We had a look for a café in Exeter near the Cathedral; I have lived locally for two years and have been trying all types of cafés. We went into Drakes on Catherine Street Exeter.
The party I was with included my sister, who is in her twenties, my first son who is two nearly three and a one year old; I myself am in my thirties.
My sister had just had a long journey on the train and she was looking forward to a catch up with her nephews who she hadn’t seen since December and I really needed to feed the children. My eldest son had been asking for a cheese sandwich since we had parked earlier.
We saw the menu outside and were happy to have a sit down and a catch up over lunch and they did cheese sandwiches.
We walked down a narrow alley with the pushchair and entered a rather small café. A lovely gentleman was very accommodating and said that there would be a wait. There were approximately thirty four seats over two levels, it was very cramped but rather then reversing and having to explain to a two year old that we will have to find somewhere else to eat, we waited.
We noticed that a sign stated that they do not accept card or cheques so my sister asked where the closest cash point was and the gentleman gave some good directions.
The youngest I unclipped from the pushchair and an elderly couple commented on how lovely he was my eldest always gets a little jealous and cuddled his brother which made him whinge. I told my eldest to leave him alone. The elderly couple just smiled as the youngest was giving out beautiful smiles again within seconds.
I felt an awkward feeling at this stage as the lady behind the counter could have killed with the look she gave me. A table became free and the young gentleman asked if I would like a high chair, I said yes and he said he would get me one in a moment.
I asked the lady if I could leave my pushchair tucked up against the counter as there was no room near our table or anywhere else. I was told that I would have to put it outside. I obliged even though I was a little put off with putting all of our belongings that were on the pushchair outside. I wheeled it out and the gentleman who had asked me if I wanted a high chair stated that he would sort it out as it was an entrance with a toilet and two high chairs I was a little worried about blocking exits etc.
The high chair was broken and the clip that goes in between the childs legs was broken, I could not clip my one year old in securely but I said nothing, instead holding onto him throughout the meal.
The gentleman took our order which was one cheese sandwich, no garnish, crisps etc, and just two slices of bread with some cheese in, a toasted tea cake, a tuna baguette, and two blackcurrants with straws, a coke and a pot of tea for one.
A lady brought out the toasted tea cake and nothing else. I am unsure on everyone else but I usually like to eat together and again I was going to give the children the cheese sandwich and then the tea cake. I sent the tea cake back and asked if it could wait until all of the food was ready as I would prefer that. It all came out the cheese sandwich still managed to have a slice of orange on it and a parsley stalk, I picked these off. The children got stuck into their grated cheese sandwich; I had a tuna baguette with six Pringles and a little garnish. The pot of tea was on a tray for one which was passed to me over my one year olds head. I do panic when the tables are so squashed together that the waiting g staff cannot comfortably move around the tables without going over people’s heads. Especially young children, whose heads are very delicate.
The children had made a mess with the cheese but as I am so use to this I usually clear up after they have finished as they seem to make even more mess. We had finished but I was just finishing my tea, my sister was playing with the children and she was playing the high five game. The game in which you say high five, to the side, up above down below your too slow. My eldest son shrieked with laughter in which I smiled but said “ shhhh” my sister and the toddler did it again I scolded him and said right no more now.
The lady who I assume was the manager came to me and politely asked if I could keep my son quiet as there are other diners who are trying to eat peacefully. I was in slight shock, both my children are young they did not once move from their seats to run around and they did not cry or have a tantrum, yes the eldest shrieked twice in which I was talking to him about. I was mystified and embarrassed as this is a very small café and it is very obvious that people could hear. I said that it had only happened twice and I was in the middle of talking to him about it, she then said it had been four times and that there are other children in the café that are being better behaved, as she directed me to a lady and young girl who was approximately seven. I stated that my son was only two and asked how she suggests I keep him quiet. She walked off behind the counter and again I was so shocked I decided that I did not want to finish my tea, I wanted to get out of the café as soon as possible. I said to my sister come on lets go I’m not sitting here to be insulted by the fact that my son was being good and had been asked to tone it down. Two ladies who were sitting above us on the raised level stated they wouldn’t bring their grandchild here then!
I walked to my pushchair which was in the entrance and began to put my one year old in the pushchair, the lady chased me out and said that’s £17.00 something, I told her I was not paying after the service I had received and that by no means was my son being naughty or overly loud in which I was ignoring. This was an attempt to get us out of the café as soon as possible to accommodate waiting clients. The lady then said I only asked you politely to keep him quiet, I then stated that I was unaware of how you expect me to keep a two year old silent. I was again still very shocked. I went back into the café and asked if any of the clients that were in the café were affected by my son’s behaviour. They all sat there in silence, apart from the lady with the seven year old who said no but the way you have reacted to the polite question in hand has made it unacceptable. The manager then said and that’s £17.00 I stated in front of the whole café I would not be paying after the service I had received in which I was told I am a thief I have had the food why not pay. I said that I was not prepared to pay y for what I deemed an inappropriate service, I walked out. The manager followed me and said well you have got your free meal that was all you wanted, I said how dare you, it was obvious from the start that they did not want us in the café. My sister who had been reasonably quiet at this stage was then not overly happy about the comment of not able to afford something, was then very rude. My sister told her the food was F%$^%^g over priced and how dare she insinuate that we could not pay. The lady walked into the café stating we were not welcome again, in which I said do you think we would come back?
We walked through the alley and I stopped to put the children’s coats on properly. The lady manager came all the way through the alley holding a piece of paper, as I had just said to my sister please take a photo of the entrance for the name of the place as I would like to report this, the lady said would you like me to get the other lady to give her feelings of the theft you have just committed, I asked, is she your friend or sister as they no doubt had a repertoire? No comment on this was passed I was just told that my son was the worst child they had ever had in the café, my sister just replied that she obviously doesn’t like children in which she said I love kids actually and next time I want a free meal why not go to MacDonald’s, I was so insulted, my sister who hates MacDonald’s again shouted abuse on the lines of it looks like you ate all of the MacDonald’s already as she walked back into her alley.
A big issue worker had stopped to watch the commotion and after the lady had gone back in said don’t worry about her “I used the toilet once and she chased me down the street shouting abuse”
This cafe seems to be very judgmental and if your face doesn’t fit. I was always taught to never judge a book by its cover. If you don’t want children who are learning how to behave in your café with parents who find it hard enough to be out with two children in this type of environment then have a sign. I would much prefer to be told please don’t come in we are not family friendly to being told my child is being too loud for their café.
My sister and I both have the money to pay for the food, but the service was unacceptable and the rudeness was beyond customer satisfaction. I am a mother to two children; I work in catering and hospitality part time, whilst my husband is at work full time as a civil servant supporting us as a family. My money should be as good as anyone’s and I totally understand if the children were crying constantly and running around and being unruly but this was not the case.
There were other things that had not been mentioned at the time which I have now put into writing, the high chair, the exit being blocked, the tea going over a child’s head, the tea cake coming to the table before all of the food was ready a table next to us having the wrong type of bread with the filling served.
My two year old in his head doesn’t understand what he has done wrong, how are we as parents supposed to teach our children about public conduct when you have to be silenced. I want my children to be confident and not old fashioned where children should be seen and not heard, times have changed. Hence we use a kettle instead of boiling water on a stove.
If I didn’t care why would I spend my time writing this, I am a busy mother I have plenty of other things to be doing then writing about my awful experiences but I feel we have been hung drawn and quartered and I would like to share my experience as a mother and a customer that does have money to spend but chooses not to after being insulted publically.
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