Fans of the former Pacific Coffee outlet in The Place, regular contributors 8 Songs and Ba Songs visited its successor, Esquires Coffee, and left less than impressed. Writes 8 Songs [my highlights]:
Esquires Coffee has opened this morning [Sunday], where Pacific Coffee used to be, at The Place.
But the man in charge is no gentleman.
We came in about 10 a.m. for a spot of breakfast. The place is laid out a little differently to Pacific, and decorated much like any other coffee shop. The New Zealand woman training the staff told me that Esquires is a Canadian company, now franchising into several countries.
As usual for new Chinese shops, the place was festooned with flowers out front, while inside, the florists were still arranging more displays.
We went to order food and drink. A staff member joined us at the counter, and took half our order. She then went off to start collecting the items, oblivious to me trying to get her attention to take the rest of our order.
The other five or six staff members behind the counter were too busy doing nothing to take any notice of me. Finally the young NZ lady noticed my distress and had the coffee added to the order.
Meantime, Ba Songs was admiring the floral display inside the shop. She pulled out her camera to take a snap, whereupon the manager rushed over and in gruff Chinese ordered her to put the camera away. Ba Songs explained she was only taking photos of the flowers, but that wasn’t good enough for this man. He yelled at her that she was not allowed to take photos. She asked what was the big deal, but this guy upped the volume and lowered the tone, using Chinese expletives to make sure she understood she wasn’t allowed to take photos.
By this time, a small crowd was gathering. But the manager didn’t care and kept repeating his directive, while Ba Songs was demanding a tiny bit of customer focus.
With nine coffee shops in the immediate vicinity, plus more opening in the Prosper Centre, this guy has no shortage of competition. We will be voting with our feet.
Please warn your readers, if they go to Esquires at The Place, don’t take their cameras – or expect reasonable customer service.
Just before posting this, I received a second opinion of Esquires Coffee, this one from p3wong. She writes [my highlights]:
I went to Esquires today and had to wait 15 to 20 minutes to get a coffee. There were three or four people behind the counter, and I saw a blond woman heat up some milk for them, but there was only one guy making coffee – and he was slow. They ran out of large cup covers. Yesterday they had soy milk, today they did not. Today they put chocolate syrup on my mocha, yesterday they did not. Obviously, the staff are not trained well enough.
True, it is early days and the place might simply be going through growing pains, but first impressions can be lasting ones, and this is a chain and thus should have a system for getting service quickly up to speed. And there is no place, at any time, for rudeness from management. I will soon check out Esquires Coffee myself and report back here. (Note: According to this story, it looks like Esquires Coffee is a New Zealand chain, though 8 Songs says he was told it is Canadian. Update: According to this site – click “Canada”, then “about”, then “history” – the company started in 1993 in Vancouver.)
Grab a java II: Pacific Coffee