/10/09 titled "Coffee and Cigars."

I dedicate this picture to that genteel woman. This outstanding portrait of moi is by Nate Walkner, photographer extraordinaire. Looks even cooler enlarged, with the smoke swirling around (click it to enlarge).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

DeCaf, double short, extra hot, extra dry cappuccino...

This is a somewhat disturbing 30-sec. video skit, but is also kind of funny because of it's shock value. If you've ever worked in a restaurant or coffee shop when it's rush hour and the line at the counter goes out the door, and you're in the middle of a barely controlled typhoon of chaos, and the customer next in line completely disregards courteous café etiquette and brings everything to a screeching halt, then you'll know from what dark place this fictional scenario comes. I think that adding that endless line of customers and scrambling behind-the-counter staff to the scene would have made it more relevant but it should bring a "WHOA! Holy crap!" to your mouth regardless.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Short term memory loss

This is a quickie...another journal entry of daftness by yours truly. I am not the best at multi-tasking. I do best when focusing on one thing at a time. My motto is, better to do one thing at a time very well, than several things quickly and half-assed. However, that motto may just be the excuse I use for my inability to remember which drink is which as I make several at once ("several" being...oh...for example...two).

This happens to me all the time: I make two drinks, let's say a mocha and grasshopper latte, have clearly and purposefully noted their positions on the prep counter so that I can give the correct drink to the appropriate person when I turn to the front counter.
All is well and good, until someone asks me a question or otherwise dents my focus as I turn with a drink in each hand. Suddenly the mind goes blank...turn back to the prep counter to jog the memory...right hand mocha? left hand? what the...?

Fortunately, most people just smile and say "We'll figure it out."

Yep, I'm a pro...

Friday, November 21, 2008

It's me, it's me, it's Earnest T.!

This week's Earnest T. Bass daftness award goes to some knob who left his common sense at the door when walking in. Again, it has to do with that land of fools called the HTR community forum. Our hero (we'll call him "knob A") has a gripe with one of the other posters ("knob B") and, apparently letting the weight of the week get the better of him, called his nemesis out for the rube that he is.Well, a number of folks on the forum are newbies and they had no idea of the history of idiocy displayed by "knob B." They only saw "knob A" rattling "knob B's" cage, apparently without provocation. "Knob B" has a history of rudeness and stupidity that he has directed at "knob A" and other forum participants. "Knob A" justifiably (in my humble opinion) dislikes "knob B" and mocks his stupidity from time to time. However, "knob A" is a fairly intelligent chap who really ought to know better, and when he smacked "knob B" online he suddenly found himself the target of those other forum dwellers who only saw an unprovoked attack by "knob A" on "knob B."
"Knob A" was defiant and dealt with the criticism (which was somewhat justified) pretty well, and even had one or two other folks throw their support his way, which of course was gratifying to "knob A."
My certificate of achievement
Let this be a lesson to you other knobs out there. Forum combat is most often a losing battle, regardless of the justification of your cause. There are just too many dimwits and sourpusses in that land of fools. You'll get raked over the coals regardless. I should have known better...wait, I mean "knob A" should have known better! Yeah, that guy!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Election Year Daftness

Now that the election is over we can hopefully get back to the every-day-garden-variety daftness of the coffee shop. I read and heard more daft pronouncements from friends and acquaintances concerning both major party candidates than I care to recount. Neither camp was immune to dopiness, and I'm sure you've already heard your share of curious opinions and statements concerning either candidate.
I ran into one friend who was/is an ardent Obama supporter..."ardent" might be an understatement...and they (I'm using "they" rather than he or she so as to completely avoid any identification, because these folks are friends and while I think they deserve a little teasing, I don't wish to embarrass) became a little peeved with me when I didn't take their position as seriously as I apparently should have.

Let me be clear that I am an equal opportunity teaser. Zealotry for either Obama or McCain would have and did receive some good-natured ribbing.

They said that they may not have been in the shop lately ostensibly because of something I may have said in jest and that "This is serious [presumably Obama getting elected]. There are poor people in the world."

"Well, go get 'em, tiger," I replied.

"There are poor people in the world." (?)
The inferences are that if Obama were to get elected there would be either less, or perhaps even no poor people in the world as a result? And that the other candidates perhaps weren't as concerned about poor people as Mr. Obama? Puh-leeze. What does one say to that kind of blind devotion (obamania)? Well, "go get 'em, tiger" is as good as anything I suppose.

On the other side, a supporter for Mr. McCain, while in the shop brought up the idea that Obama might just be that fellow that the Book of Revelations refers to as ushering in the end-times. Yup, that honey-tongued deceiver of biblical prophecy. When you hear something like that it's difficult to not reply, at least it is for me. "You're not serious are you? Good grief, that's even more ridiculous than some of the drivel I've heard from the Obama camp."

My opinion: Both of those men (Obama and McCain), as well as their running mates (and the attacks on Palin were particularly nasty and childish), are a combination of honorable and opportunistic. Neither one of them deserved some of the criticism they received and they both did deserve some of the criticism they received. We always hear about how the public hates it when campaigns go negative and attack the other side. That's bull. The public does not hate that kind of campaigning (and both Obama and McCain engaged in it) because the public engages in it themselves! Nothing either candidate said concerning their opponent could rival some of the nonsense that we say ourselves (e.g., Obama is going to eliminate poverty; McCain only cares about rich people; yada, yada, yada... Such nonsense).

People have been asking me who I voted for. The candidate I voted for did not get elected. I have real concerns about the new President-elect's philosophy and stated policy desires. I do, however, believe that he will do the very best he can, I hope that his tenure is a positive one for our country, and that the system of checks and balances will keep things...well...balanced and in check.