Customer Column: A Baker’s Wife=F

Courtesy is really quite simple. Anyone in marketing knows customers do not just buy a product, they buy a feeling. And it’s everyone’s job, from the manager, to the window-washer to the cashier, to make that a positive feeling.

Therefore, I am starting a new column, to expose the good, and more often, the bad restaurants and shops in the Minneapolis area in terms of customer service. And if any higher management sees their shop and wants to give me free vouchers in consolation or appreciation of my reviews, so be it…

First up on the list: A Baker’s Wife

4200 28th Ave S, Minneapolis

Grade: F

Baker's Wife sign copy

My visit to A Baker’s Wife was preceded by glowing reviews of the bakery and service. You can imagine my chagrin then, when our experience was the complete opposite of that. Someone should give two of the workers here a lesson in basic customer service. Let me try:

1. When customers ask if you have another flavor of pastry, do not roll your eyes, refuse to speak and merely point at the flavors you do have.

2. Always say “yes” first, when a customer asks you a simple favor, and then figure out how to do it (like “can you warm these up for me?”). Do not say “Not really.”

3. Do not audibly sigh when customer makes said request.

4. Avoiding eye contact and refusing to smile makes a bakery a hostile environment.

(Bonus): Call your customers back. When said customer calls Gary, the owner of the A Baker’s Wife, on two separate occasions to voice their concerns, and Gary refuses to call them back both times, it makes said customer think this treatment was the usual protocol.

I understand this is a small bakery, the lines are often long, and they try to give you quick service, but courtesy is so easy and goes such a long way. I also understand that this could have been the biggest fluke in the world. But because of our treatment here, we won’t be returning, and in my book, A Baker’s Wife receives the ‘F’ to judge all other ‘F’s.

What was your experience?

13 Comments so far

  1. Aliecat (unregistered) on December 9th, 2009 @ 7:55 pm

    That’s so weird that you had bad service there. I’ve always received pretty decent (slighty nicer than perfunctory) service at Baker’s Wife, even on busy Sunday mornings. Either way, that sucks and I hope they make it right for you.

    P.S. I used to work at a bakery and you’d be surprised at how stressful it is, not to mention most of us have been at work since 6 am (or earlier), so service with a smile is sometimes difficult.


  2. Sarah (unregistered) on December 9th, 2009 @ 8:23 pm

    Wow, more for us then! I’ve never had anything but great service there, including last-minute cake orders and curbside delivery.


  3. ashley on December 9th, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

    You know, honestly, I was surprised too because I had heard good things about it. And granted, there was one nice older lady working. But when 2 different employees are rude AND an owner doesn’t even call you back (twice), that’s grounds for me writing it up. Hope it changes back to good service soon.


  4. Aaron (s4xton) on December 10th, 2009 @ 1:04 am

    Ashley-

    Who do you think you are? Maybe try visiting a second time before trashing a locally-owned place so ruthlessly. This post is rather careless.


  5. Pete (unregistered) on December 10th, 2009 @ 8:54 am

    huh… When I had a cake fall apart on the ride home from ABW, I drove back and Gary fixed the cake and gave me a full refund. Sure hiring teenagers will always give you hit-or-miss service, but Gary was a star. Sounds like “maybe because your from the south,” you need to lighten up a bit and stop being so aggressive? How about sitting and observing on a couple of seperate days to find out if this is a typical experience or just a bad new employee who ends up fired the next day?

    Recently my wife and I had a bad experience at a hip new indian place… we thought “must be a crappy waiter…” so we went back. When it turned out to be the “way they do things,” we know now not to suggest or go back. If you’re a good journalist… you’d know this is part of your job!


  6. Tom (unregistered) on December 10th, 2009 @ 9:45 am

    Every professional food writer I know visits a place 3 times before rendering judgement.They know that one visit is inadequate to form an opinion for reasons outlined by the commenters above.


  7. frozenfoodie (unregistered) on December 10th, 2009 @ 10:06 am

    I completely understand how Ashley feels. Sometimes your first experience at a place is SO BAD that you vow to never return. Other commenters are correct in saying that a real “food critic” HAS TO try a place out three times before making their public judgement … but Ashley’s experience (however isolated it was) should remind us all that she and the rest of the general population, however, are not held to such standards. In the age of Twitter, Fabcebook, etc bad reviews travel quicker. Small biz owners beware


  8. ashley on December 10th, 2009 @ 10:15 am

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I agree that food reviews should be based on 3 or more visits. Seeing as this was simply a customer service review, I thought it was fair to state my experience on one visit. I still think customer service should be consistent enough to judge on one try. A new waiter can mess up your order but still be gracious to customers–and I would not call that a bad experience. Still I’m glad that you all have had different experiences and love A Baker’s Wife, and I’m sure the bakery will continue to succeed without me.


  9. Dan (unregistered) on December 10th, 2009 @ 10:33 am

    this review is careless. ABW has some of the best baked goods ive had anywhere in the cities. although it can sometimes get busy and crowded in the small shop (good food will do that to a place), ive never had bad service.

    having been there dozens of times and always being pleased, i find that your review of going there once, and then trashing a locally owned small business to be very reckless.


  10. mike (unregistered) on December 10th, 2009 @ 11:24 am

    I never have had bad service, NEVER.

    Great food at low prices and owned by caring people.


  11. SaraD (unregistered) on December 10th, 2009 @ 11:32 am

    I have been there more times then one should admit. Even on the worst days (including the day a brick went through the window in the winter) everyone was great. One day, Gary wasn’t comfortable with my plan of walking the cake home 4 blocks – he got his car and drove the cake to my house. I don’t know what you expect from a local shop, but they have always gone above and beyond for me. Even a crazy request for a wedding cake sample that resulted in a cake with four unique tasting options contained within… everything I have asked them to do has always been handled. Sometimes with a tired smile, but a smile none the less.


  12. aliecat (unregistered) on December 10th, 2009 @ 12:44 pm

    I agree that it’s pretty reckless to give a place a failing grade on customer service based on one try. It’s your business if you don’t want to go back to ABW based on your one bad experience, but writing it up publically is pretty suspect based on only one try.


  13. David (jacc) on December 10th, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

    There’s no excuse for a business to treat customers rudely, ever.

    Still, does one bad treatment warrant an F on service? When I used to write the occasional food review I found myself skipping reviews because I didn’t want to go back and give the business more money.

    Which for me personally is the strongest vote of all, giving or not giving my business.

    My two cents: What the others said is a good rule to follow, multiple visits help give a better picture than just a snapshot. You can still grade poorly for one or all of the visits and people will be more prone to find the advice helpful.



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