UPDATE: Café CanCan closed in September 2021
Café CanCan is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever had brunch! The colourful décor looks as though it was designed to be posted on Instagram! In fact, their Instagram feed evoked in me a myriad of feelings, from FOMO to anticipation as I planned to meet a friend there for what I was sure would be an amazing brunch. After all, how could such a beautiful place disappoint, right?
Sadly, our visit to Café CanCan didn’t start well. My friend arrived before me at 10:15am for our 10:00am reservation. When she spoke to the hostess, she sighed and told her she was late. While she was, in fact, late 15 minutes is not unheard of for a restaurant to hold a reserved table. My friend noticed that the restaurant wasn’t busy and in fact had many open tables making the hostesses’ attitude seem quite out of place. Running late happens to all of us and is something most restaurants can easily handle with grace. As a customer, one wants to enjoy their experience from beginning to end, this was not a great beginning for us and Café CanCan.
I arrived shortly after my friend did and despite the rocky beginning, we gleefully ordered our brunch. My girlfriend ordered buttermilk pancakes with brown butter syrup and strip bacon. I ordered the petit déjeuner: bacon, sausage, eggs, beans, mushrooms, and toast (without the eggs or beans). When the pancakes arrived, they were gorgeous and smelled amazing. I definitely had some order envy! The pancakes tasted even better than they looked, like heaven itself covered in syrup. Then my meal came – it also looked good, but not as amazing as those pancakes. I love mushrooms, and these mushrooms did not disappoint: they were browned to perfection and melted in my mouth! Sadly, the sausage was mediocre, and the bacon… well, the bacon was absolutely awful! The bacon was dry and brittle, and totally inedible. It seemed to have been cooked far longer than it should have, and bad bacon at brunch in a big no-no!
Bad bacon and sad sausage aside, it was time to order drinks, one of the best parts of a brunch! My friend ordered an Aperol spritz while I decided to try the Peche et Fleurs, a light fruity drink with elderflower cordial and a peach liqueur called Rinquinquin. But when our drinks arrived, they tasted very weak. After a bad start with the hostess and inedible bacon and now weak drinks, we were officially underwhelmed and started to plan where to go next to revive our Sunday. Before we did, we first decided to let our server know our dissatisfaction.
As a customer experience professional, I know that if a customer doesn’t share their disappointment, it’s hard for a business to fix any missteps they may be making that could be deterring customers. I believe that as long as a customer is polite and calm, they should feel welcome to share any comments or complaints. So, my friend and I mentioned our issues with our meals and drinks to our server, leaving out the hostess’s rudeness. Of course, neither of these issues is the fault of the server. The server responded by saying, “oh” and with that, we asked for our bill. Several minutes later, another server returned with our bill and two eclairs to rectify our bacon and drinks situation. We paid our bill and left with no intention to return.
Café CanCan is beautiful, and most of their food in our experience was great (especially those pancakes). However, the staff seemed to not be trained in how to treat customers or handle complaints. From a rude hostess to a befuddled server and an odd solution to our complaints, eclairs are great, but we still paid for weak drinks and brittle bacon. If our server had offered to bring us new drinks at no extra charge or some less-brittle bacon, that would have been great, and we may have even stayed longer and ordered more.
Staff should feel empowered to make a customer’s visit as great as it can be, and often it’s easier than it sounds. Do you work in the restaurant industry, and if so, what recommendations do you have for dealing with such situations?