Avoid Café Rouge In Berkeley

Maybe I was having a bad day - but it all felt good. And certainly not as bad as the poor waitress over at Café Rouge in Berkeley.


Between my meetings I had some time to kill and found myself on Fourth Street. Decided that a small glass of wine was in order.

Observation - I used my phone to check out what wireless was around and lo - 3 wireless networks in Café Rouge. Count me in.

I entered and was seated and the waitress came over and gave me a menu.


Couldn’t help but notice that at the bottom of the menu, I was told that there was an ‘employee benefit surcharge’ of 4% that would be added to my bill.

I have seen this before and it is getting increasingly more common, at least in the Bay Area.

I raise it now - because if raises a few questions in my mind ….

  1. Why don’t they pay their staff a living wage to begin with?
  2. Why don’t they add he 4% to their base prices, rather than hiding it?

Net result, when it came time for the bill, a $12 - not exactly cheap to begin with - glass of mediocre wine ended up costing me over $16 …. don’t forget the taxes - and of course a tip - because that is what we do in America, even if you are being asked to pay part of your waiters salary with an additional 4% …

It reminded me that America used to be proud of ‘calling it like it is’ - just being straight forward. When you ‘tax’ me an additional 35% on top of the advertised price - I do not call that being straight forward.

But there’s more ….

Those wireless networks I spoke of? Yeah …. they aren’t for customers. So no passwords … sorry. My waitress explained (without me asking) that apparently all the customers used to overload the router - so the owner stopped it. I found out why. It is pretty much a dead spot for cellular - so I couldn’t even jump onto mu phone’s hot spot. Very annoying. (Don’t let that one dot LTE signal in the picture confuse you - it depended on how the phone was held - put it on the table and no signal and even when held LTE was excruciating at best!

That said. the eagle eyed reader will have spotted an open wireless connection called ‘DWR-Guest’. Thank you people, you served me well. (Having switched on my VPN - of course !).

To me, it seems that this would contribute to explaining why I was occupying one of four tables in the entire place - while the Peets next door had a line out of the door.

But there’s more. I was only two sips into my wine when the waitress returned. “Would you like another glass” she asked. “I am fine” I replied. She turned, left my table and returned 5 minutes later with my bill.

I really had only just arrived, so left the bill on the table, with the idea that I would pay when I was ready.

Thirty minutes later I was ready - and no waiter or waitress to be seen. A busboy was passing by and I asked him if he could take my check and money to the register. He obliged.

It was another ten minutes - I kid you not - before I finally concluded the transaction.

My bill came back, with my change and the waitress - a new one - so I had obviously caught a shift changeover. She dropped the bill holder on the table turned to the right with her tray of coffee for the customer on the patio and walked straight into a glass door.


I felt very sorry for her.

August 17, 2016