My older sister visited Paris a few years ago and she fell in love with the city, the food and the courteous people. For months she couldn't stop talking about her trip. So you can imagine her surprise when a french cafe opened its doors right here in her hometown , Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I remember her phone call a few months ago when she told me , "When you arrive from Croatia we have to visit this place!" Since today was a rainy morning it was the perfect opportunity to be indoors and spend a nice afternoon with my sister and her boys at a french cafe.
We arrived in the middle of their lunch hour, 11am to 2pm. There was a long line in front of us, luckily there were children's books strategically placed on the shelves to keep our kids occupied. As I looked around the cafe I was worried we wouldn't have a please to sit since we arrived during a busy time. We couldn't save a table because there was a sign that specifically said, "no table saving, please sit only after you have placed your order."
When I reached the counter the lady told me to hold on as she left the counter to finish the previous order. I replied, "no problem take your time." I knew it was busy and probably a stressful time as I reassured my sister after she whispered, "she doesn't seem very courteous." The cashier returned to the register and said, "Can I help you?" I said, "Yes I would like two coffees, one apple tart, one..... then she interrupted me to ask if I was having lunch. Cheerfully I replied, "oh no, we are here to enjoy your pastries and coffee." There was silence from her part so I continued with my order I repeated, "so that was two coffees, one apple tart, one napoleon, and three madeleine cookies." She gave us our total and we paid then another lady approached the cashier, I think it was the owner Isabelle and she told me, "since you are not having lunch the only table I have available for you is by the window, I need the tables for the customers who are having lunch." I said, "sure we will take it."
The table she was offering us was for two and there were FIVE of us. I continued in my restrained voice, "we can sit the kids in high chairs." She said, "I only have one!" I mumbled , "that's ok." I was furious but I didn't want to show my anger and frustration in front of the kids. Beli then started crying and the boys wanted to sit down, but we didn't have enough chairs. I thought, "Since when does it make a difference whether your lunch consists of a salad or a cup of coffee and a pastry?" Plus, didn't their website mentioned that if you had a party of 5 you could call and reserve a table? Maybe I should have called in advance for a table.
I don't think I will be returning to visit Croissant Du Jour as I'm not prepared to be segregated to the 'coffee section' because I choose not to order from their lunch menu. Who wants to drink their cup of coffee standing up? Although, I will add that the owner after seeing my sister standing with a 3 year old in her arms did bring one extra chair to our table. That was nice of her right?
What would you have done in my situation? Am I overreacting? This was not the customer service I was expecting after living abroad and returning to the States. I can understand this sort of behavior in Croatia but not the friendly Midwest I remember from my college days.