Now it is important to know that I was charming and pleasant, I guarantee that. And I must emphasize that the staff at the Farmer’s Market by Laguna Culinary Arts (link to Yelp) were fine, and as helpful as they could be.
I was on the 5.30pm flight from John Wayne Airport headed back to Seattle, the plethora of Micky-mouse-eared kids made it clear that I was near Disneyland and that it was Spring break. After stopping at Vino Volo for a glass of Oregon Chardonnay I was hungry. Defying logic I thought I would head to Ruby Tuesdays, my first mistake because Vino Volo has good food, what was I thinking. Then I spotted the Farmer’s Market, it was run by a culinary arts school, looked promising. The display was stacked with sandwiches and panini much like you would find in Paris, even Croque-monsieur sandwiches loaded with cheese. They had splits of wine and wine glasses, I was sold.
Careful analysis, including price to value ratios, led me to order the ham and cheese, which he assured me could be heated like a panini. As I moved to the check-out to order a wine to go with it I noticed that he was placing my sandwich in an oven not a panini press, hmmm. It was my first alert that things were not working as they should. When I asked the nice lady if it could be heated in a panini press she said it was not working. I hesitated, and almost said I did not want the sandwich as I was anticipating hot squished bread, but decided to let it go.
I asked about the chardonnay, only to find that they sell small bottles of the wine, but they have no glasses for the wine. Not that they were out of glasses, they don’t ever have glasses. I asked how people drink it, she said “out of the bottle.” Yes, I did express my surprise, but like I said, I remained charming and pleasant as I made some comment about a brown paper bag, but with a smile on my face, she even smiled. I passed on the wine.
The sandwich came in a clear plastic take-away container, the ambience of enjoying a good sandwich with a glass of wine vaporized. I walked out to the main area of the terminal, found a chair and sat down to eat the lukewarm meal, the cheese was not even melted.
Finishing that I went back to Vino Volo and admitted that I should have stayed there and had their basil chicken sandwich. I ended up talking with a guy from England, and to a lady who did quality control for a cryogenic freight company, both delightful.
As I write this I am seated in an exit row on an Alaska Airlines flight, the flight attendants are wonderful as they usually are, the flight is on time, what a contrast to Farmer’s Market. Lots of airlines fly planes, and offer food beverage, yet Alaska still tries to do some of the little things. Their food is a notch above what the others offer, (their hot sandwiches are actually hot) and us MVP Gold’s get special treatment. They attempt to offer as much as possible within the constraints of a competitive airline market.
The best employee, inhibited by poor products or service offerings, struggles to maintain customer satisfaction. Farmers Market needs to learn this, after all it appears that they are training the next round of chefs; ambience and attention to detail are as important as making the perfect sauce, I hope they learn that along the way. As for me, next time I am in John Wayne airport I will stick with Vino Volo.