Archive for the ‘Eating Out’ Category

Customer Column: Franklin St. Bakery and Rosedale Weight Watchers

Let me first say, it is my belief that customer service should be consistent enough to judge on one random visit. This was the protocol for a place I worked in college–there would be a random, anonymous visit from someone posing as a customer once a month to score us. Having a bad day was never to be taken out on the customer, and was even grounds for being fired. If someone was new and fumbling with orders, they could always make up points for being courteous and treating customers with respect.

So, the reviews in these columns are based on one visit. Think of it as the random, anonymous blogger, making no claims to reviewing-authority, simply reporting on their first impressions of customer service. That being said, here are two positive experience I had in the last week.

Franklin Street Bakery=A
In contrast to my last column, Franklin Street Bakery gave me the feeling that bakeries should: warm, sweet and a leaving a good aftertaste.

I asked the same thing as I did at a previous bakery, “Can you warm these up for me?” and the nice young man in skinny jeans said “of course,” instead of *audible sigh* “Not really.”

Smiles were aplenty and service was gracious and patient, even though the shop was busy and customers had questions. And the donuts, though more than I usually like to pay per pastry, always taste better when you leave with a smile. No wonder it’s won 4 “Best Bakery” awards.

Franklin Street Bakery

1020 E Franklin Avenue

Grade: A+

What was your experience?

Rosedale Weight Watchers Center=A+
The new Weight Watchers store in Rosedale Mall really impressed me with their customer service. My husband and I were Christmas shopping for my mother in law, who’s doing great on the Weight Watchers program, when we spotted the new shop. Unfortunately, the store wasn’t open yet, and the ladies inside were only setting up for the grand opening the following day. They however, kindly let us in, shop around for some recipe books, and purchase gifts before their cash register was even up and running. A hand-written receipt and plenty of warm smiles let us leave very thankful they went above and beyond what was necessary.

Rosedale Weight Watchers Center

Grade= A+

2018 Rosedale Center
What was your experience?

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?

You do the Math, Party Math!

With many folks planning holiday get togethers, cocktail parties, family dinners, office events and any manner of holiday celebrations the Party Math Wheel has been created to make all kinds of complicated calculations more simple. Like, how many bags of ice you will need depending on how many people you have expected, or how many hors d’oeuvres to beer and wine calculations, even how many limes & lemons you’ll need for drink garnish.


The handy wheel you can print out for free from your own computer “does the math” for you, so no need to tax your pretty little party head when you are already busy trying to plan a menu or deciding whether to seat Aunt Millie next to Cousin Fred or debathing whether your new little black dress is too little for the office party.   The Party Wheel was developed by Sebastian Centner the director of Eatertainment Special Events in Toronto and is sure to be the saviour of many a host & hostess.

The same website also has a very useful Five Week Checklist for planning your party. You can certainly condense that now but the checklist is very helpful.

So spin the wheel, how many bottles of sparkling water are you going to need for your big bash? Do the math, the Party Math.

I am not a restaurant reviewer…

…I just really loved this place.

The last two Sundays my better half and I have had the urge for brunch. Mainly, we’re lazy and know it’s probably going to be the only thing to get us out of the house on a Sunday morning/afternoon. Last Sunday, we decided to head to Longfellow Grill to use up a gift certificate I’d gotten on one of the various half price deals websites that are floating around out there.

I hadn’t been to Longfellow for a couple of years and I don’t remember a lot about that morning. I don’t even remember what I ate; I just remember I had a spider web tattoo drawn on my elbow in Sharpie from a trip to the bar the night before that scared our server. I didn’t remember that tattoo session either. Thankfully, it was temporary.

Last week, we both took the advice of our server and wound up ordering Chilaquiles (for me) and Fresh Strawberry French Toast (for her, which she’s still talking about). I’m a giant talker when we’re out somewhere eating, but I didn’t have much to say during brunch. It was seriously fantastic. Savory and spicy for me; sweet and syrupy for her — so, we were both happy. So happy that we decided to go back again this Sunday.

We only had to wait about 10 minutes, as opposed to the 20 we waited last week. Regardless of the wait time, I would have hung around. There’s a Dunn Brothers and a Corazon there to keep you busy if your wait is too long. This morning, they passed around samples of French toast to those of waiting in the foyer and outside. Once we got to our table, we knew right away what we wanted — the same thing we were going to try last week before our servers’ recommendation. I went with Breakfast Tostadas and the better half sampled the Killer Banana Waffles. The waffles came with a banana sliced down the middle and roasted. Roasted banana is genius.

Next time, I’m ordering three roasted bananas and a side of bacon. I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.

And, of course, they’re on Facebook, too.

MSPTweetup Goes Cuban


Twitter is a wonderful way to meet new people and often times those people can become quite close in the Social Media realm but wouldn’t it be nice to meet those people in real life?  That is what MSPTweetup was organized to be, a regular event for Twitter folks in the Twin Cities to mix and mingle at a local establishment to put faces to usernames.

The Thursday, November 14th MSPTweetup was a big success, held at the Bulldog Northeast and sponsored by IZEA’s Sponsored Tweets there was a huge turnout enjoying the tater tots and conversation.

Planned by Kareem Ahmed & David Dellanave it was one of the largest MSPTweetups. And then it happened. The special surprise guest arrived.  Dallas Mavericks owner and twitterer Mark Cuban arrived at the MSPTweetup. 

Twitpic of @kazeemy & @mcuban @bulldogne #msptweetup

Twitpic of @kazeemy & @mcuban @bulldogne #msptweetup

Ahmed had met Cuban previously and had invited him via Twitter and Cuban, in town for the Mavericks vs Timberwolves game accepted and surprised everyone in attendance.
Unfortunately I had left the event just minutes earlier.  Had I been driving I would have turned around to go back but as I was already on the LRT home I could not. 
From the Twitter Stream of the event Mr. Cuban was very friendly discussing business with some, just shaking hands with others.
@snyd043 & @mcuban @bulldogne #msptweetup

@snyd043 & @mcuban @bulldogne #msptweetup

To have the opportunity to mix & mingle with Mark Cuban at the MSPTweetup was certainly an unexepected bonus of an already tremendous event.  How often do you get the chance to pick the brain of a billionaire entrepreneur over beer?
If you are interested in attending future Tweetups, follow @msptweetup on Twitter, or visit their website for more information.  You never know who may show up!

Did anyone catch this bus?


photo by Meghan

The  Magic Bus Café outside the Northrop King Building in Northeast Minneapolis.  Their specialties are hot dogs and organic relishes.  I was tempted to try the psychedelic relish made with mango chutney, yellow pepper and curry powder.  I caught it this afternoon as I was leaving NKB’s annual Art Attack event.

Sweeney’s Recovery Happy Hour

As the recession is on the upswing (or it will be if we keep telling ourselves that), let’s go celebrate with cheap food!

Sweeney’s Saloon in west St. Paul offers a Recovery Happy Hour EVERY day, from 3-6pm, with $.50 tacos and $2.50 (select) pints.

I went last week with the goal of feeding two people for under $10, and was actually impressed by how active the pub was for being 4pm on a Saturday, with no home games on TV. The noise level was somewhere perfectly in between “So empty I feel awkward talking above a whisper,” and “So loud I can’t hear my friends.”

The tacos were… meh. Worth every cent of the 50 I spent, but not the best bar food around. The beer was cold though and the atmosphere was nice. The HUGE basket of fries was the highlight of my culinary experience there. Also, the women’s bathroom is above average for a bar, but I hear the men’s does not hold to the same standards.

Sweeney’s also has decent late night specials, so check them out.

How Green Was My Garden: Goodnight Garden


Tucked in for the Winter (Pamz2)

Tucked in for the Winter (Pamz2)

Putting your garden to bed is never a fun garden chore.  I am in the process of doing mine and I speak from experience. But it is a necessary one and there are certain things to keep in mind to ensure a happier spring. Peat Wilcutt, famous is conducting a seminar on proper techniques for putting your garden to bed for the winter as well as planing garlic and other fall crops.   Details of the seminar below:


Famous Chickens in the City Instructor, Peat Wilcutt, will provide you with the tools to have a proactive approach to perennial and vegetable winter gardening

Date:      Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Time:      6:30pm
Where:      Urban Earth Cooperative
Topics included:
Winter gardening
setting up a cold frame
planting fall crops such as garlic
cover crops

Space is limited so reserve now for Peats class tonight, October 20th!
To pre-register call Urban Earth at 612-824-0066
$10 for members
$15 for nonmembers
Each student will receive a free heirloom garlic bulb for planting.
Urban Earth Cooperative
910 W. 36th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Minnesota State Fair Opening Day in 20 Seconds

Thanks to MPR you can now watch thousands of fair goers eat millions of calories in less than a minute. Mmmmm, I’ll take 18,000 pronto pups.


Minnpost reports

A record-setting crowd visited the 2009 Minnesota State Fair’s opening day Thursday. Minnesota Public Radio captured a portion of those 114,439 people from a video camera setup near its stage at the Fair and sped up the time from opening to closing to make this 20-second video.

So you know, go get something on a stick.
(What is the dude at 1:27 up to?)

I hear Summit has beer on a stick this year. I’d like to see you drink a day’s worth of that in twenty seconds.

Seriously, do it, send me your video.


Totally Doin’ It with Art and Emily: Fresh Taste Festival

We went to the second annual Fresh Taste Festival, an “organic, sustainable food and wine event” put on by Minnesota Monthly.

Art’s Part

While I truly enjoyed the Fresh Taste Festival, for me this was an exercise in fantasy. The tickets cost $55 each, which I would never have been able to afford had Emily not won them. And even with the cost absorbed by the fact that the tickets were won and not purchased, nearly all the foods I tried were organic or otherwise boutique, which means they were mostly cost prohibitive on my nonprofit wage.

But as far as exercises in fantasy go, this one was pretty great. I got to see people and be seen by people, I got to be outside (sometimes) on a perfect August day, I got a pretty sweet commemorative wine glass, and I got to gorge myself on interesting and not so interesting foods.

The biggest surprise was a habanero-based spread. It did not singe my mouth; rather, it left a pleasant warmth on the sides of my tongue unlike any other kind of spicy food I’ve ever eaten. This came from Kayak Kitchens, which does not have a storefront, but which has a website. It’s all good.

This tasting gave me an excuse to confirm something I had long suspected: grass-fed beef is bogus. I was actually a little excited to try the hamburger patty they provided, but was let down to find the beef tasted normal at best and was actually a little chewy—NOT the buttery-soft supermeat I had been promised by oh so many hippies.

The chef demonstrations went at such a pace that I don’t even know if they were interesting because I got up after 20 minutes due to it being boring crap and not actually a demonstration of how to cook food. Live chef demonstrations are dumb in general though, so there you have it.

Overall, I’d say I really enjoyed this event, but I don’t know that I’d make a point to save $55 for it. If I had $55 lying around, I’d definitely make it back, no question. If you need more convincing to go next year, the proceeds do go to Minnesota Public Radio! (But considering all the new stations they’re opening all over the state, I think they might be able to get by without your $55 donation just this once.)

Emily’s Part

I’ll preface my review by saying that I won two tickets to this event via Minnesota Monthly’s brand new Twitter account. I’m very interested in food and wine, especially sustainable and organic food and wine, but $55 in advance and $65 at the door?

I don’t have a job, people.

But anyway, when I saw that they were giving away pairs of tickets to basically the first ten people to ask for them, I jumped at the chance to go.

So Sunday morning, with our stomachs empty and our hopes high, we got on the bus and headed to Nicollet Island for the event.

After a bit of a snafu at will call (no one seemed to have informed them of the 20 tickets that were given away via Twitter), we were handed our passes, a wine glass (one of their goals is to make it a waste free event, so we rinsed and reused the glasses) and a free subscription to Minnesota Monthly (score; I love magazines!)

Then we went on our way to try some food and wine.

Which, for the most part, was very good, and most of the exhibitors were knowledgeable and excited to talk about their offerings. Some particular standouts were butter from the Hope Creamery (no idea butter could taste that good) and Haute Habanero Paste (I don’t know who came up with the idea to put it in pumpkin bread, but I want to kiss him or her on the mouth).

I also didn’t mind trying a few varieties of Flat Earth beer, which was being distributed at a booth that was also offering massages and chocolate. That’s excellent planning.

And, though they weren’t feeding me, I had to respect the people from Tap Minneapolis, who were very enthusiastically extolling the virtues of our city’s tap water and pointing out the many ways in which drinking bottled water sort of makes you an a-hole (but being nicer about it than me).

So anyway, let’s get to the bottom line.

Did I have a great day?

Would I have paid $55 for it?

Would I be willing to pay $55 for it someday in the future when I have a job and a little more disposable income?

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