Clam Chowder

Today someone tweeted because they were angry about something that had happened at the shop  that wasn’t readily apparent.  

This is what was tweeted.

Dear @21streetcoffee, never change... because in 2-3 years when you have no more customers something better will open in your current space

So I responded saying this:

Hey there let's stop the bullying. If there is an issue, ask to talk to the owners instead of wishing chapter 11

We are a family owned business who chooses to do things a certain way. 

Growing up, if I didn’t like a restaurant, store, theater etc my parents would just say “we aren’t going back there.”  We didn’t discuss it with the neighbors or write some scathing review in the newspaper (hint: prior to 2006).  This was after my mother (the appointed family representative) pleaded her case or asked for what she wanted.  We decided only to not return if we were refused what we had hoped to get.  If we got exactly what we wanted but had to ask for it or it was presented differently my mom still felt as if she had “won.”  If in the end we didn’t want to return, I rarely heard them bashing the business it was more like “oh remember they don’t have your clam chowder, Dom...”  “Oh that’s right...”  and we carried on.

So through my replies on twitter, I learned that the person/people in the group didn’t like that we didn’t have the cream out for them and suggested trying it without.  So I explained that we do this for a few reasons

  1. In the past, the condiment area got messy, smelly, and wasn’t appealing, so we thought that we were being nice by chilling it and serving a fresh milk pitcher to each person/group of people.

  2. We decided that we would have a coffee with cream (or cream + sugar) option that would be amenable to people. It holds up well to the cream and is taste tested to make sure it has strength and flavor that our customers are looking for.

  3. For the coffees that we suggest trying/drinking black, we make a suggestion because it's delicious and we are excited for you to try it.  We don’t think that we are right or are holding out on you.  We are just letting customers know that the coffee that we suggest black, in our opinion, tastes best that way.  In most cases, people give a sip and then decide for themselves. Usually while they are tasting, we are getting the milk out so it’s at the ready. We realize that coffee that we get from Intelligentsia has a higher cost associated with it so we want to give you all of the information that we can.  (Hey, wouldn’t it stink if you bought an expensive pair of pants and they didn’t say Dry Clean on the label?)

I wasn’t trying to be right with this person.  I was just trying to explain our methodology.  I’m an engineer and I guess logical and like to explain what I’m thinking when I feel that I’m misunderstood.  So the folks continued to temper their response with slightly kinder words but wanted to be right after all and explain how they wouldn’t be back.  I feel that these discussions are too common and are downright mean.  If you don’t want to have a discussion and you aren’t planning on returning then your words are just meant to hurt!

The internet is used to attack instead of for sharing, friending, spreading good things.  If you are just there to bully, then simply zip it and don’t try to intentionally hurt someone.  I thought that the issue was greater than just our style.  We were called elitists, wished bankruptcy, and corrected on our responses when we were simply trying to explain ourselves (initially my responses were  concern that someone had made a drink wrong or overcharged them because there was such initial anger).

We all choose to run our businesses, lead our lifestyles, and do our jobs.  Its a shame that the bad moods and ill will of others is projected  or in some cases transferred to us for just being different than what was expected of us.  They said this:

@21streetcoffee  You're a coffee shop!  Provide the coffee and the creamer without us having to ask... that's annoying.

Well I ask you this, if we weren’t all unique and just a little bit different wouldn’t the world be a boring place?  

So I say, let’s all think before we fire off some angry jab at a business made up of real owners with real kids and real employees whose jobs were created and sustained by this company that you are bashing for being a little bit different.  Next time, try starting with...

@21streetcoffee Why do you do (blah blah) this way?

Or even better- ask the person on the other side of the counter, they'll be happy to explain.