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Patisserie Lila and their 'minimum charge'

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Saturday 10 December 2005 9.31pm
This morning my flatmate and I passed by Patisserie Lila on Bedale Street after shopping in Borough Market. It looked like a really inviting little cafe, so we thought we'd go in and have some tea and coffee.

We sat down and a waitress came to take our order. He ordered a cappuccino and a pain au chocolat. I just ordered a cup of tea. The waitress, who was rather sour-faced throughout, asked if I was having anything from the patisserie. I said no, just the tea please.

She pointed to some blurb on the menu that stated there was a 3.50 minimum charge, and which also stated that all hot drinks orders *must* be accompanied by something from the patisserie.

When I pointed out that my flatmate had ordered something from the patisserie, and that the total order exceeded 3.50, she said that the minimum charge was per person. I said, "fine, I won't have anything - I'll just sit here and wait for my friend to have his coffee and pastry." The waitress said if I was sitting in the patisserie, I had to order.

Furious, we decided to cancel and just walked out.

I've been to thousands of cafes all over the world and never been *told* what I have to order, or indeed that I have to at all if accompanying someone else who is. Am I being unreasonable for feeling a bit hacked off with this place for having such an unwelcoming policy, or is the policy justified?
Sunday 11 December 2005 8.57am
You are absolutely NOT being unreasonable, and the people who run this place are just up their own, taking advantage of the fact that Borough Market is now full of poncy people on opening days and they can fleece them. Good that you tell us, we shall avoid the place.
Sunday 11 December 2005 9.13am
Outrageous. It's so wrong-headed. I'm really beginning to despair about new food/drink businesses around here.

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 11 December 2005 9.13am by Samuel.
Sunday 11 December 2005 10.31am
Bel et al - imagine the scene if that happened to me. The Speedo's would have been in a real twist.
Sunday 11 December 2005 11.49am
Let's tell them to look at this site and see how they've shot themselves in the foot.
Sunday 11 December 2005 11.55am
jackie rokotnitz Wrote:
> Let's tell them to look at this site and see how
> they've shot themselves in the foot.

Hmmm, I'm not sure they'd give a toss. I bet we're not the first to have stormed out. If challenged, they would surely come up with some explanation that alluded to the exhorbitant rates they're probably paying.

Sadly, they can probably get away with it - the cafe was full apart from the one table we swooped upon. The patisserie offer looks very good indeed and most people going in will probably buy something from it anyway, without noticing the edict that it's compulsory.

Also, as Jackie implies, they definitely benefit from their location directly adjacent to Borough Market, which gets ever more touristy..
Sunday 11 December 2005 2.44pm
What a pity. Lila used to run her flower shop from the premises and offered an above average product, with above average prices. The cafe is pitched at the same level and I've heard the cakes are lovely, but I think I'll stick to Monmouths [great coffee and pastries], despite the relative lack of room and comfort, particularly at this time of year.
Sunday 11 December 2005 4.11pm
"I bet we're not the first to have stormed out", said Bel - well there are one or two people contributing to the Sainsbury's Thread who disapprove of such self-centred behaviour! Me, I'm all for voting with my feet & wallet - Monmouth gets my vote.
Sunday 11 December 2005 11.16pm
Well done you, Bel Ludovic! Good reason not to go there- I am puzzled that anyone in what they call the "Hospitality Industry" could have such policies.
Monday 12 December 2005 11.23am
Personally I cant see the problem with this. Has visiting Patisserie Lila become compulsory with the Market Police carrying out dawn, ok, brunch-raids and frog-marching people down the road in their dressing gowns?

As someone who has previously worked in the hospitality industry and is also a regular customer to cafes I have nothing but sympathy for establishments that get swamped by customers confusing a cafe with a park bench.

Given the choice between staying in business or not I'd probably do the same and appreciate that some people would go elsewhere. I'd whish them well and respect their decision and hope they respected mine. I'd also hope that others would still come because they appreciate the charge was through necessity because I cannot compete with the extra buying power of the multi-nationals.

[For the record, whilst I have no connection with Patisserie Lila I once went to a flower-arranging class run by Lila at Bermondsey village hall. It was very enjoyable and I doubt that Starbucks will run one if she is driven out of the area. I do not have any connection with free-loading, tree-huggers]
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