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.