Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Chain or Neighborhood?

International chains give you a feeling of consistency, of global citizenship. You can have the same coffee or hamburger whether you are in New York, London or New Delhi. But why? If you took the trouble to visit a remote place, why not enrich your experience and taste some local specialties?

Personally, I prefer neighborhood establishments to chains. They are usually smaller, more intimate, the staff knows the returning customers and they sometimes serve interesting house dishes. To my pleasant surprise, a new coffee shop opened in my neighborhood, which is really a big deal considering we don't have any shops at all, not even a simple grocery shop. We walked over to the cafe one evening and had a pleasant experience. The place is spacious, the service attentive, the dishes average.

A few days before, I met my Gvahim mentee (a nice French system analyst whom I'm trying to help finding a job) in a chain coffee shop. She arrived earlier and had coffee and cake. When I joined her at the table, no waiter asked me whether I want to order anything, although waiters were walking by our table back and forth. After a long while, I simply caught the attention of a waiter and ordered a decaf cappuccino. To my complaint about not being asked to order, he gave me the lousiest excuse I ever heard: "we didn't make eye contact".

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