I have a favorite restaurant here in Eugene that I absolutely love...or should I say…did love. This cafe has several locations around town and they are wildly popular. Like any business would want to do, they are hoping to capitalize on their success. Thus, they just opened their first "franchise model" store in town. But if this new store is any indication of their future success, I wish them well -- as they will need it.
I went to this new location on Saturday with my two toddlers. I ordered my usual item -- only to find it very light on some of the ingredients I am accustomed to. When I asked for a bit more sauce to put on my very dry dish, I was told I could pay $1.00 extra.
Next I ordered a PB&J plate for my kids to split, then picked up a $2.50 bottle of water. When the clerk told me my total, I was astonished -- $6.00 for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on a plate. No side of chips. No fruit. No nothing. When I asked her if she had rung it up correctly -- she confirmed that indeed she had.
Equally as shocking was when I asked for a small cup to pour some water into for my son. I was coldly told no...that I needed to buy a drink. What would you classify that $2.50 bottle of water I just bought?! She said I needed to buy a fountain drink. (Incidentally, the fountain drink costs $1.25 – they might want to do the math on that one.)
As much as I love this hometown favorite, I really hope they revisit their strategy before going large scale. Perhaps if they spent less on the teak booths and marble counters, they could save a little bit of that money and spend it on things that will bring customers back. Growth can be good if done in the right way. Changing your image and veering away from what made you successful initially can make for dangerous waters,
The old adage really does apply: Make a customer happy and they will tell one person. Make them mad and they will tell 10.