I recently visited Newport on business and set off early in case I ran into heavy traffic or a jack-knifed lorry. Luckily, I didn’t meet any such problems.
You seldom do when you travel by train.
I arrived early and wandered into a cafe, sat down and was immediately approached by a pleasant lady who asked me if I wanted to order a hot drink.
She didn’t work there. She was just the curious type. (Joke!)
I said: “I’d like a coffee and a cheese toastie, please. And I’d like the coffee with the sandwich and not before. Thanks.”
What, apart from a glass of water and a biscuit, could have been simpler?
Two minutes later a cup of coffee arrived – just as I hadn’t requested.
A couple sat at the next table and ordered two full English breakfasts.
A different waitress asked if I wanted any sauces.
I looked down at the table and said “I’ve got nothing to put the sauce on”.
She went away.
Twenty five minutes had passed.
Two full English breakfasts were served to the couple on the next table.
By now my coffee was cold and my temper was hot, so I said to one of the waitresses “Excuse me. That couple arrived after me and they’ve already been served.”
She said “Your breakfast won’t be a minute!”
I said:“I didn’t order a breakfast. I ordered a cheese toastie!”
Behind the counter, all four waitresses huddled together, muttering in between giving me sideways glances, until eventually the waitress who’d taken my order said, “I forgot to put your order in! It won’t be long!”
No apology. No offer of a free hot drink to make amends for their sloppiness.
So, I paid for my cold coffee and headed for another cafe, where I ordered a toasted tea cake that took 20 minutes to reach my table, despite the place being almost empty.
The waitress’s excuse?
“We had to wait for the tea cake to toast!”
Oh! The tea cake required toasting before it became a toasted teacake! That explains it!
Newport has a new £100 million shopping centre, complete with several well-known chain restaurants that pride themselves on efficient, pleasant service.
The two independent cafes I visited will need to raise their game in a hurry if they want to survive.
After my meeting, I was asked where I’d like to have lunch.