Friday, June 30, 2006

The Rise and Fall of Olivia's Courtyard Cafe

Posted By on Fri, Jun 30, 2006 at 8:58 AM

I was so excited to see a new, independent café about five drive-time minutes away. Someone was clearly thinking outside the box by transforming a landscape business into a restaurant. The back grounds were gorgeous and conducive to small groups gathering for coffee and breakfast while the inside was equally cozy. At first, it was always crowded, and service was slow, but somehow it seemed earnest, and you didn't mind waiting and talking and even commingling with other diners. Everything was fresh right down to the house-made marmalade made from organic oranges. At first, the bakery items were also made in-house, and their freshness appeal penetrated your senses.  Who can resist a freshly baked cinnamon bun or Danish? Glowing reviews appeared from the local media.

But then bad things started to happen. The phone number was changed, and the old phone number did not forward to the new phone number. They only accepted cash and checks in a credit-card world.  A better system was needed as there was a perpetual bottleneck at the counter, which might be understandable in the beginning, but eventually a viable solution must appear. Peering into the pastry case, the choices diminished, and if you ordered a croissant and wanted it warm, the ultimate sin of microwaving caused a rubbery, not buttery, texture. The proprietress was frequently absent, and no one seemed to care if you were present or not. Although there were few customers, the long wait to order and food delivery became interminable. A reader told me he walked in, the place was empty, all the tables were dirty, and he walked out. Ouch.

A friend who lived around the corner declared that she was never going back. She had a litany of reasons why, but we both felt a sense of loss, because Olivia's held such promise in the beginning. What the heck happened?

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