Chelsee’s Coffee is a cute, artsy, boutique coffee shop in the middle of the historic Arts District of downtown Winston-Salem; Trade Street specifically. It owes most of its business to the placement, not so much its product. Residents and urbanites that work downtown have coffee options. Many, many coffee options.
4th Street dwellers have Camino Bakery (our preference) or the brand new Washington Perk & Provision Company. 5th Street consumers have Starbucks (if you’re into subpar chain coffee) or venture to the aforementioned 4th Street locales. East of Liberty Street peeps and those who want trendy, over-roasted and sometimes burnt options over substance go to Krankie’s. Trade St. gets Chelsee’s.
I will admit that we didn’t actually get coffee on this trip. We were wanting to try the smoothies that they advertised both in the store and on the street sandwich board. We were downtown for the annual Bookmarks Festival and even though the weather was spectacular, it was still warm enough to warrant some smoothie goodness. Smoothies are part of their product line and we figured we could get one, enjoy it and be back to talk to sponsors of Tart & Tangy Triad, Barnhills Books, Wine & Gifts. Yes, the line was long (and by long I mean about 4 customers ahead of us), but nothing that would have made it incredibly overwhelming for the employees.
They have modern machinery and had two veteran and seasoned baristas behind the deck making drinks. Neither seemed to have any problems making drinks. The line was moving at an expected pace. The person in front of us ordered and was told by the lifeless statue that was stationed behind the cash register that they “weren’t making smoothies right now.” The customer said that was all she had wanted so she walked out of line, just as the barista known as DJ RedStar called out to the waiting gallery, “Lemonade Smoothie,” with a playful voice.
So we approached the counter and Venus de Void-o’Personality informed us upon the question that indeed they weren’t making smoothies. I inquired about the one that just passed over the counter and she said in stone faced zeal (that’s sarcasm), “that was the last one.” I said, “well, I’ll just have a Perrier,” as Stephanie went to look for something instead, as well. The Human Bust stood there, just looking around. “Well I guess I’ll go ahead and get it since you don’t seem to want to do anything,” I said, more than slightly annoyed. Stephanie had a Diet Cheerwine and I my Perrier. I wonder had we asked for Iced Coffee if we’d have had the same reaction?
They acted like ice was the problem, or they felt too busy to worry about smoothies. There was plenty of ice in their machine. Giving benefit of doubt, the machine could have been down. But can’t you say that instead of making it out like we all didn’t see the three smoothies prior to the customer in front of us walk out the door?
This is not the first time that I have gone to Chelsee’s This trip was not at all unlike most visits I’ve made here. The service is almost always lacking any personality. No matter who is behind the counter. Yes, there may have been circumstances that I didn’t know about going on in the unfortunate cashier’s life. But, you know what, that’s not our problem. Customer service is driven by happy customers, satisfied customers. Customers aren’t and don’t have to be ones who care what is going on in your life. That’s not to say I don’t have empathy or even sympathy to your plights, neither am I a bad nor hard to please customer. However, you are paid to do said service, do your job or go home. Unemployment is high in this state and there are plenty of people that could have your job. Even when she was off of work she walked through Trade St. with a look of painful disdain.
I can’t imagine that any other factor than location is the reason Chelsee’s stays in business. The coffee drinks are less-than-inspiring and the smoothie flavors are basic. Yes, coffee is coffee but coffee shops bring a certain degree of self-importance that all of us do indulge in from time-to-time and need something more than the Folgers or Maxwell House we can make at home. The flavor of the coffee is mediocre at best. The atmosphere does brag a nice fireplace and a TV to distract from the overall banality of the location. Still, customer service is a huge factor of a return visit and since this is not the first time, yet the worst time, this has happened, I doubt I’ll give any more money to Chelsee’s Coffee.
This experience, on top of the past experiences, deems that the location doesn’t even warrant a rating.