09 July 2007

"Come back again!" "Over my dead body."

I have a beef against coffee shops lately.

(For my international friends, a coffee shop in Malaysia is a place where one can go have have breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner. For breakfast, simple local foods such as noodles are served, together with hot/cold drinks)

What's my beef? (pun intended...)

The first one is located at Airport Plaza, Lahad Datu. The Sunday it opened, it took out a half page advertisement in the local paper to announce that they are opened for business and the menu listed was very extensive. I spotted one of my favourite : Ngau Lam Mee (Noodles with beef stew). So off we went there for breakfast.

The place was packed, but we managed to get a table. The waiter came, I ordered my favourite noodle dish only to hear him say "Nope, we don't have that". So I pointed out to him that it was listed in their menu in the papers but he is not moved. I then ordered a few more breakfast items off that menu only to be told they don't have those either. We finally have to settle for the most mundane noodle dish of all : Kon Low Mee (Noodle cooked dry with mundane condiments) and waited.

And waited. And waited for the next 45 minutes.

I called the waiter over. He saw my not-so-pleased-by-now face. I asked him why the delay with our orders only to be told they are very busy serving customers. I glanced around and saw tables of no-so-pleased-by-now faces all waiting.

I waited for 15 more minutes and was delivered the best news of all : They have lost my order. Would I care to repeat my order again? Sure, I told him, in my next life. I stormed off that place, never to return. Today that coffee shop is very unpacked, even though others in the same area are enjoying full house status every morning. And I think the owner still doesn't get it.

The second one is located in town, at the new shops near the Executive hotel. Now this one is just opened for business too. Again it was packed, again our orders were late, and when I complained, was told everyone has to wait their turn. I told the owner of the place that of course I understand about queues and all that crap but waiting for orders for 50 minutes which can be fulfilled by other coffee shops under 10 minutes elsewhere is just too much to bear. At least he was apologetic, so I may just give it a second review in a month's time when they get their act together.

The third one was located in the same area, and BBQ meats/poultry is their specialty. Three months ago I had the same problem with it as those coffee shops above : long wait, insufficient staffs, wrong orders etc, and I was very disappointed. I went there last Sunday for breakfast and what a change. They doubled their staffs and cooks and no more waiting despite the place being full. Now this is a place that has learn its lessons, and is willing to adapt and change.

Now, why is that lately in Lahad Datu some people decided that since they have a few spare change, they want to open coffee shops just because they think it is a good way to make money without researching what it takes to open one? What ended up are customers suffering the long waiting times, false advertising, lousy service and worst of all, that take-it-or-leave-it attitude?

My father operated a coffee shop in the 70s through to the 80s, and I know what it takes to run one : dedication, and lots of blood, sweat & tears. Even my father's business was not successful in the end because he was resistant to the change in customers tastes towards the end of the 80s.

So don't any clueless new coffee shop owner come and tell me that it is not their fault that they are slow and lousy with their service. Nobody pointed a gun and forced them to start the business in the first place. They want to play, they have to play it right.


Anonymous said...

Wow, I can imagine your feelings.

I hate it too when I ordered something and the waiter told me: "Out of stock", and then you ordered for another dish, he told you again: "That one out of stock too."

Might as well just close shop lah.

Wombat said...

Cindy : The best thing ever happened was this : At some eating place I ordered this and waitress says nope, no stock. So I ordered something else, also no stock and repeat a few more times. Finally I gave up and ask "Ok, just tell me what you have here?" She was actually lost for words for ten seconds before she can answer me. Unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

LOL!!! That's bad. Really, they should just close shop.

Fleming said...

Just reading about your has me upset. I can't think of anything that makes me angrier than going through experiences like you've described.

I see two lessons here:

1. Bad restaurant service happens worldwide.

2. Never go to a coffee shop or restaurant until after it has been open for two weeks.

Anonymous said...

I've done waitering and trust me, most of the time the bosses will just 'hide' in the kitchen when there is a problem. Of course waiter have to be bombarded lah.

Don't make a hungry man, an angry man cos he won't come back again.

Pai said...

damn.. that is so fucked up man.. they should at least change their shop name to "Restoran Sabar Menanti".. hehe!

i had such experience too, it totally ruined your day man..

Wombat said...

Fleming : That's our rule now. We only go after one month, not two weeks. Two weeks is too short because they are still trying to find the chef. :-)

Kay : Hell hath no fury like four hungry wombats.

Pai : There is a coffee shop in Lahad Datu with a name almost similar : "Restoran Sri Menanti". I have never been in there, maybe my mind is telling me subconsciously DON'T.

Fleming said...

Wombat, I'd hate to run into the Four Hungry Outraged Wombats!

Making a restaurant run smoothly can't be easy, but some do it beautifully. Since it is possible, why don't the rest just declare incompetency and shut down?

This isn't very relevant, but it's advice I heard at a writers' conference:

'Never eat at a place called "Mom's".'

'Never play cards with a man called "Doc."'

'Never go to bed with somebody who has more problems than you.'

I've found it fairly easy to abide by the first two.

Wombat said...

Fleming: We went back to the third coffee shop today, since it did rather well the last time we were there.

Wombat: I will have the Curry Noodles please.

Waitress: Curry Noodles are all sold out.

Wombat: Sold out? It is only 9.00am.

Waitress: A lot of customers ordered it today.

Wombat : *sigh* Then next time prepare more please? Nevermind, I will have the noodles with roast pork and BBQ pork.

Waitress: Ok.

She got my order wrong again. Aaaaargh!