Most Cedele outlets are fairly small, based on experience of the ones that I generally frequent. Probably because they are bakery-cafes and as such it doesn’t make economic sense to run a large outlet because it’s costly. They aren’t big like the chain cafes around that can afford to have large premises to accommodate crowds especially those who tend to linger for a longer period of time. The only bigger Cedeles that I have visited are the all-day dining restaurants at Wheelock and Great World City and even then, they are not considered that big. But Cedele is one of my favourite bakery cafes, not because I think they serve great coffee (which again I reiterate I am not particular with coffee, or translate that to: “I don’t have very high standards where coffee is concerned”) but because I am such a big lover of bread, sandwiches and pastries.
I had chanced upon one of their outlets at Millenia Walk sometime ago because church service was in the vicinity then, and on Sunday evenings, the crowd in that area tends to be thin, so it was not difficult to get a seat despite that space is really limited in the cafe. Last weekend I thought I’d go there again after an appointment in the area, and although I was tempted to check out some other cafes that are in the same building, my craving for a nice sandwich drew me to Cedele. I should have already guessed as much when I looked around the cafe (empty at that time except for one group of patrons) and saw the tables in disarray and not cleaned; there were leftovers of cake on the table from patrons before, and water spilled on table tops were not wiped up.
After checking out the menu and seeing some of the available sets, I thought it would be good to order a half-sandwich set (that comes with coffee) so that I could have an additional order of a pastry or the likes. I didn’t really read the promotional words carefully so I asked the cashier, who told me, with an exaggerated look of disappointment on her face, that the set I asked about was only available in the mornings for breakfast (as are most of the other sets, by the way). She stopped there, without offering suggestions or basically to ask what I would like to have but instead stood behind the cash register with the same look on her face.
Decided to just go for my usual order of sandwich and coffee, and used the Cedele card that I had with me. I couldn’t really recall how the card works, but it’s a card that I paid S$25 for and came with a certain value (points) that I used back then to pay for my purchases. I kind of thought it worked like a store-value card where when I top it up, I get some additional bonus points or if I used it for payment I’d get a discount. Apparently not. It’s just a card where you earn rebate points on when you make purchases and present the card, and the rebate points can be used to redeem against your order in future. This was what the cashier explained to me, in a somewhat impatient and annoyed manner. At that point, I think I was feeling really hungry so I too got kind of annoyed.
After making payment, I was given an electronic disc that would need me to go back to the counter to collect my items when they are ready. It’s so weird that when the cafe was empty, they’d still bother with it, why not just go for the better customer experience and deliver the order? The cafe is not that big after all and I chose a seat that was just a few steps away from the counter. So my coffee was ready and I went to pick it up, without being given any serviette or teaspoon, and check this out:
Was the cup not properly cleaned, or did they pour the coffee onto the handle and forgot to wipe it off? I got some napkins from them and tried to wipe the handle but the stains seemed to have been there for a while so it couldn’t have been the latter. As much as the other Cedeles I have been to thus far hadn’t really delivered in terms of customer experience, I think this was probably one of the worst, because of the dirty cup and the uncleaned tables. Of course, I’m still the sucker and whiner because I didn’t ask them to change a cup for me or something, probably also because I thought it wouldn’t make things better or make any difference.
At least when my sandwich was ready they decided to bring it to me, and the food was still good. I love their sandwiches and the breads used in them, so I always return despite that customer experience is zilch.
Despite this, I would still commend them on one thing though, while I was munching on my sandwich, one of the waitresses actually brought me a cup of water, without me asking for it! The cup seemed to be leaking though because as it was set on the table, a pool of water started forming under it after a few minutes. Yet with that simple gesture and the great sandwich I had ingested in my stomach, they have still managed to keep me as a customer, and yes I will give them another chance in future.