Mostly your barista’s will be some creative hipster with individually designed tattoos and a range of piercings and will set off most airport security sirens when they come within a few paces of. These creative types float around these coffee shops, cafes and restaurants virtually indistinguishable to the hip and trendy customers. The main bulk of the weekend customers are mainly made up for exhausted executives recovering from stressful jobs that they work diligently at to pay vast mortgages to live in this very area or yummy Mummies with perfect blond children called Hugo or Jocasta. These hipsters bus or cycle in, or may be lucky enough to live in the area, but most probably renting in a house share situation. Unfortunately landlords are now realising their property is probably worth more and will start to either renovate the period piles and rent out at a higher price or sell to an excitable wannabe Chorlton couple who want a slice of the action.
In some way I feel somewhat sad that the hipster indi crowd will be priced out of the market, the independent shops are what makes Chorlton have that unique feeling, that the neighbouring Didsbury (not including West Didsbury in that statement)
There has been a bit of uproar because Costa Coffee has opened in Chorlton and the independents have been a little fractious about it and all over Twitter voicing concerns. With this in mind we decided to pop out for brunch doing the tour of the charity shops (vinyl obsession is fulfilled by the weekly tour) This week I skipped buying vinyl and bought a fabulous Rankin photograph book that copies of are being sold on ebay for £40, I bought it for a princely £2.50. We also bought a turn of the century breakfast table for £80 which is being delivered on Monday – this with a little TLC will retail at £800 in any antique shop.
So with the glow of success from these fabulous finds paid for we whisked past Costa Coffee, which was packed and looked very swish and headed off to Tea Hive on Manchester Road. It has a pleasant buzz about it and we were seated upstairs. We were given menus to look at and waited, and waited, and waited, 15 minutes of being ignored passed. There were around six staff, and yet they managed to talk to each other and gossip but not do what they were paid to do. We wanted to order brunch, not an evening meal! I went to the counter to order, and was told by the woman on the counter, who could only make one coffee at a time someone would be with us in moments. I don’t know what equates for a moment in Tea Hive, but we were ignored for a further ten minutes. We then left. A pleasant woman (not the one who refused to take the order behind the counter. She must only be able to do coffee, one at a time, and not operate a pen and pad) apologised after we explained the lack of service.
We tweeted the incident to the Tea Hive, but I wonder if their service will improve? Is this why independent business is going out of business? Do they know how to run a professional and profitable outfit?
Fortunately, we walked down the road, and straight into another buzzy and vibrant cafe The Chorlton Eatery, another independent cafe, within 2 minutes we had coffee and tea in front of us and our order taken. Lovely fusion jazz played and the well organised staff were proficiently serving and focus on customer service. We will go there again, whether we go to Tea Hive will be debatable.
Would we have got a better service at a chain cafe? I really don’t know, however for independents to thrive they have to deliver, have people that want to work there working there, as ultimately one bad review, one bad experience can put off customers. For example today I’ve spoke to four friends about this bad experience, and even taken the time to write about it. I’d do the same with a commercial outfit, big business can take the hit for a few bad reviews, but can an independent?
Should we put up with crap service, just because they are independent? No! of course not, that’s my opinion anyway.