24 July 2012

Black Star Co-op

I am going to start off by saying that the food at Black Star Co-op is amazing, the beer is excellent, and the guest taps are impressive. I like the location and the decor. But something was missing.

The ordering process is a little different. You walk up to the counter, pick up a menu and, like "Seinfeld"'s Soup Nazi, take two steps to the left while you decide what to eat so the people behind you can do the same. Once you decide (and it's hard to decide--everything sounds delicious!), you hop back in line and order your beer and your food. The clerk hands you  a small square number on a tall stand.

The sign above the counter tells you to put the flag at the edge of the table so the food runner can see it. Really? The stand is tall enough that I have to look around it to see the chalkboard to decide what beer I'll be drinking next.

There's another note on the sign above the counter: When you want a refill, you are to rejoin the line. It warns that lines can get long, so plan ahead. Another note tells you to bus your own table. I've eaten in McDonald's. I'm used to that.

There's another note informing you that there is no tipping allowed. The employees are paid a living wage. Okay, I'm down with that. I won't tip. After all, I had to bring the drinks to the table, handle the order, and clean up after myself.  

But here's the thing, everyone behind the counter seemed indifferent. No one smiled. No one welcomed me to the restaurant. I did get a thank you when I paid, but the clerk's face stayed in frown mode. Maybe that living wage isn't so great, after all. 

The next day, I stopped at the local brew pub and I was greeted by almost every employee that works there. And the server smiled at me, made me feel welcome, and got a nice tip. It's true that I'm a regular at the brew pub here, and am not one at Black Star, so maybe that's why no one cared that I was there.

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posted by Jeff Holt at 09:10

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