We sometimes plan our visits around the tea room at the venue we choose. For example, this weekend we planned a trip to Boscobel House, the place where Charles II hid while escaping from Cromwell's troops after the execution of his father Charles I. It's about an hour from where we live, so finding something to eat as part of the deal was quite important.
(If you want to know where we live take a look at the map on English Heritage's website and find that large, oval shape in the middle with no EH properties in it. Then find the centre of that oval and you'll be close to our house!)
So, we checked out the EH website to see whether Boscobel would make a suitable destination. It warns you that the tearoom is an independent business and even tells you that it doesn't accept plastic payments. So far, so good. It actually says: "Situated within the old stables, the tearoom serves home-made cakes, light lunches and hot and cold drinks." Sounded reasonable. So off we went.
Fortunately, we have EH membership, so we didn't pay to get in. It was 12.30, so we went straight for lunch. There were precisely five things on the menu. (If you don't count cakes. We're both diabetic, so we don't count cakes.) Two of them had bacon in, the other three had cheese. So we ordered bacon sandwiches. Except there wasn't any bacon. So why were they still on the (chalked) menu board?
The waitress/whatever began a long tale about her woes and how the people from yesterday didn't leave a list of what was used up, like they were supposed to do. I don't care about how the system works. I asked why the two bacon items hadn't been crossed off the board so I didn't choose it in the first place? No chalk, apparently. And no damp cloth either, I assume.
This was two and a half hours after the place opened and nobody had done anything about visiting the two supermarkets within 15 minutes drive and buying some bacon. No-one had attempted to get any kind of alternative food, in fact, no-one seemed to give a dingo's kidney about customer service.
This isn't good enough English Heritage! Don't let an unprepared, unprofessional bunch of wasters damage your image. We left. Not just the cafe, but the site. We didn't spend anything in the gift shop. And we're unlikely to go back. We're also unlikely to renew our EH membership when it comes up either.
MUST TRY HARDER!