Seven Minutes (and you’re almost there)

How long would you wait for a cup of coffee? More importantly how long should you have to wait for a coffee?

English: Peacock When Dunfermline High Street ...

Going elsewhere?  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Peacock Rooms’ at the Glen Pavilion in Dunfermline is designed to provide an ‘all year round’ place for families to grab a coffee, eat cake and let the kids run around in a great play area with full length interior glass windows. Good for you, good for them.

So, it’s popular with families and gets busy, particularly at weekends. All of which is great I hear you say. But to be honest I find myself dreading the moment when someone pipes up “lets go to the Peacock Rooms” because the service is in a word ‘dreadful’.

I mean they seem to try hard and they have improved slightly by getting one person to make the coffees, to let the rest of the staff focus on front of house activities like serving and clearing. But… it still doesn’t work.

Let me give you an example. I was there on Saturday and from bitter experience I sadly found myself taking note of the time I joined the (modest) queue.  Maybe six people in front, two of whom were a couple, none of whom were ordering more than a cake and a cuppa…

A cappuccino in a ceramic coffee cup

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seven minutes later I had not moved an inch. Now seven minutes is a long time to stand still. If you don’t believe me then try it. Now try it with a child tugging at your leg and wanting to go and play on a slide. Now try it with a hangover. Eternity?

By the way seven minutes is also coincidentally, the maximum time a trained waiter would regard as reasonable for a person to wait for table service, (and that’s pushing it). This doesn’t bode well for a counter service environment, which is meant to be quicker.

So what was the hold up? I hear you ask. Well it turns out that the counter-staff were having a crisis, one person was struggling and this put pressure on everyone else.

I mean everyone is entitled to a bad day, right? But why does the same thing happen EVERY time I‘ve been there?

Lose count of your order? Fair enough. Forget your entire customer order? Maybe, not listen to your customer because you were distracted? Ok…

Except it’s not ok. This is their job, it’s why they go to work and it’s what they do.

Now training could be an issue here.

Contrast if you will my ongoing experience with Starbucks and Costa. Both of whom employ excellent staff, who despite the natural reserve that comes from being British, seem to have no problems in serving folk with a beaming smile, taking orders quickly and efficiently, taking payment and often seeking out your name to make the whole thing more slick and personalised, cakes and coffee – done.


Starbucks (Photo credit: Piutus)

“But they charge you more”, you will say hesitantly. Not true says I. My experience is that café prices are not a million miles away from the baristas on the high street. But efficiency, cleanliness and customer service are.

I said that I almost felt sorry for the person in my local café the other day. Almost, but not quite and here’s why. If we just accept bad service then it will never change, never improve, which in a venue like the Peacock Rooms is very dangerous. (and yes my comments went in the customer comments box)

You see, the Peacock Rooms are set in a park with no immediate competitor and because they are the only game in town during the winter they’re very busy (rocket science it ain’t). This is why I think they must think its acceptable for uncleared tables, long queues and muddled orders to be the norm.

Newsflash! It ain’t and it’s a real shame, because it totally overshadows the fact they serve great cakes and very tasty coffee… worse still it’s slowly but surely turning me from a customer into a critic and come the summer I can vote with my feet.

But the really sad thing is this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many badly managed establishments out there in the wider world that I just know I will have struck a chord.

Which is why our motto this year should be “I’m not called Matt now stop walking all over me”

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