I am a freelance writer living in Gloucestershire. I have been writing family style articles in the form of columns for newspapers since 2000 and spent four years presenting an interview chat show on Forest of Dean Radio.
Published December 17th 2012
Cakes, good old fashioned customer service and Wi Fi too
In the wilds of Gloucestershire, we don't so often have the benefits shared in the greater metropolises. It is therefore an exciting new event when we have a new cafe on the high street. It is so exciting in fact that having discovered the most recent Patisserie Valerie, which opened its doors in Gloucester earlier this week, Eldest Daughter couldn't wait to show me its wares.
It had already been an exciting morning. Being the busiest retail Saturday of the year Eldest daughter and I were looking for a parking place in the multi storey car park. We had almost given up hope, when who should we see by pure chance, but 18 year old and her boyfriend in the boyfriend's car. They were just about to reverse out of their parking place. Another car was behind them, waiting for a place, but, unfortunately for the other customer, and luckily for us, 18 year old's boyfriend could only reverse one way out of his space, meaning that he blocked the other customer from getting into the then empty space. And the only way that the other driver could actually get out of the car park was for us to then take the car parking place, and for the other driver to then drive out and find a different space. It was a bit like one of those games which you get in a Christmas cracker, where you slide one plastic bit up and then slide another plastic bit across. There was just no choice in the matter. We had to either park there, or continue to block up the whole car park and probably the whole of Gloucester.
For those of you who aren't lucky enough to live in or near Gloucester, you may have already experienced Patisserie Valerie at one of its many locations over the last eighty eight years. You will know therefore that Patisserie Valerie is reminiscent of the cafes from many years ago. You are greeted on arrival by a smart waiter or waitress, dressed in black and white, ready and willing to attend to your every need. You are seated, and then your order is taken, and you have the feeling that you are in a restaurant, which is of course how it should be.
We have however become so accustomed of late to the sofa laden cafeteria alternatives on the high streets, that we have forgotten the joy of going out for a coffee or tea and being treated like a member of the royal family. Of course the big high street coffee chains have done wonders for the British taste bud experience. Coffee when I grew up, out and in, tasted dubious at best. Now however, we have a whole host of coffee shops selling coffee, to taste as it should. With it though has come an acceptance that we queue up, pay huge prices, wait for our coffees whilst standing, and then find a seat. And if you are very lucky, you sometimes manage to get to sit in the comfy sofa.
Cafe Valerie is a chain with a difference. They too serve excellent tasting coffee, magnificent French pastries and deliciously tempting cakes, but all with that old world charm and proper service. Service which was started by Belgian born Madam Valerie herself in 1926, at the original cafe, in Soho, London. Madam Valerie wouldn't have offered free Wi Fi of course, but, had it been invented, she probably would have done.
The first Patisserie Valerie opened its doors in 1926, in Soho, London
Now, as often happens when you want to impress someone with your discovery, Eldest Daughter was met with a brief disappointment. We had been sitting in our seats for a few minutes, having ordered, but nothing had happened. I looked round to see whether or not our order was on its way. Immediately the manager, came over to check that everything was all right, and when he realised that we hadn't yet been served he sprung into action. Like magic our order appeared. Most importantly though was that he cared so very much what we thought, and he clearly cares what all his customers think. He is dedicated to giving people a good experience, which if we are honest, is what we want when we pay for food out.
The good customer service pays off too. The cafe has been open just six days and it is thronging with customers. Happy and satisfied customers.