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The Curious Incident of the Lemon in the Water

A few weeks ago there was an hilarious kerfuffle in York involving a slice of lemon and some hot water. It gained a lot of media attention and was publicised throughout the national press with tremendous support for the catering industry. If you didn’t get a chance to read it it’s worth a glance - Here

Anyhow this incident did two very good things. Firstly, it demonstrated that the customer isn’t always right and that business owners should grow some balls and a backbone, and stand up to these Trip Advisor bullies. Whist these cowards type away, hiding behind the veil of anonymity, they forget this style of trolling can be so damaging to small companies. I can relate to this because we had a bad review recently. I was inspired by the manager’s response in the Lemon incident, so I decided to publicise this review via our social media avenues. I assume this reviewer wanted an audience, otherwise they wouldn’t write a public review, and therefore I was within my right to send it out to the masses. Have a read if you wish - Here

Although my actions and response on Trip Advisor was equally as cowardly & petty, I though it was my duty to stand up for my staff and my suppliers, who had done nothing wrong. Why should this reviewer subject us to insulting claims, when all we’d done is serve a premium product with the upmost care and attention, whist giving a polite response to her request for a skinny cappuccino? So, shame on you blackcornish1964 and shame on you Trip Advisor for being the advocates of such bollocks.

Secondly, and most importantly, the newspaper articles gave the public a better understanding of the catering industry, and how it’s large overheads and the breakdown of costing something that appears to be worth a few pence is much more complex than first perceived. Heck, even the Daily Mail and its readers supported this café in York. 

I also found this article a useful tool for staff, which sometimes take the side of the customer and feel that things like takeaway cups are free. 

I’m going to highlight some other factors that were not considered in the costing of providing hot water. So the coffee machine we use cost nearly £7000. We have a water filter that cost £200 and is replaced twice a year. There is the cost of keeping the coffee machine on that is about £10 a day and then there is obviously the other hidden maintenance costs when the machine is serviced or needs repairing. But the most important issue here is the cost of someone taking up a seat. We only have 11 seats inside the bakery, so when someone is sitting there and not buying anything, they are taking away potential revenue. We’re quite lenient in the bakery. If a bunch of students take up a whole table outside and only a couple of them buy a drink, we let it slide. Or if someone wants to eat a packed lunch whist drinking a cup of tea that cost £1, it’s kind of ok; it just fits with our relaxed style. But it’s crazy to think that members of the public believe it’s there right to be provided with free service. That’s why we now have a large 8L Kilner water dispenser; because water is and should be free to all, but people can help themselves (that includes non paying customers), just don’t expect a slice of lemon in there.