There’s something foul afoot in coffeehouses along the Washington Avenue corridor lately.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Jeremey.
First came the sad tale of Catalina Coffee and their owner’s bizarre snit immediately after Hurricane Ike, in which he bolted metal plates over all the wall sockets and turned off the wi-fi so that his customers wouldn’t be able to charge their electronics or access the internet despite the majority of the city being without electricity. When asked about these “alterations” and their effect on his customers, his response was “Customers? I don’t care what customers want. What matters is what I want. I opened my own shop because of that.”
He eventually apologized, stating that ” We provided free wi-fi and electricty for anyone and everyone (after making the decision to cap the plugs, we set up charging stations in front of the cafe where the wi-fi signal is still strong, oh and by the way, some jerk stole one of our power strips). For anyone that did not have money, we gave them coffee any way.” But the apology came too late for a community of customers that was utterly repelled by the initial actions the coffee house, and many people have stayed away from Catalina ever since (and at last report, those metal plates are still on the wall sockets).
And out of this Thanksgiving weekend comes an even stranger story: the owner of The Daily Grind, down the street from Catalina, appears to have totally and completely lost her mind.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user chuckwheat.
It began simply enough:
This past Sunday my wife and our friend decided to meet for a late breakfast. At my suggestion we tried the Daily Grind on Washington. I hadn’t been there in a while and had been meaning to as their breakfast sandwiches are fantastic.
My wife and I arrive and our friend was at the counter ordering her food. Excited as we’re up next we both order the breakfast sandwich with coffee. The woman(#1) behind the counter notifies us that they may be out of croissants. Checking she confirms that they are out. The key ingredient in their breakfast sandwich is the croissant so we cancelled our order and I ordered the Migas, my wife ordered an omelet with potatoes. Two simple orders.
”That will be $26.35 please.” Woman #1 said
“Are you freaking kidding me? For a half order of migas, one omelet and two coffees?” I screamed in my head.
I paid without mentioning my displeasure, it was a nice day and I wasn’t going to ruin it by complaining about being overcharged for eggs, potatoes and tortillas. Flag #1
The story is best appreciated in its entirety, suffice it to say that an otherwise benign — if expensive and extremely late — meal ended with the owner kicking out Jason and his wife while screaming expletives at them in front of the entire restaurant:
“Get the fuck out of here you pieces of shit and never come back!” She screams again.
“Go to fucking IHOP.” She says while flicking her hand as if to shoo us away.
Now say what you will about IHOP and their menu but at least they have a code ethics and the big rule in that code of ethics that all businesses in the service industry adhere to is; The customer is always right, even when they aren’t.
Well, we were and now this woman is going insane. My wife and I have never backed down from a fight before so this woman has obviously gotten our blood boiling.
“Are you serious.” I say to her still trying to figure out if I am still asleep or not.
“Get the fuck out of here! Get the fuck out of here!” She screams again.
If you’re anything like me, you’re completely nonplussed at this point. The Daily Grind has been dead to me for a while, ever since their prices increased and their service and food quality conversely decreased. The last time I went there, I also waited nearly an hour for my food (but at least there was a good coffee selection). There are too many wonderful places to eat breakfast or brunch in Houston to put up with that kind of service.
But this story is definitely a new nadir. I — along with Jason, I’m sure — would love to hear an apology or even an explanation, a la Max from Catalina Coffee, who at least had the balls to face his critics. I can’t imagine what scenario would have pushed the owner — the owner, fer chrissakes! — of The Daily Grind to act this way towards paying customers who did nothing other than request the food they’d paid for, but I’d love to hear her excuse nevertheless.
The story has made its way quickly out of the blogosphere and onto Twitter, where news — good and bad — about local customer service spreads like a wildfire set with gasoline. I think it goes without saying that The Daily Grind is going to be dead to a lot more people after this.