Okay, so I must admit, while the breakfast is good, I’m tired of spending $15 for an omelet or $10 for the cheapest thing on the menu at Miss Shirley’s. Times are tough and they call for tough measures! I think the food’s good but not great. What you do pay for there is the “dining experience” as much as that can be for breakfast.
Let’s take our hats off to Eddie Dopkin at the folks at Miss Shirley’s. They put on a great show. The venue is crisp and inviting, as fancy a breakfast experience you will ever have in Baltimore. You would have to travel all the way to Eggspectations in Columbia to even come close. Dopkin really understands that having any meal is an event, otherwise who would pay the freight for bacon and eggs! His concept has been so successful that there are now 2 more Miss Shirley’s, one in downtown Baltimore and one in Annapolis. Let’s raise a mimosa to Eddie! he’s a man after our own heart, just not our wallet!
Now this leads me to my point. Several years ago and for reasons that immediately escape me, I gave up on Cafe Hon. Hon was the first real breakfast experience in the area before Miss Shirley’s ever came along. They pride themselves on serving a nice hot, inexpensive breakfast with a lot of local flavor. Hon, want coffee with that order! Nice size portions, cake and pie, local Ballmore nostalgia! Now we even have a Hon Fest every year right down on the Avenue……………Hon!
So with the economic changes going on I thought I would return to the Cafe Hon and give it a second try. I have to say I have been 3 times in the last month or so, once with my nine year old daughter Isabel, before suggesting to a friend that we meet there this past Saturday. We plan to meet at 8, a reasonable time for breakfast. she arrives before I do and tells me that they are closed! Closed, on a Saturday morning at 8, when half of Baltimore, certainly half of Hampden and Roland Park is looking for breakfast! Can’t be! I walk to the door, look in the window, look for a posting of the hours…………….nothing!
Well this is odd, could they really be closed? My friend and I look in the window and spot two young ladies standing at the counter, appearing to look into the cash register. We wave, we gently knock, we wave, we wait and wait and wait……………….and knock! Now we’re just……………………..mad!
Are they really standing there, ignoring us, hoping we’ll go away? Imagine, times are tough, people are losing their jobs, businesses are closing, banks aren’t lending money, you know the drill! And all we want is a nice hot, cheap breakfast. We want to give them our $10 and get some change. Remember, I’m a reformed Miss Shirley’s customer.
We stand there what seemed like forever but probably 2 minutes before we said, the hell with this, let’s go to Roland Park Bagel, another Dopkin eating establishment. You think Eddie had a hand in this?? I told my friend, it really doesn’t matter, I’m always looking for fresh material to write about. No sooner I get into my car that I fire off a quick note on my Blackberry! Here’s the point, much like we said weeks ago that ties in very nicely. The answer is always YES! The customer is always right.
Can you or any other business owner really afford the luxury of turning business away and run the risk of guys like me writing about it? Maybe, just maybe we want to spend sometime ” training and coaching ” our employees on the nuances of customer service. How do we get them to walk in the shoes of the customer if not, more preferably, the business owner? The idea here is that all this starts from the top down. What’s your culture? What example do you as the employer set for your team? Have you done the Walk of Excellence, in your business lately? Oh, the Walk of Excellence is one of many talks I have developed that allows you to shine the light on what you’re doing right…and wrong! You have to take that walk every day. And your employees, associates, team members, have to take it with you. And if you don’t, that cheap breakfast will end up costing you a fortune as your customers seek food, drink and comfort at some other fine establishment down the street or across town!
My friends, fellow entrepreneurs…………………..Wake Up and Smell the Coffee!