Café Benedict Sweet Service and The Village Beanery Sour Service Awards

The Sweet Service Award goes to Café Benedict in Franschhoek. Last week the internet did not work at our guest house, and therefore I went to the restaurant to download e-mails, as they offer a free wireless internet service.   I arrived just as chef and manager Llewellyn Lambert locked the doors, an hour earlier than usual, as the alarm at his house had gone off.  He suggested that I sit outside the new Pick ‘n Pay, and pick up the restaurant’s wireless signal there, and gave me the security password.   It did not work from there, and therefore I stood outside a neighbouring shop to pick up the signal.  Ten minutes later he arrived back, opened his doors, put out a table and opened an umbrella, and made me a cappuccino, to ensure that I could do my e-mails, thereby demonstrating his commendable customer-orientation, putting my need ahead of his own.

The Sour Service Award  goes to The Village Beanery in the Constantia Village shopping centre.   I ordered a foamy cappuccino and a slice of apple tart, both of which were disappointing.  I could not drink the cappuccino, it being scalding hot, as if microwaved.  By the time I had finished the tart, the coffee still was too hot to drink.   I called the waitress, told her that I could not wait any longer for the coffee to be drinkable, and that I wanted her to only charge me for the tart.  She sent another waitress, who in turn sent the owner to my table.  Mr Zervas, the owner, became abusive and threatened to have me arrested by the centre security if I did not pay for the cappuccino – I had only had two sips of it, due to its heat.  He then went from table to table in his restaurant, disparaging me, because I had not paid for the undrinkable coffee.   I lodged a complaint with the centre information counter, and was then called by the centre manager.  She promised that Mr Zervas’ wife would call me to apologise, but I have not heard from her in three weeks.

The WhaleTales Sweet & Sour Service Awards are presented every Friday on the WhaleTales blog.  Nominations for the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be sent to Chris von Ulmenstein at   Past winners of the Sweet and Sour Service Awards can be read on the Friday posts of this blog, and in the WhaleTales newsletters on the website.

10 replies on “Café Benedict Sweet Service and The Village Beanery Sour Service Awards”

  1. Paul says:

    Sorry Chris, but this has got to be the most ridiculous sour service award ever! I think it is totally unreasonable to complain about “too hot” coffee. If you were in a rush and did not have time for the coffee to reach your desired temperature, you should at least have the decency to pay for it.

    Put yourself in the restaurant owner’s position: would you have agreed not to charge your patron in this instance? I seriously doubt it.

    The problem with a weekly sour service award is that you are constantly on the lookout for bad service. And sometimes you do scrape the proverbial barrel.

  2. Brandon says:

    You could have asked for the coffee to go. Disappointing tart but you ate it! C’mon. No time to drink the hot coffee but time to go to the information desk. In life you seem to be very unlucky in the service you receive.

  3. Thank you for your response Brandon.

    If I wanted coffee on the go, I would have paid half the price at McDonalds! I have about 10 cappuccinos a week, and have a good basis on which to judge the temperature of a cappuccino.

    My service standards are high. It has nothing to do with being “unlucky” about service. The Sour Award was awarded to the owner for his rudeness to me, as a result of my refusal to pay for an undrinkable cup of coffee.


  4. Dear Paul

    I was in no rush at all, but I do run a business, and half an hour wait for coffee to become drinkable is unreasonable.

    I don’t have to be on the “lookout” for poor service – they present themselves every week. It’s the Sweet Service Awards that are hard to find.


  5. Brandon says:

    Your service standard EXPECTATIONS may be high but your quality expectations are clearly not high if you advocate McDonalds for takeaway coffee!

  6. No Brandon, you are clearly reading things into my reply.

    I was making the point that I had not paid to have a take-away coffee, and that I should not have had to pay as much for a take-away cappuccino. I also wrote that if I had wanted a take-away one, I would have gone to McDonalds.

    I NEVER have a take-away anything, as my service and quality standards are high!


  7. Peter says:

    A sweet award to you for allowing paul and brandon’s responses (both of whom certainly have a point).

    Impressed (surprised?) by your willingness to take their criticism.

    Healthy debate is always better than no debate 😉

  8. Many thanks Peter.

    My first Sweet Award!


  9. Jane says:

    Hi Chris
    I have just read with interest your Sour Award for the Village Beanery in Constantia Village shopping centre. I also have a very poor experience of this coffee shop and will not be returning.
    My husband and I dropped into the centre a few weeks ago for a cappuccino and spotted a “cake & coffee special” at the Village Beanery – so we ordered a coffee each with a slice of carrot cake & chocolate cake. The service was painfully slow. When we finally received our order the cakes were stale and had obviously been sitting in the display case for a long time! (Hence the “special”?) We called the waitress over (after one bite) and explained that the cakes were stale (even though we’d specifically asked if they were fresh when we ordered) and please could she take them away and bring us the bill for the coffees only. The owner, Mr Zervas, was incredibly rude (to the point of being scary!) and how dare we tell him his cakes were stale! We asked him if he’d tasted them, which he duly did and said they were delicious and we didn’t know what we were talking about. We paid for the coffees only and left. My husband is not one who likes to make a fuss at all, but this Mr Zervas’ attitude really irked him! He said I should make my scrumptious homemade carrot cake and take it to Mr Zervas so he knows what good cake tastes like!
    Chris, this man clearly should not be in the service business at all. He is contemptuous and rude to his customers and his coffee and cakes are awful. Sooner or later he will have no customers left. I hope it’s sooner!

  10. Thank you for sharing your experience Jane.

    I received quite some flack for this Sour Award, and one of the Commenters was honest enough to write that he is a friend of the owner.

    I have suggested to Cassis Paris on this blog that they should expand into the space of the Village Beanery – they would do a far better job of a coffee shop, with far nicer cakes, coffees and teas.


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