I have been visiting a sidewalk eatery called Crepe & Latte in Melrose Arch in Joburg on and off pretty much since it opened. It has been a great place to grab an awesome roll or smoothie when I get bored of all the usual places in my area. Crepe & Latte is great for warm weather as it has a number of tables and chairs as well as wicker couches where you can spend an afternoon sipping smoothies and enjoying their awesome sandwiches. Recently I was surprised to discover that this bistro had become Kosher and, as a result, had become incredibly busy servicing tenants and people in the area generally who prefer to eat Kosher food. There is hardly a wide variety of Kosher restaurants in Joburg and I have found that the few restaurants around tend to exploit their customers who are really a pretty captive customer base. Generally I find prices at Kosher restaurants to be exhorbitant and the food mediocre (there are exceptions).
So anyway, discovering that Crepe & Latte had become Kosher and were so busy really seemed to me to be a fantastic decision by the owners of the bistro. They provide something that is really in demand and their food is not the usual fare. They have fantastic fillings in their sandwiches and the rest of their menu really sets them apart from many bistros in Joburg, never mind the Kosher places.
Despite how good their food is (and it is pretty darn tasty), their quality of service can be really lacking. We arrived there today just before 2pm to find they were pretty busy (which is great for them). The tables were packed and we walked into the shop itself to order two rolls to take away with us. We got to the counter, saw there were two rolls we wanted (one was an egg and may with tomato and the other was a pretty good looking tuna mayo) and then stood there with waiters and people who appeared to be the owners or managers wandering around us for about 10 minutes, apparently invisible. There were no other customers around us and there were no tables inside. Granted they were busy but they were hardly running to the tables and back. There were waiters standing around and no one seemed to notice us. Eventually I got the attention of one of the kitchen staff who took my order, managed to put it together for us and then handed it to one of the managers who was standing with his back to us. Another woman who appeared to be a manager noticed us standing in front of her and asked if we had been helped. My wife informed her that we hadn’t really been helped and explained that while one of the kitchen staff was preparing our order we had stood there for 10 minutes or so without being noticed. The manager looked a bit surprised but apologised.
So anyway, by the time our order was handed to the male manager to ring it up, my wife had had enough and left me to pay for our order. We probably would have left had their food not looked as good. What happened next irked me even more. I had to ask the guy holding our food (still standing with his back to me and not bothering to turn around to acknowledge my presence) whether the meal was for free or whether I would be permitted to pay. He said he had to know what the order was and I told him. He then stepped in front of the till (and, in the process, into my space forcing me to move out of the way) and eventually rang up the order. I paid and left, very disappointed with their service.
If only their food wasn’t as good as it is …