Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Conversations With Our Customers: The Seven Second Rule

Some of our Argentinian Shortbread & dolce de leche biscuits had crumbled under the weight of being the best biscuit on Gertrude Street, so we broke them up and offered them as samples to our customers, putting them in a little bowl on the service counter.

A customer asked what the samples are.

Grumpy: "They are broken fragments of our Argentinian shortbread filled with dolce de leche. Please, help yourself."

Customer noms in. Offers broken fragments to her friends.

As as they all start to eat and make phwoar noises...

Grumpy: "Yeah -  they all fell on the floor and broke into pieces, but rather than waste them we swept them up and thought we'd share them with our customers."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Conversations with our customers: The babyccino

A father, a big, gentle creative type with tattoos and piercings, and his son walk into the cafe. The father orders a long black and a babyccino. They sit down. I make the coffee and the babyccino and take them out to the table where the litle boy is having a conversation with their Table Identification Unit, the dinosaur. I frown in thought as I hesitate putting the drinks on the table.

"So who's having the long black and who's having the babyccino?"

The little boy doesn't get it; the dinosaur is far more interesting. But the father, he giggles like a little boy.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Creative Couplings.

I have the most amazing life partner. She is the only one. I have amazing friends.

But I think in this life I missed my creative partner.

Maybe next time.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Conversations With Our Customers: Merle Thornton.

Merle Thornton is a regular customer. Months ago, shortly after we opened the cafe, she and her husband came knocking on our doorjust after we had closed for the day, wanting to come in for cold milkshakes. It was hot that day. I wanted to go home. I'm a bit appalled with myself for even thinking about not letting them in because I wanted to go home.

I said come in, of course come in. It was hot out there and we had the air-con on. Of course they should come in.

The husband, Neil, he's not well. Merle, she has a glint in her eye. You can see it in this photo. They come in for their milkshakes almost every day. Neil is extremely unwell, but this is how Merle looks most of the time.

Google Merle Thornton. I was going to give you a link, but fuck it. Do your homework.

And don't diss the old folk.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Lols In Grumpy & The Dreaded One's Little Cafe Of Awesome


I get mixed reactions when people read my old Grumpy columns in the cafe... and yes I usually disecreetly watch when I see that someone has flipped to the back of the menu and is reading. Sometimes there's just a kind of blankness about the reader, which makes me want to not be there because apparently they think whoever wrote this dribble must be an idiot. The most common reaction is smirking with an occasional chuckle. Sometimes couples will read together, and when The Dreaded One Takes their meals out, they whisper to each other and nod in her direction - that must be The Dreaded One. The other day a guy smirked his way through one column, then when he came over to the counter to pay his bill he grinned a bit more and said "Cheers, Grumpy, I'd like to pay my bill."

Recently, however, I had one of the better reactions, a real life lol. I looked over and someone was really enjoying my story about the time I was too busy being on the Amalfi Coast to make it to anything. It made me smile because, well, it was nice.

Turns out the person lolling is a touring UK performer, in town for The Melbourne International Comedy Festival. She and her partner were staying at nearby apartments and they were drawn to the cafe because of the name. Apparently a certain John Fleming had said that she uses the word awesome an awfully lot, and so she was compelled to come in.

I don't know how many other cafe owners on Gertrude Street are also performing arts writers and reviewers, but this one certainly is, so this was all a lovely bit of chance encountering.

Especially as I enjoyed the show very much, my Australian Stage review being here. And I've enjoyed seeing these people in the cafe almost every day that they have been here so far. They are lovely, lovely people.

Here is a link to the story of Juliette Burton discovering Grumpy & The Dreaded One's Little Cafe Of Awesome as it appears on John Fleming's blog. I sincerely hope that by linking to his blog, which is linked to my blog, we haven't damned some poor souls to being sucked into the eternity of a link loop.

When I Grow Up is on at Trades Hall Meeting Room, 54 Victoria Street, Carlton, 7pm daily (not playing Mondays) and 6pm Sundays. Season ends April 20. Bookings at comedyfestival.com.au or on 1 300 660 013

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Conversations With Our Customers: Be Grateful

When you're feeling crabby and pissed off because work's a bitch, you don't have enough hours in the day and someone in your sphere has this really annoying habit that makes you grind your teeth... when you just don't get why things aren't nicer for you and why it wasn't you instead of that twat in the news that won the lottery... when you can't wait for the new year to begin because this year has been just about all you can take, be grateful.

A new customer walks into the cafe. I've seen her on the street before but this is the first time she has come inside. She wears big clompy boots and a light summer dress, looks kinda cool from a distance. She walks with a limp. She needs a cane to walk. She is not old. She is, perhaps, in the prime of her life, as they say.

Now that she is closer than just out on the street, I see that she has something terribly wrong with one eye. The lid is sealed over a bulging eyeball. Perhaps it was never an eyelid, more like an area of skin that just never developed into its promised function. I don't know why the eyeball looks so swollen. I don't know. I don't know anything.

She asks for a latte with one sugar. Her mouth, I notice now, sags at one corner, like she's had a stroke. Her voice is strange, uncontrolled. I have no idea why she is the way she is. Was she born without sight in one eye? Was this perhaps the reason she was involved in some accident that has left her with her limp and the need for a walking stick? I don't know. I do know that the problems I have with my eye seem suddenly trivial. And the stress because work has been busy... yeah right, what a fucking bitch that is.

I ask her which size coffee she'd like, and she says in that cracked, slightly spastic voice, "I'm sorry - I'm deaf."

I point at the paper cups. She points. I make her coffee, amazed at the stress levels the milk has been causing me (a thing called Lipolysis... it causes tiny, unsightly bubbles after the steaming process... it's sooooo fucking frustrating). Her money has been dumped with a shaking hand on the counter, and she takes her coffee and makes her way back out into what is really a spectacular, sunny day.

So yeah, if work's getting you down, be grateful.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Basil Fawlty Conversation With Our Customers

As you may or may not know, we don't have table numbers in our cafe, we have a selection of animals. It's been a bit of a hit with the customers.

Today, serving a youngish couple, I gave the girl the walrus because it's kind of my favourite and he's a cute little thing. She went back to the table and the guy moved to the counter to place his order. I like to double check things to avoid misunderstanding, so I said to him, "Are you with the walrus?"

Accompanied with a nod of the head in the direction of the table his girlfriend was sitting down at. Or indeed, nodding at his actual girlfriend, depending an how you looked at it.

I was horrified because there was no guarantee that he had seen me give the girl the walrus.

Given that I couldn't unsay what I had just said, I said, "No I mean at the table with the walrus on it..."

The fuck did that mean? At the table with the walrus on it, not at it?

Fortunately my brain came to the rescue by commanding me to JUST STOP TALKING NOW!

Are you with the walrus. Nice one, Basil.