- Posted by Paul Gowder on April 13th, 2009 filed in consumer rage, doom, gonzo blogging and other redundancies, humor, scene, stupidity, total frivolity
- 70 Comments »
(If one must break one’s own no-images rule, one ought to break it big.)
Yesterday, a friend dragged me to a place called Sufi Coffee Shop in Mountain View (El Camino just north of Castro). The coffee was actually quite good — it had better be quite good, the cheapest cup of drip — of drip was $3.50. (The most expensive was $6.75. Admittedly, it was Blue Mountain.)
But the attitude. Wow, the attitude. The place is covered from wall-to-wall with angry signs admonishing the customers for various sorts of misbehavior. I took a photo of the first one, and the owner turned around, sternly instructed me “no photos!,” and then demanded, as an implicit condition of selling me any coffee, that I delete the one I had taken.
Fortunately, the owner isn’t terribly iphone-literate, and so, well, suffice it to say that not only did I not delete the first photo, but I took numerous more besides. Investigative Journalism, thy name is Paul Gowder. And now, I share my ill-gotten photographic gains with you, so you can learn what not to do when you run a small business.
The first sign was fairly benign — it was merely an admonition to not leaf through the books (on Sufism, naturally) without buying. Ok, fine. I’ve seen this at other coffeeshops that sell books. Except this sign added a nice dose of snottiness that’s usually not present:
The bottom says “Sufism needs not to be promoted.” And this apparently is the case, since the desire to learn about the owner’s religion is met with, according to this sign, a stern instruction to take it to google and shut the fuck up.
But that is by far the least obnoxious sign.
So, another virtue of this coffeeshop is that it is very pretty. There’s a lovely little covered balcony out back, with couches, and it’s was pretty empty when I was there (for obvious reasons, I’d suspect that to be its usual condition, considering the prices, the owner’s attitude, the terrible location, and the signs). It’s… almost… kinda… romantic. I could see bringing a date here. This, it would appear, is not approved:
There are at least five of these signs around the place, including one — not the only sign — defacing a piece of (admittedly terrible) artwork on the walls:
“But,” perhaps the owner would say in its defense, “we’re a small business! We’re allowed to be quirky!” Well, it’s pretty quirky to demand that your customers justify their presence:
That’s a little blurry. Here’s a transcription:
We are not a corporate entity. Please try to walk in our Moccasins and justify your being here and be fair.
Somehow, I doubt they have too much of a problem with people sitting around and not buying anything. The place reeks of so much hostility to the customers that one might be afraid that being around for longer than 20 minutes will send the owner after you with a hatchet. But, just to drive the message home:
Do they really think anyone enjoys the ambiance of the place? Really? Who enjoys the ambiance of being constantly ordered to justify their presence? The ambiance here is the same as the ambiance in The Castle; the customer is K.
Surely, you might think, if they don’t want customers sitting around forever (or, it would seem, at all), they wouldn’t offer wifi. But they do:
Note how the deranged ever-increasing price scale for the wifi is on the back of a statue of the Buddha. I guess it doesn’t count as sacrilege to put an insane greedfest on the Buddha, since the place is run by a Sufi — but then one has to wonder what a statue of the Buddha is actually doing there.
But the real fun starts when you go into the bathroom. For surely, one might think, the owner’s insanity does not extend into the bathroom. Hehehe.
It starts off fairly mildly:
Ok, fine, perhaps someone was just really gripped by Peter Singer. That’s cool. That’s cool.*
But then things go downhill swiftly:
You really need to be able to make out the fine print in this one. Sadly, I didn’t get a very good photo, possibly because I was too horrified to get up close. But here’s what said fine print says:
Please refrain from going to big toilet. Thank you.
Now, here, the more innocent or optimistic of my readers may be thinking it can’t possibly mean THAT… can it?
Yes. Yes it can:
Sufi Coffee Shop: drink good coffee, then die of catastrophic systemic excretory failure.
Never go here.
Edit: I just wrote a nasty review on Yelp. It’s not quite as nasty as my review of another of Mountain View’s institutions, the “Zen Lounge,” (easily the worst club in the world), but it’s up there. My most popular yelp review, however, involved logarithms.
* Easter joy note: my freshmen in intro to political philosophy a year and a half ago fell in love with me when, in section, I gave them the case of a life well-spent repeatedly pushing a button that would give an orgasm to every bunny in the world as a counterexample to hedonistic utilitarianism. Sorry X.Trapnel, Richard, et. al.