Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Coffee Shop Chronicles - Special Weekend Edition

The explorer in me is always seeking out new experiences. As much as I love my Coffee Shop it is good to get out and see what else is out there. This is a study in contrasts between my beloved Coffee Shop and a Panera Bread in a shopping mall.

My mission for the day was to travel to the big shopping mall that is about 45 minutes from our house. My main objective was the men's clothing store where we purchased three pairs of pants for Glen back in November. One pair needed a small repair on an inside seam and I brought the other two along to get pressed. The gentleman that helped me at the store asked me if I had any errands to do, he would have everything repaired and pressed within the hour. Awesome!

I had been planning to look at the mall for some throw pillows for the new couch anyway. After looking around at a few stores and coming away empty handed, I was starting to get a little hungry.


The mall has a Panera Bread and I thought it might be a good experiment to go there for a snack and do a little writing. After a quick stop at Barnes and Noble to purchase a small journal that I could keep in my bag, I entered the Panera Bread at quarter to eleven.

The young Order Takers behind the counter could learn a few lessons from The Order Taker. Mainly they could work on cheerfulness and presentation of the food. There was no "Would you like that warmed with butter?" today.


I ordered a Chai Tea Latte and a Wild Blueberry Scone. I do love a good scone and I am partial to Panera's Chai Lattes. But after my weeks at The Coffee Shop, I felt a bit short changed here. I paid more for my Chai and I got less. Although the Drink Maker didn't seem all that confident in what she was doing. She kept scratching her head through her hat. Probably not a good sign.

I really love that my Coffee Shop brings me my muffin and Chai. No standing around waiting, feeling awkwardly out of place.

Once loaded up with my scone, my Chai and my bag, I looked around for good place to sit. I chose a table in the corner, closest to the register, yet looking out over the whole dining area.

Part of the reason I chose this table as well, was at the table next to me were two couples in their 70's. Seating arrangement at this table was, both guys on one side and both ladies on the other.

I got the impression that they were planning a trip together since the guys were huddled around a laptop  looking at maps and making plans. The trip seemed to be focused northward towards the Upper Peninsula and Canada.


As I started listening in, the gentleman with the laptop was talking about traveling this route during some nasty weather one winter. The worst area being where I-75 and 127 merged together. This made my heart catch because that is the exact area where my daughter, Mallory had a serious accident two years ago. I can still close my eyes and see it unfold behind me. If you have a tissue handy you can read that story here. I still consider this one of my best pieces of writing. Yep, it still gets me. Not sure why I joined their conversation right at that point.

Moving on…

The Laptop Guy was very tech savvy for a guy in his 70's. He was alternating between his laptop and his iPad Mini, while the table also contained the mouse for his laptop and a Mobile Hotspot Jet Pack.

It was approaching time for me to pack up so I turned my attention from The Trip Planners back to the greater whole of the restaurant. Here are a few more observations.

Most of the diners were young. Young moms with strollers, probably taking a break from the salvia and snot coated indoor play land. Young college age girls with no classes to keep them occupied on a Friday. Occasionally a sturdy, silver plated walker would be pushed up to the order counter. A look of puzzlement on the face of the Walker Pusher, so many choices, where to even begin. How about just a cup of black coffee.

With all the activity going on there was also so much noise. The noise from the Mall, the noise of so many conversations swirling about, the cries of the restless in the strollers. I missed the peacefulness of my Coffee Shop.

I felt so much more like just an observer here. Where as at my beloved Coffee Shop, I feel like an observer but I also feel like a part of the story.

23 comments:

  1. Interesting is it the difference between an independent and a chain I wonder ? Looks like the Coffee Shop wins hands down ...

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  2. Interesting. I do love smaller, privately owned places. However, the one thing I enjoy from one chain, Chick fil a, is when I say thank you for something, their employees always say, "My pleasure." What a pleasure that really is to me! So much better than the ever popular, "No problem."

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  3. Scratching her head through her hat - yuck!! I'm ready to head back to your other coffee shop! I want to go where everybody knows your name…

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  4. Great piece Sarah . . . I appreciated and agreed with the comparisons of the mall Panera coffee shop and your usual Friday coffee shop.

    And the piece about black ice, Mallory, totaled car vs very large Dodge truck . . . has me still in goose bumps . . .

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  5. Great comparision but I knew the coffee shop would win out. I can see where you are getting your inspiration in the book.

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  6. Stepping outside your comfort zone. There's a Panera around here, but not in a mall. I don't do malls unless I absolutely can't get "it" somewhere else. My grandmother used to enjoy going people watching. I'm guessing your substitute coffee shop good for that. Could have taken some sneaky shots there too.
    Back to your old standby me thinnks.

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  7. And quite the story about Mallory. I can understand the blessing and curse of seeing it happen. For her though, it was only a blessing. Maybe that's the way to make right with it. My family all drive Subarus. Great cars that keep you going in all situations. Practical I guess. I'm glad you have those photos. An uncomfortable but great reminder. It's so easy to forget.

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  8. Ohhhh my-first-a treat for a weekend edition of the CSC. I know you appreciate your little shop more that ever now. At least you've had a chance to compare. In all honesty-I could not read your post about Mallory after seeing the photos. My biggest fear is my youngest on the road and That happening. I am however, relieved to see that Suburu lives up to its name and that your sweet one is/ was ok.

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  9. Sarah, I love your dry sense of humour! I have to say that when I want to really treat myself I go to an independent place. When I want to grab and go, a chain will do. I love Rebecca's comment about "my pleasure" and "no problem". I hadn't thought about it before but what a difference in the way each makes you feel!

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  10. Add me the list of those who prefer your regular coffee shop :) I could not bring myself to read about your daughter - I have two young adults and one younger teen who will be learning to drive soon...

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  11. as they say in real estate: "location, location, location" It does make a big difference - even when you are merely an observer.

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  12. In the beginning of yourpst when II read they served Chai latte! I was going to stop???the key word is WAS...not anymore
    ! You saved me time & money!...:)JP

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  13. The coffee shop is the total winner in this comparison.

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  14. Unfortunately I don't have a small independent coffee shop near me, but I do have a Panera, and the orange scones are delicious. I love your observations and wish that I had a place similar to yours.

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  15. I was wondering what would happen if you changed coffee shops. I secretly wanted you to stay at the other one. I was curious about the regulars! I'm glad you took the chance to see what it was like elsewhere! I enjoyed this story also. I, too, like quieter places. So, now what will it be, the regular or another adventure. I'm anxious to see where you go next! I read the posts about Mallory. That must have been a heart wrenching few moments till you could get to her! So thankful she was fine!

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  16. I love Panera! But not for a coffee shop. They have awesome salads and I love their tomato soup and grilled cheese. Wish we had one here. Love your series.

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  17. I love your last sentence--about being part of the story in the Coffee Shop. And I love how you eavesdrop--I'm a shameless eavesdropper. :-) This was a treat to have an "extra" coffee shop adventure to read. Take care!

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  18. I wonder if you went to a free-standing Panera bread if you would have a similar experience? The mall, yes so loud, I wouldn't be able to think to write. I do like my stand in Starbuck's, although at times it can get pretty loud in there too if you are there at the wrong time (school getting out) as the high school girls get REAL chatty. Another great chronicle though!

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  19. Well told story! No Panera Bread close by but have learned that I prefer the small coffee shops to the chain places, they just feel more "homey".

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  20. My 84 year-old mom has a gentleman friend, 92, who lives in Newfoundland -- and he is very tech savvy with his Kindle and Ipad. Amazing!

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  21. I have all kinds of coffee shops nearby. If I just want a coffee, any of them will do - otherwise, I much prefer my independent (now closed - sob) coffee shop. Oh yeah, I really need to find myself a new coffee shop. I loved your observations!

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  22. You know, Sarah, I love my small town coffee shop. You have inspired me to take some shots of it the next time we go for our fresh scones and pastries along with a real cappucino (my friend Nina always has an espresso in the tiny little cup). But here, the owners, (Mother and Son) know my name, they ask about the kids and tell some great tale or story of a good book...a not so good book, a great dvd (we like to share the BBC ones), the upcoming outdoor spring and summer markets, (if the snow ever ends), or I daresay some town gossip. Yes, it's a great place and I can't wait to share it with you. You will love it! Aloha

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    1. And yes, here, you are part of the story...for it's an old pub and there are not many chairs. A coffee bar, I guess, because we pull up a stool and sit at the bar!

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Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)