Making Baltzersens the best cafe in Harrogate: What We Can Do Better?
Over 300 of you responded to our request for feedback and following on from the ten things you like about Baltzersen’s we wanted to address the 10 most popular things that could improve your experience, because we want Baltzersens to be the best cafe in Harrogate.
By a country mile the most requested improvement you voiced was for more tables, because as the cafe has become more popular it is more difficult to get seated immediately. Let us say we’re with you on this. There is nothing more frustrating than having to be the person that has to explain to guests that there is a wait and seeing some of you head off elsewhere.
Unfortunately we can’t say that we’re going to have a solution for this any time soon. Even if we could take on more space for tables we’d have a problem with capacity behind the counter and in the kitchen. The last thing we’d want to do is have an extra 10 tables and then see wait times on food/drinks increase as a result.
Clearing and Cleaning Tables
We’d agree that walking into a venue and seeing tables that haven’t been cleared or haven’t been wiped properly is really off putting. It puts a question in your mind about the operation straight away.
We’re going to reiterate to our team the importance of getting this task completed as soon as possible. We hope it’ll mean that we clear dishes from your table whilst you are still sat at it, which is preferable as well.
We knew the ordering system would come up in a number of ways – it’s essentially the bane of our lives.
Whilst it might be preferable for some table service just isn’t a viable option. It could potentially work on a weekend when we have lots of staff on shift, but during the week we just don’t have enough people (and the business couldn’t support more) to make it work. We know this because we tried it for a day once, and it was an unmitigated disaster.
We’re going to do a couple of things to try and make our lives and yours a bit easier.
We’re bringing back a modified version of the hanging sign that sits in the entranceway opposite the counter. We hope guests will notice it and have a better idea of what to do when they enter the building.
We’re going to have some signs that guests visiting on their own can take from the area near the counter and use to claim a table before going back to the counter and make their order. It’ll mean no-one has to leave bags/coats on tables to do this job.
We’re looking at installing a second till system. This till would be located at the station next to the stairs. It would provide an overflow till at busy times that we’d be able to invite guests to approach. We’d also use it to take orders from guests that have been sat at a table by colleagues during busy times in addition to follow on orders for coffees/cakes once guests have finished their savoury food.
In partnership with our landlord and neighbours ‘The Champagne Concept’ we are looking at this issue and hope that we may have a solution in place early in the new year.
More Specials/ Faster menu changes
We’re interested to hear from some of our more regular guests that some specials and a more frequently change menu would be appreciated.
In terms of specials we’re just working on a new crispbread option to add to the menu that will change regularly.
Be less expensive
We aren’t afraid to say that we’re one of the more expensive cafes in Harrogate. Why is that?
We’re one of the only cafes that actually makes pretty much everything we sell. Virtually nothing you eat with us is bought in and just sold on as it is, with the exception of our bread from Bondgate Bakery in Otley.
We use organic milk in our coffee – we’ve done this from day 1 because we like getting our milk direct from a source we trust, who also happen to be one of the best organic farms in the country.
We use loads of other local suppliers, who often charge a little bit more but the quality and service is worth it.
We pay our team reasonably. When you see the younger members of the team working at the weekend we aren’t taking advantage of their age by discriminating against them. Every member of the team is paid a minimum of the National Living Wage for 25 year olds – currently £7.50 per hour.
We endeavour to train our team so they can do a better job. Whether that is in-house training or external accredited training for our baristas such as the Specialty Coffee Association of Europe (SCAE) coffee courses delivered by North Star in Leeds.
We do know that not everyone can afford to visit so we offer our waffles at half-price from 3pm during the week. We’re going to take a look at what other schemes we could put in place to allow people to access Baltzersens at a slightly cheaper rate.
Oh, and we nearly forgot the Baltzersens Reward card. Whatever prices you see on the menu you can claim points for at 10% for hot drinks and 5% for food. If you haven’t signed up yet you’re leaving money on the table.
More choice for Veggies/Vegans
We have become more conscious of the growing demand for vegetarian and vegan dishes and we feel like we’ve already put in a bit of work already on this, but you want more.
There is a limit to how big our menu can be in terms of making sure everything we offer is fresh and at it’s best. We are however looking into what else we can do to tweak dishes to offer more options.
You can expect to see our pyttipanne go vegan shortly with the mushrooms as an added ingredient. We considered vegan sausages be weren’t sure how popular this would be (or how tasty they are?).
Soup has recently come back on our menu and we’ve decided to keep it vegan.
More comfortable chairs
We’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years on cafe furniture, wasting hundreds if not thousands of pounds in the process.
Chairs at Baltzersen’s take an almighty hammering on a daily basis. The key drivers for making decisions on chairs have to be:
2. Easy to clean
We feel like we have the first three nailed at the moment but you’re telling us that we need to pay a little more attention to number four. We can accept that and we’ll bear it in mind when we’re looking to make changes in the future. Inevitably anything that involves upholstery is way more expensive so that is another element to factor into the mix.
I was at another restaurant recently that have modified the chairs that we use to include seat and back pads so we’ll investigate the cost involved with this.
Acoustics in hospitality design are mentioned more and more often, especially as the prevailing fashion over the last five years has been for stripped back, industrial styling with lots of hard surfaces. When you start to examine why that design scheme has been so popular you can take a look at the previous answer about the chairs and see that it fits the primary drivers of business owners very nicely.
When we were recently remodelling Norse we took this into consideration by installing some artwork specially designed acoustic dampening panels made from recycled plastic.
The cost of installing these panels in Baltzersen’s would run to somewhere in the region of about £2,000 – we can certainly add it to the list!
Make brunch available later
There are a few challenges to offering brunch later or all day – it’s most around equipment and our ability to hold certain elements (hollandaise) at the correct temperature.
I’m discussing with the chefs if we can move pyttipanne and toast onto the all day menu, because that’d certainly add some extra breadth to the menu.
As a thank you for filling out our survey we have given away over £500 of vouchers to our guests, here is the list of winners:
|Ben Mortimer||Alison Walker|
|Elisa Belluati||Sarah Hulbert|
|Amber Gilliam||Jennie Gronevik|
|David Smalley||Chloe Firth|
|Heather Mills||Michael Recachinas|
|Tess Sharman||Jen Berry|
|Mary Watson||Roisin Black|
|Nat Jones||Tracey McKenna|
|Martin Burke||Tracey Dawson|
|Caroline Brown||Tori Yardley|
|Dan Cartwright||Karen Thornton|