It was a business meeting at a coffee shop. The limited number of seats available were occupied, as it is still running in partial capacity because of the pandemic. I waited around for space, but also for my guest to arrive. When a seat opened up, I took it.
My guest arrived shortly afterwards and I asked what she would like. “Just water”, she said. I did not want anything at the time either, so I just ordered a small coffee. I was mindful of taking up space and not giving them a lot of money, but it was the current situation and I’m pretty sure that coffee shops are designed for people to talk and do business?
The barista, who I think is also the owner, took my coffee order and then asked very suggestively if I also wanted food. It was clear that he was showing his disapproval of my order. I said “no, not right now thank you.” And got out my credit card to pay. Under his breath he said something sarcastically suggesting that I should at least pay with cash. It was not necessarily meant for me to hear, but definitely was not silence either.
I did tip very well and and the place was practically empty when we left. I’m not actually sure that we took anyone else’s spot. I had not planned to be cheap. I would have happily bought lunch and drinks for my guest. But sometimes we just don’t plan and things just happen.
However, reflecting on this afterwards, I realize that I have no interest in going back there after this experience. Maybe he was just having a bad day? It has been one heck of a year for coffee shops and other restaurants. And yeah, it demonstrates how a small action when you’re not at your best can hurt your business.