We are fickle. It is like going out to bat in cricket. You make a long walk out to the middle; get your bearings by taking centre; and if you don’t perform you make that long walk back to the pavilion, sometimes never to return to the middle. It might be a stretch but that is a metaphor for a café’s first performance.
There are a range of customers that allow café owners to make a profit. The base, or annuity if you like, is the regulars. The cream is the others. Those who come once but recommend to others (who themselves will hopefully visit more than once), and those who are patrons, but just less regular.
The regulars are easier. If the café walks out to the middle, bats a bit too far out of their crease, and makes a wild shot only to be caught out, they’ll still get selected to return and give it another crack. Some of the less regular patrons might even do the same. But what about when there is an off day, or an off section of the café, and a potential multiple visitor comes in?
We visited Fitzrovia for the first time on Boxing Day. It took us some time standing at the entrance to be greeted by the ticket seller. When we eventually sat in the stand we noticed others had better views of the wicket. Fitzrovia went out to bat and seemed to defend its wicket in a reasonable manner.
It was like we were watching a different game though. The flashiness we’d heard of in the reviews was missing. There were no wild shots being made, but eventually the tired forward defensive shot led to an edge, and Fitzrovia was caught in the slips, making a walk back to the pavilion that was no more memorable than any of the other batsmen I’ve seen in the tail. The performance left a lot to be desired and it’s unlikely they’ll be chosen to bat again. Maybe they can carry the drinks?
This might seem harsh. The toastie was great; a generous serving with cheese oozing out like you love, and plenty of meat. The thing is there are hundreds of great cafes that can serve the same quality of food. The coffee was good, without any frills or any flavour note that piqued my interest. The point is that there are too many cafes in Melbourne that are killing it, to go back to one that should not be open on Boxing Day.
The holiday period is important. There are less options meaning there is more of a need to experiment with new places, or travel for the privilege of a decent meal. That means there are more first timers coming through the doors. In other words, if you are going to stay open, performance potentially matters more over the Christmas holiday period than any other time during the year.
Contrast that with staff who would probably rather be doing anything other than working, on the day after Christmas (which can be a very tiring day). The question is whether I should be apologising for going for a post-beach feed on Boxing Day? I have decided I don’t. It is incumbent on the café to provide as close to the same performance each time a customer steps in.
Today we waited for a long time to be seated which is fine normally, but several staff saw us and didn’t approach or even gesture. We actually thought it must be full and we would have to wait for the manager to put our names down but it wasn’t. There were several tables upstairs completely empty. Then we were seated by the one person who seemed to care, but it was not her section so no menus came until we asked for them. In fact, it felt like the section was not part of any of the floorstaff’s portfolio, so it was again up to the one staff member to come and take our food order. We left to pay before the plates had been cleared.
Looking at the reviews (that attracted us to going to Fitzrovia in the first place) this is not the usual experience. Unfortunately it was ours and there is unlikely to be a reason to go back again. Fitzrovia has been retired from our Starting XI after one uncharacteristic performance.