Bijan, a long time bakery at Saratoga and Kiely, has a new branch in downtown SJ, right next to McCormick and Schmick's across from the Fairmont. It's absolutely gorgeous with outdoor seating overlooking a memorial to Ernesto Galarza, and increasing downtown traffic which adds to a pleasant urban feel. The pastries are as pretty as ever, and the breakfast offerings are pretty much what you'd expect, croissants and muffins and coffee.
But the service . . . it's like a bad joke. The person who waited on us couldn't find anything, didn't know what was in the pastry case, and wandered around helplessly trying to figure out what a cafe au lait might be. On top of that, the place was apparently set up so the most seasoned barista would go nuts. Plates on one end, coffee on another, register in a third. I assume our server was a trainee, but nobody was training her. They were too busy trying to keep up with the line in what are obviously poorly organized circumstances, both physical and systems-wise.
At this level, nobody has truly stellar croissants, it's just about reading the paper and not having to do it yourself on a Sunday morning. But that shouldn't take repeating a simple order five times, bringing it back twice, having to personally recruit outside help to get a cup of coffee, and explaining the menu to the help. So we're sticking to Riga, which is under new ownership as of about a year ago, and even Panera, where the counter people know what they're doing. But I hope somebody tells Bijan's because it has everything going for it, now it just needs counter help who can help.
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