Five Poolside, Portishead

Business Type:

Cafe

Ambience:

Short-term lease, and therefore kept previous decor, which is fine. Relaxed atmosphere, huge windows with view of the sea from pretty much anywhere in the cafe. Sister cafe to 5 The Beach in Clevedon. Light and airy, but still cosy. Plenty of parking right outside.

Goods:

Generally a good selection of completely made-from-scratch meals, however as the end of the lease is coming up, several things were sold out. Excellent breakfast menu, and also a large blackboard with main meals, filled baguettes and lighter meals – all fresh, a good choice for vegetarians, and shows a real love for food and flair for cooking. Seriously superior puddings and desserts also – small range, but always something right up your street, although can be on the pricey side (which in most cases can be forgiven as the ingredients are high quality and fresh).

Customer service:

You would expect from the cafe at Clevedon that the emphasis on customer service would have been carried over, but today, unfortunately there wasn’t much of that in evidence. After waiting around a little while like spare parts, having one person walk past us several times to clear a table, another member of staff breezily informed us ‘Sorry we’ve stopped serving breakfasts’. Just that, nothing else. And this was before they start serving lunch, so what they are doing in the time they refer to as between ’11ish and 12′, I have no idea. Suggestions were not forthcoming either. It was clear that as the end of the lease is in sight, they can’t really be bothered with the inconvenience of customers. Although I’d like to make clear that the proprietor wasn’t there, we were only ‘dealt with’ or rather not dealt with by young employed staff who clearly would rather have been doing something else. This was a bit of a surprise as the staff at the Clevedon cafe are of all ages, and all are keen on providing a good service.

What we had:

Walked out with nothing. Hugely disappointing, reluctant to go back.

How it could be better:

  • Get rid of that ‘end of term’ feeling. The staff were clearly marking time when they should have been making customers welcome.
  • Don’t focus on what you don’t have. Customers want to be tempted by what you do have. OK, there’s no delicious muesli and Greek yogurt, but what can you offer instead?
  • Never ever walk past people who are offering to give you their cash.
  • The lease on this premises has been for about 6 months, but it’s never seemed anything other than temporary; daytime only opening is no good for people who work all week and want somewhere lovely to go in the evenings for good atmosphere, good food and drink and an all round good time. Could have tapped into the desires of Portishead here, but didn’t.
  • Also, the fact that cash is the only method of payment means you kind of have to go out of your way to have money available in an acceptable form before you start picking what you want. All in all, there’s a flavour of the customers bending over backwards to keep the cafe staff happy, when it should really be the other way round.

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