Searching for brunch one early afternoon in Yorkshire, D and I stumbled across a tearoom that advertised out front that they were serving bacon sandwiches, tea and the mornings papers for £4. D had bacon eyes that day so it seemed perfect. I always love a good tearoom.
Climbing two flights of stairs above an empty (of customers) shop we found ourselves in the smallest of small Tearooms that only had 5 tables which could seat 14 people at a time (at a squeeze).
Luckily there was an empty table by the window and we gladly sat down and moved the last persons empties to the side. The sun was shining through the window, fresh flowers were on the table, 40s music was playing and bacon was on the menu. Hopes were high.
Things started to seem 'off' when we weren't attended to or even acknowledged after being sat at a dirty table for 10 minutes. Another table had vacated and an older couple had sat down. D got up to ask one of the two girls behind the counter if breakfast was still being served, she replied yes and we continued to wait. Other tables were being handed their food and finally a waitress appeared apologising for our wait and saying that she would take our order shortly.
Shortly was five minutes later when she went to the older couple who had arrived after us to take their order! Thankfully the gentleman on the table politely told her that we had arrived before them.
The waitress came over to us and D ordered his bacon sandwich only to be told they had run out of bacon. He had that face that makes my heart break. The waitress said she could run out and get some more but it would be a bit of a wait. He said it didn't matter and ordered some poached eggs on toast with a tea instead. I decided to order a cream tea with a toasted teacake.
We sat waiting for what seemed like an age with no drinks. My toasted teacake was brought out and I still had no tea. I offered to share some with D as he looked like he was about to waste away. The side of butter provided only covered half of the teacake portion, I would have asked for more but to get anyone's attention was near impossible.
Next arrived my scone and finally my pot of tea, still no sign of a tea for D or any eggs. I felt bad eating away whilst he sat there with nothing. It soon became apparent why D had no eggs, when I started eating the second half of my scone his eggs turned up... Fried. I think they might have struggled to make poached eggs and decided to fry them instead. We asked about his tea and the waitress remarked that he hadn't ordered one.
D set about tackling his fried eggs on toast whilst he waited for his tea, some of the egg was raw in places and he attempted a bite before giving up on them altogether.
I watched the mayhem unfold around me, no soup was left and she couldn't remember what the back up soup was. The older gentleman beside us ordered a ploughman's lunch and was disappointed to find that his pork pie was missing... He had to ask for it several times and I began to worry at one point that they had run out and not realised but it turns out they just couldn't find them in the fridge. When she brought his pork pie out to him he said that his pickles seemed to have gone missing too... Thus prompting another frantic search and lots of apologies. They were then told that their drinks wouldn't be charged for.
A couple of young women came in at one point with their baby and seeing the mayhem told the girls behind the counter not to bother and left.
A family who were ordering one of everything off the menu, or so it seemed, left and paid. As they were waiting for their bill to take downstairs (to pay the man in the shop) the mother of the group chatted to the young girl who was running around. She was giving her tips, telling her not to worry, and that they had a lovely time despite everything. I could hear the girl replying that there was usually three of them and she had only been there a month, I also heard her say 'we usually have an adult here'. These girls looked barely 16/17, they had been left to run a tearoom on their own whilst the guy below manned the shop and took the payments. He never said a word when we walked in that they were short of staff so there might be a wait or even indicate at the mayhem above. These two girls were obviously trying their best to handle the situation but it was crashing down around them. They lacked experience and clearly cooking skills past toasting a tea cake and slicing up a scone. It was very unfair that they were left to run this tearoom alone.
At best they should have closed for the day, or asked one of the girls to man the desk downstairs whilst the 'adult' helped with the running of the tearoom upstairs.
I really felt for them in the end, had we known what was about to befall us we would have left sooner and eased the stress on them a little too. I had to approach the egg situation as there was no way we were paying for them, she was really apologetic and I tried to say it was okay, although it really wasn't, but I can't really place the blame on her (or the other girl slaving away in their tiny little prep area). Which is why I'm not naming and shaming the tearoom. I wouldn't ever want these girl's jobs to be at risk, if they haven't quit already.
I sincerely hope that if you are a business owner and reading this you would never dream of doing this to your younger or inexperienced staff. By keeping the tearoom open in the vain hope of not losing money you've instead lost unpaid for stock, and customers who will probably never return again, or even stuck around to buy anything in your shop.