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Foonbubby's Profile

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Saxby's no good?

There are 2 approaches to dealing with squatters: Respectful and disrespectful.

Respectful is what Panera does, of throttling the Internet during peak hours and putting signs on tables asking customers to head out during peak hours.

Disrespectful is turning down the temperatrure, providing painful chairs, blasting music etc. That is in fact bullying. I'm no different than any other customer in saying that I prefer to be treated with respect and kindness. If they don't I'll spend my money elsewhere.

Nov 13, 2009
Foonbubby in Chains

Saxby's no good?

I used to go to a Saxby's coffee house but never liked it. I went there primarily because of the free Internet. I hated being there, for several reasons:

1. The "chairs" have no backs and were painful to sit on for more than 5 minutes.
2. I observed that my solution to the no-back chair problem, of resting my back against the wall, was making the workers uncomfortable -- as if a show of free will was unwanted.
3. The store never stocked enough bagels and they acted like they could do nothing about it.
4. The food was overpriced in general.
5. The layout of the furniture was weird, with a huge frustrating 8 foot high shelf thing in the middle of the room holding items for sale that everyone had to walk around.
7. Too few tables. Patrons complained about it.
8. Despite the dearth of tables, they had included one table that had an in-built game board for checkers and chess. So if you sit at that one, maybe you'll be asked to move by players?
9. Distracting big-screen TV on the wall, as if the place were a sports bar.

It's hard not to be a little bitter about the painful chairs. It's like they're saying "we don't trust you to pay for stuff every hour or so, so we'd rather just prod you like cattle to get out." It reminds me of a Starbucks and a Panera on the Main Line I've been to where they keep the temperature down around 60 degrees. It's disrespectful of customers. Only a dumb business person would think this policy is clever.

The more I see businesses that are franchises of little-known brands, the more I'm wary of them. It's like the owners don't know how to succeed, so they choose a dumbed-down cookie cutter "sure thing". Why think when you can spend? Why ask the public (who can't be trusted apparently) what they want? They sign the contract and get scammed and I don't feel sorry for them.

Scammed how? Well I've heard owners and workers complain about franchise contract terms at places other than Saxby's, for instance:

- Having to buy furniture and equipment from specific, expensive sources.
- Having to sell specific coffees and foods in specific quantities that may be overpriced, unhealthy or low quality.
- Maybe requiring that franchise specialist consultants design the store layout... for a big fee.
- A huge buy in cost. Tens of thousands of dollars.
- Requirements about minimum profits, types of locations etc.
- Penalties for non-compliance.

Whatever happened to Americans' "can do" attitude? A franchise is a choice for people who are saying "I can't do" and "I'm not smart enough".

About the Saxby's brand:
- The name does not imply coffee.
- From the road, driving by, one cannot see the word "coffee" in the Saxby's logo because the lettering is too small.
- It's not a household name... so why even buy into it?

Out near Seattle, they have highly profitable drive-up coffee stands where the young women serving coffee wear bikinis. Now that's thinking outside the box. That's a "can do" spirit. My local Saxby's however has... a checkerboard table. And painful chairs. And today it was closed with a sign on the door that I did not bother to read.

Nov 12, 2009
Foonbubby in Chains

Cafe Lindo, Kennett Square: Am I being too picky?

I checked today and the meter outside Lindo is 25 cents per 20 minutes. Kennett must actually WANT to undermine its small businesses.

Meanwhile I noticed today that Saxby's was closed and there was a sign on the door. I didn't read it. Not surprising. Their chairs are literally painful and they refuse to offer decent food.

Saxby's was another one of these franchise businesses that was doomed before it even opened. Franchise = ripoff.

Nov 12, 2009
Foonbubby in Pennsylvania

Starbucks sucks, but I stil go there

I haven't seen too many people not paying at all, except in the city where maybe a homeless person would take a snooze in the Starbucks comfy chair.

Usually squatters (my term) buy a $2 item every hour or so. That's about fair I'd say.We're not talking about cafes in Vienna where a waiter serves cappuccino on a silver-plated tray and there's a free cookie with each cup, after all. It's only Starbucks.

Anyway I noticed that Panera Bread puts a sign on tables explaining that squatters should respect the store's need to make a profit during peak hours. They also throttle the Internet during peak hours.

I think most people would prefer a polite sign to an unwritten policy explained by a person.

Nov 11, 2009
Foonbubby in Chains

Starbucks sucks, but I stil go there

Well, the point of the thread is that cafe goers sometimes have priorities other than coffee and that indie cafes should learn that.

Some already have. I visited a cafe in California a few years ago that had more sofas than tables. They had like 6 or 7. It was very cool.

In my case, furniture, parking, and electricity matter more than coffee. A cafe is a place to find some normalcy. Or as Starbucks people say it's a "third place".

Some indie cafe owners demonstrate that they don't get this critical third place concept.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thir...

Nov 10, 2009
Foonbubby in Chains

Starbucks sucks, but I stil go there

Thanks. I did write a guide at one point, but I deleted it since my feeling was that I really ought to relocate to a nicer place. Writing's a good coping mechanism though.

My instinct tells me I should go to the Seattle area. They have drive-up coffee stands there with great espresso served by young women wearing bikinis.

Nov 10, 2009
Foonbubby in Chains

Starbucks sucks, but I stil go there

Starbucks now claims there is consumer demand for the burnt crap:
http://consumerist.com/5018413/

It's a bit like the USSR saying people enjoy waiting in lines.

Nov 10, 2009
Foonbubby in Chains

Starbucks sucks, but I stil go there

I agree that Starbuck's French press coffee is much better than the brewed swill. Consumer Reports also agrees the brewed swill tastes burnt.

Saying "It *is* a business. It exists to make money" is a child's argument. You might as well say "The Italian Mafia exists to make money" to justify their crimes. Or "slavery *is* a business after all, geez". Starbucks is union-busting, employee-unfriendly company. That's evil.

You ignore also that Itse was claiming Starbucks provides a living wage, which I was rebutting. Read before you type.

Nov 10, 2009
Foonbubby in Chains

Starbucks London Fog tea latte, anyone try it?

If you like tea, try a variety called Pu'erh. It is the best tea coming out of China, from trees 100s of years old.

Hard to find though in stores. I buy it from Andao tea or on Ebay.

Nov 10, 2009
Foonbubby in Chains

starbucks green tea latte is really gross

I agree, the Green Tea Latte is horrible.

Nov 10, 2009
Foonbubby in Chains

Starbucks sucks, but I stil go there

As to health insurance, all companies offer full time employees health insurance so again Starbucks is not special because of that. To boast as they/you do that they offer health insurance generally is disingenuous, as you are ignoring the plight of their part-time staff, which is the vast majority of workers.

As to whether Starbucks created the market...

False. If you're talking about rural Missouri, or a bedroom community in the suburbs somewhere, I would agree. In many places like that, there were no cafes nor coffee culture. Coffee was only sold at restaurants, truck stops, supermarkets. But in cities where the majority of the population is, cafes of varying quality existed before Starbucks. I know because I went to them. Some have withstood the Starbucks onslaught by innovating. But Starbucks did not create coffee culture in the cities, it existed already. They just expanded it.

Therefore your argument is wishful thinking, like someone bragging about a sports team.

Starbucks is the Thomas Kincaid of coffee.

Nov 10, 2009
Foonbubby in Chains

Starbucks sucks, but I stil go there

Ipse, it looks like your post was taken from an employment brochure. It has that disconnected from reality cluelessness that is typical of Starbucks propaganda.

Regarding water quality, restrooms and cleanliness, I'd expect that of any cafe or restaurant and if I did not see it, I would call the Health Dept. Therefore mentioning these does not distinguish Starbucks whatsoever. Same with the "gifts" you mention since indie cafes sell ceramics etc.

> 6. They donate to and are actively involved in community events and functions

That's mostly untrue. I've observed that when they "give to the homeless" for instance, they throw food in the dumpster. For more info on Starbucks' dishonest marketing, google "starbucks lies".

> 7. They pay living wages and provide health benefits

Patently false. Most Starbucks workers are only part-time and not permitted to work over 20 hours a week, because that's the threshold for getting health benefits. At $8 per hour and 15 hours per week, that's only $480 per month before taxes -- not enough to live on. Starbucks also has a crazy rule that any lapse in earnings disqualifies a worker for getting health benefits. This is why workers want to unionize Starbucks.

> 8. They made it possible for all those "indie" coffee shops that people seem to love to open and thrive

Starbucks is infamous for its predatory policy of setting up shop near indie cafes in order to wipe them out.

Itse, your dishonesty harms Starbucks. If you treat customers like they are children who can be easily misled with second-rate marketing nonsense then you drive them away.

Of interest:
http://www.usatoday.com/money/industr...

Nov 10, 2009
Foonbubby in Chains

Starbucks sucks, but I stil go there

Starbucks sucks. Their coffee is burnt and awful, their teas are lame supermarket stuff, their food is hyper-expensive, their music is very loud and their employees are encouraged to act like drunks. Probably the only good food they offer is bagels, which they always keep in short supply. Their new attempt at offering coffee crystals only underscores their cluelessness.

So why do I, and so many others still go there? Is there anything that "indie" cafes can learn from Starbucks?

Yes. Starbucks does several things right that even their obnoxious coffee and most doltish employees cannot completely undermine.

First, they provide a functional environment. Their solid chairs, tough tables, decent lighting and available electrical outlets are reliably pervasive. If I can't have high cafe culture (Vienna, Budapest etc), then let me do my thing. People who go to Starbucks to read, write, or work on a laptop can do those things for the most part.

Second, the employees, despite yipping like monkeys half the time, are forced to be friendly and upbeat. In the Philadelphia area, where I have witnessed workers at Borders and Blockbuster Video inventing cruel names for customers, where I have been given filthy silverware at Bertucci's, and where I have seen trash strewn all over the floor at other cafe, frankly the idea of employees aspiring even lamely to professionalism and being nice even if in a dippy Starbucks way is refreshing. I don't ask for much, but customer service in this region is horrific, which makes Starbucks look all the better.

Third, Starbucks often is situated where parking is free. There is a trend now for business to set up shop inside little towns and on Main streets, where parking is expensive. This is a mistake. Starbucks is everywhere. With them, I don't have to risk getting a ticket.

Fourth, in Washington state whence Starbucks originated, they have serious competition. Not so in most other places. They learned things by competing with equals that gives them the edge over relatively weak indie cafes. It seems every indie cafe reinvents the wheel and gets it wrong half the time. I've seen indie cafes done horribly wrong, like incompetently-made "artsy" chair that were painful, or idiot owners who smoked in the cafe, and I've seen it done really well. Starbucks is the Model T of cafes: One size fits all.

In summary, even though Starbucks is a clueless company that makes awful coffee, and in fact it is a union-busting company by the way, they do a few key things right.

Nov 09, 2009
Foonbubby in Chains

Cafe Lindo, Kennett Square: Am I being too picky?

I live near Kennett and I tend to go to the Starbucks, which sucks. It is too loud, the coffee is burnt and horrible, the teas are pathetic, but they have two things that are higher priority: Free electricity for my laptop and free parking. I can sit and work on stuff for an hour like you're supposed to be able to do at a civilized cafe.

I'd give Lindo a try but frankly I like to sit for a while and I would end up worrying about getting a parking ticket. The local Hispanic kid who writes tickets (he can't be more than 19) is very aggressive. One time I parked, got out of my car to put a quarter in, and literally 5 seconds later, he was there checking to see if my meter had expired. Which is odd, because he surely saw me put the quarter in it. Menacing little shit!

If Kennett employs predators to check parking meters then I'm not going to spend money there if possible. I haven't seen anything as bad as that in other towns.

Nov 09, 2009
Foonbubby in Pennsylvania