New Mandolin Cafe kitchen open NOW

Without further ado, you are welcome to stop in for a meal at the Mandolin Cafe. They have done what few others have – the simple, the obvious, the lacking-in-Tacoma – free wi-fi, big tables, good coffee AND GOOD FOOD. Why is it so hard for restaurateurs to figure this one out?

Hopefully, Mandolin Cafe and The Spar will continue to lead the way toward a new kind of restaurant. Classic dining is a dying concept, in my often humble opinion. Who wants to sit idle in a restaurant while you wait to order, wait for your food, wait for your check, wait, wait, wait…  Can’t stand it. Give me laptop or give me death!

Now if we could just get an authentic bagel shop with wi-fi in Tacoma proper..

Preference, profit or prudence?

Starbucks is changing from whole milk to 2%. If you don’t specify a type of milk, you will be given 2%. Baristas beware: you are going to be making a lot of drinks twice for awhile.

How many businesses explode with popularity and then change the very foundation of ALL their successful products? I suppose you could argue that the trans-fat thing went down a similar path, but I don’t think people flock(ed) to McDonald’s specifically for trans-fat. I go to Starbuck’s for whole milk and will continue to do so – only difference is that I’ll have to add 3 words to my previously simple order. I used to pride myself on the simplicity of my 2- or 3-word coffee order (depending on current Tacoma weather) but now that’s all gone.

Suddenly the high-maintenance sap in front of me has a drink order that is technically no more complex than mine. This pisses me off. For more reasons than I’ll list here. One of my favorite baristas knows me well and she broke it down for me yesterday. Supposedly Starbucks execs (including the same idiot who sold our Seattle Sonics to a jackass from Oklahoma, paving the way for them to leave our state) compiled market research and determined that since people buy more 2% at the grocery store than whole milk, that must be what they want in their coffee.

While the whole milk is a major draw for me, many of you that pile whipped cream, sugar, sugar and more sugar into your coffee () may not even notice a difference! And those of us who prefer whole will begin specifying this ingredient. Before long, we’ll forget about this change. The biggest difference may actually exist in the estimated $0.05/gallon savings Starbucks will enjoy on their balance sheet under the “milk expense” heading. Why is whole milk more expensive than 2%? And how do they get the fat out of milk?

It’s really too bad. Starbucks really makes a nice cup of bean, their shops provide an oasis of peace, even if only for 5 minutes in a busy work day, and their food is increasingly tasty as time goes by. Why do I think of Starbucks in a worse light than Wal-Mart? Maybe it’s because Starbucks’ leadership has its collective head crammed miles into its anal cavity? Yeah, that must be it.

I began avoiding Starbucks once it looked like the Sonics would be leaving Seattle. Now this. It looks like, whenever possible, I will opt for any other espresso provider I can find in Tacoma in favor of the inept “Baby Huey” of the coffee world. While they focus on taking over the rural world of the midwest, I’d love it if they began losing their grip on urban America (even if only slightly).

Go Sonics! And whole milk.