When you’re eating a rather indifferent toasted sandwich at ten past two on a fine September afternoon having first tried to order to order food at 12.45, you know things have not gone well.
We called into Chocolate Dayz in Day’s Bay for lunch, a place which served me a stale, partly uncooked vegetable frittata the last time I was there. I stood in the queue to order food. I was tenth in line, and the line doesn’t move quickly.
Twenty minutes later I am finally in front of the lady taking the orders. (Two other customers had abandoned the queue and gone elsewhere). On the way to the front, I noticed a small sign by the till that meals would take about 45 minutes.
Will it really be that long, I asked? What about if I order something from the cabinet? Yes it will be about that long, and no, ordering from the cabinet rather than the menu won’t hasten delivery. It’s now ten past one. I’d already wasted 20 minutes: to wait another 45 minutes (or more) looked risky, so I passed.
Chocolate Dayz is typical of many summertime and seaside cafes; a good menu and perfectly fine on a slow day, but in trouble on a busy day. One problem here is that the lady at the counter is also serving food from the cabinet, putting the cream or yoghurt on the slices and handing them over to customers. A second person at the counter doing that would speed up the order taking at least.
Long delays in ordering and in delivering food smack of poor organisation. There were plenty of customers about – mostly just waiting. And there seemed to be plenty of staff, but none demonstrating any urgency. The laid back vibe is all very well, but it severely compromises service standards.
We walked along the road to the café at the Days Bay Pavilion. Now keen to eat, we choose toasted sandwiches on the grounds that they should be quick to do. In fact I asked the polite young lass at the counter how long they would be. “Oh they shouldn’t take long, should they? she beamed Yes indeed, but unfortunately not so.
It seems the kitchen lost the order. After 45 minutes I asked the same young lady where our toasted sandwiches were. An inquiry to the kitchen got the reply that they’d be ready in four minutes. Just starting to prepare them now, I said to her. She looked down.
It was four minutes when they arrived, delivered by the boss man doubling as a waiter. Are you expecting anything else? he asked, without any suggestion of irony. Only an apology I muttered, but he was gone.
We hear many complaints about service standards. Our wait staff are keen enough and many are trained, but out in the suburbs its family and casual staff on weekends. Organising the ordering, cooking and delivery to food to customers isn’t easy; it requires the application of thought to devise systems, training of staff and practice to get it right.
When the enthusiastic amateurs put themselves in charge, it’s the customers that suffer. It’s unprofessional, sloppy; and detracts from the joy of going out. Certainly we won’t be going to either of those cafés again.