I go to Blair's a whole lot, and have been ever since the cafe opened. I know people complained of service from the beginning but prior to the full opening (meaning when they advertised it), it was always great for us. Service could be slow, but the cappuccinos were delicious and the servers extremely friendly. In the last month though, we have noticed a rapid downhill trend.
The reason I go to Blair's is for the coffee. I love Intelligentsia, and a few of the servers are pretty good baristas, or at least they can be. The food for me has always been uneven, though the pancakes have been delicious every time (until two weeks ago or so, when they were just awful - really mealy -maybe just an off day.). I kept returning for the coffee though.
But the last few times, the coffees have gotten worse and worse. That great machine, that great espresso, and still, of late, the coffees are prepared with the same skill as that exhibited by a Starbucks barista (no, this is definitely not a compliment). A travesty to a cappuccino lover like me.
This weekend's visit best exemplified what seems to be wrong with Blair's right now. I went in around 11:30 am and asked for a cappuccino to go. The person rang me up, and placed the bill on the counter. I immediately put a $20 down on top of it, but she didn't take it. She walked away. I was confused, and another person came up the counter, so my husband and I waited against the wall. After a few more min., I managed to get someone else's attention, who gave me change. I gave her a tip. She then walked away. Hmm. So who actually will be making the cappuccino? I awkwardly stood there for a bit, then walked over to my husband at the counter.
15 minutes passed. Me looking around - hello? - standing by the counter talking to my husband, who was reading the paper and trying to contain his irritation. Finally, I approached the woman who first took my order, and she looked at me with bewilderment but said nothing. I said - no, I still have not gotten my coffee. She said, I thought someone helped you. Someone else--yes, a 3rd person--then agreed to make my coffee.
So on a Sunday filled with errands, I wasted 30 min getting a stupid coffee and spent $5 doing it (having tipped the person who simply broke a $20 for me). After they gave me the coffee, the woman who originally helped me shrugged and said, "Sorry, it's just been a really hectic day." Listen, I worked the 7 am-3 PM shift at a diner in Philadelphia, so I know hectic. Looking around, there were probably 2 customers to each server (there were 4!) - hectic it was not. But the bigger issue is that there appeared to be no management and there was clearly no accountability. Although it was not busy, it managed to seem chaotic behind that counter.
I know the owner of Blair's is dedicated and I believe in what he is doing. Unfortunately, while a few of the (breakfast) staff members are wonderful, a few others need a crash course in customer service. I hope Blair's stops the downhill slide and gets back to where it started, because I really want the breakfast-lunch service to succeed. The room is great and they have obviously invested in equipment and ingredients. Now if they could just fix the personnel problem... (sigh).