11.09.2007

no lovin' for the oven

i have no idea who came up with the idea. i have no clue as to why a committee approved it. and i'm not quite sure how the guys in seattle could fool themselves into thinking it would be a huge money maker that would push our stocks back up to 35 bux a share.
but whatever the case or cause was, we baristas are now cursed with ovens in our stores.

i'm sure you can well guess our initial protests to the convection ovens: it's yet another machine to clean, another way to make the line move slower, and another item for customers to bitch about. and although i'm sure all these concerns were brought up to corporate, in their infinite wisdom they decided that all company owned stores NEEDED to have ovens on the premises.

now, the ovens were brought forth so that we could serve breakfast sandwiches. and i'm sure someone, somewhere bought a cup of starbucks coffee and wished they didn't have to then travel to mcdonald's for their egg mcmuffin. so for them, the introduction of the ovens was marketing genius. however, there's an equal (if not larger) number of people who were glad that they didn't have to smell the scent of pre-cooked eggs and soggy bacon while they waited for their lattes.
and yes - not only are they annoying to clean (seriously, the aroma of the cleaning spray induces gagging) and increase the wait time for customers, they are also very hazardous to baristas!

everyone in my store has fallen victim to these awful ovens. i have received blisters just from removing pastries from the oven (with the specified long handled tongs, mind you), superlead received a third degree burn from a breakfast sandwich that fought back (yes - the cheese splattered on her as she opened the oven), and other baristas also begrudgingly wear the battle wounds from these 'new money-makers'.

but it's not just the blisters, burns, and added cleaning that frustrate us baristas. it's the customers that want their muffins, danishes and sandwiches warmed to specific temperatures, or want their lattes 'zapped' so that it's a little hotter, or even want the bottom of their coffee cake room temperature, while the top is 'browned' a bit more. and of course we try to educate each customer that we cannot cater to their whims, but still arguments ensue.

my favorite so far:
customer: hi! i'm in here everyday! can you warm my slice of pizza for me?
barista brat: (searching brain for recollection of customer, but there's none) i'm sorry, we can't warm up items from other places. just starbucks food.
customer: but i'm in here everyday! it's just a slice of pizza! can't you zap if for half a minute?
barista brat: no, i'm sorry. it's a health code violation. we are not allowed to put anything in the ovens that isn't from starbucks.
customer: well, just leave the pizza in the box! seriously - i'm here everyday! can't you just do it for me?
barista brat: uh, no. it's a violation, plus the box would catch on fire.
customer: (now wearing a bitch-face) it will NOT catch fire! i KNOW how a MICROWAVE works!
barista brat: it's NOT a MICROWAVE. it's an oven and the answer is still 'no'.
customer: i can't believe you won't do this one little thing for me. i'm here everyday!

partner rant: i know that although our aprons are green, we are far from being a 'green' company. and really, i'm ok with that. what i'm not ok with is the amount of food waste in our stores. why do stores get in trouble for not marking out enough pastries? i understand you want our customers to have an abundance of choice, but when i have to toss out dozens of pastries and sandwiches a night, it's clear there's a waste problem. if you want us to get rid of the excess pastries, then at least make it easier for us to donate these food items to charities or shelters.

69 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm totally with you on the wasting food thing. Every time I closed, which was probably 4-5 times a week, I would take all the food home, rather than see it thrown in the trash. what a waste!

Kelly

Brynne said...

Major problem number one with having those ovens in your stores I have a bad feeling that you are going to have more and more people like the one with the pizza more often. everyone feels very entitled when they find out something new has been installed. Sorry, about your misfoutune I know that they have been talking about this for a long time and now they finally do it. yuck.

SkippyMom said...

Three words: Tax Write Off. By donating to the shelters [which is an excellent idea] they can write it off. Maybe too much of a hassle, but I know several restaurants and groceries in VA that are chains that do it for our local shelters. Good idea brat.

Sorry about the scary convection oven. Like y'all didn't have enough to do already - I can imagine how it slows things down [and peeve off customers in the process]. Well, look at the bright side [without any of you getting hurt more] it DOES present another subject to post about eh?

Hang in there sweetie.

Skip

mellowlee said...

UG! I'm with you on the breakfast sandwich front! I hate the smell of pre-cooked eggs, and totally prefer the glorious smell of coffee when I go into my regular Bux! I have no problem stopping at Mcwoofies for my breakfast burrito before I hit my Bux, which is just around the corner.

BTW, I picked up my xmas ceramic mug, and got the xmas travel tumbler too. it's soooooo beautiful and red *happy Mel*

Eric said...

That actually supprises me. Commercial ovens are hazardous at best and really need to be used by trained pros. Not that the baristas are not pros at what they do but I worked in kitchens for a long time before I was put on the line with the hot stuff that burns.

pilgrimchick said...

In fact, ironically enough, my working at McDonalds was an exercise in controlling waste. We had a system that brought waste to a very minimal level at the end of every day.....and that is MCDONALDS. McDonalds food can generally be termed as waste whether it is binned at closing or not, and yet, their standards for reducing overall waste are higher than that of Starbucks. Amazing.

One of the local Starbucks employees, who used to work for our museum years ago, realized what charity to which he could donate "expired" Starbucks food. That's right--the employees in my department at the museum. Our pay is so low, that is indeed a donation rather than a fun, free addition to our diets.

Manuel said...

Mark my words they will be out again within a year......

Anonymous said...

I can hear the "it's not a microwave now!" Just because it is square does not make it a microwave. Good luck brat!

Christine said...

Hey Brat,

The biggest reason why companies won't donate their food is the possible impending lawsuit. Silly, but true...

Rambling Mom said...

I want a venti double non fat cappawhatsit with whip and three raw sugars (not two, three) and a breakfast bucks muffin. OH while I was waiting for the breakfast bucks muffin my coffee got cold, could you make me a fresh coffee? Oh while I was waiting for my fresh coffee my muffin got cold.......

Anonymous said...

We donate our pastries every day. A local charity comes and picks them up everyday. This is the case with most of the stores in my district as well. It can be done! Talk to your SM. There are actually some integrity issues with partners taking home the leftovers (hmmm, if I pull too much and it gets marked out, then I get to take them home...)

Jen said...

I work at a UK Starbucks, and I can't believe u guys hav to hav ovens - its so strange, we were just talking the other day about how awful it would be to have them!

Do you guys not have the breakfast paninis? We just stick them on a panini grill for 3 mins, fairly easy. Tho I did get a pretty nasty burn from it the other day...

The Pensive Penguin said...

That "I want the top of my pastry browneda little and the bottom room temperature" request sounds a lot like someone I served once who ordered his prime rib rare, then proceeded to complain that it was too cold. He wanted it hotter, but he wanted it to still be rare (in kitchen-ese that reads: "I want this hotter, but don't raise the temp").

To Jen- The panini, while popular across Europe, is barely beginning to permeate mainstream American cuisine. The Southern California restaurant I manage has a few we serve, and guests are regularly asking just what a panini is. Plus, us Americans have been conditioned since childhood to eat our breakfast sandwiches on McMuffins (seriously, I had a customer call it that once), and oddly enough Bux is forcing its way into the category of comfort food around here so it would be a tough environment for introducing people to new foods.

Anonymous said...

I have gotten at least 3 burns from the Eggs Florentine cheese.

CP said...

We don't yet have warming ovens or breakfast sandwiches/salad/any real food in Ohio's Starbucks yet, though we do have WARMING on the test menu. One of the things I hated about working at Barnes & Noble was the time consumed by toasting the sandwiches on panini grills. I also got a nasty burn from one of them shortly before my last day there.

Anonymous said...

I believe I recall one of the early tests of breakfast sandwiches at the store I frequented at my previous job. I dashed in early every morning and wanted my Americano and my croissant and get the hell out and get to my hellish job. So one morning, some poor girl tried to get me to stand around and wait for them to heat some sandwich for me and I'm afraid I told her that this was the stupidest idea I had ever heard in my life and that I wanted my coffee and I wanted out. This store was WAY too small to stand around in.

Now that they are everywhere, I tried a couple of different sandwiches and they just aren't very good.

Allan said...

Do all bux chux edibles into the dumpster in such a manner? I could use a sandwich...

Scott Jones said...

I've honestly never had a problem with the oven and we've had ours since March or April of 2005.
I've never been burned, and I don't recall any of the partners I've worked with being badly burned.

Anonymous said...

If you file an accident report, would it stay in-store or would someone higher up have to deal with the paperwork as well? I'd be willing to do some extra paperwork if I know I was drowning the guys at corporate in forms ;) Just a thought, especially since it sounds like they are a bit unsafe...

MGK said...

I know Starbucks is far from being a green a company and as a customer *I* am not okay with that.

All frappuccino cups are #2 recyclable as are the flat lids (but not the domed lids). Yet there is no method for recycling anywhere in the store. This is unfortunate because #1 and #2 are the most common type of recyclable pastic.

And, yes, I take my cups and coffee jackets home with me so that I recycle them.

http://musicyouneedtohear.blogspot.com/

No Nonsense Girl said...

Hey Barista Brat!!!

Just wanted to let you know I've been reading you for a while and just aded you to my blogroll. :)

Visit me!!! http://thenononsense.blogspot.com

Johnny Yen said...

I don't know what state you're in, but check on the Worker's Compensation laws there. I used to work as a clerk for a Worker's Comp attorney, and burns are compensable.

It sounds to me like Bux is a company that is about to "Jump The Shark." They took a great idea and rather than run with it, they're going to run it into the ground.

Miss Foxy said...

I was glad to leave Starbucks when I did. I heard the ovens were coming and said, "Thank God for Law School." (Although sometimes I regret that decision too)

Meghan said...

Wow -- I've actually had nightmares about the prospect of having to make breakfast food. I used to work in a high-volume Caribou and had a terrible nightmare one night about trying to make breakfast along with the coffee...drink times got up to the 30 minute mark...customers screaming...aaahhh!! I am truly, deeply sorry that my nightmare has become your reality. I promise to NEVER order a Starbucks breakfast sandwich, and hope that they are discontinued as soon as possible!

Anonymous said...

Most people that are planning on going to McD's aren't even going to stop at StarBucks. Independent taste testing has shown that people prefer McD's coffee over StarBucks.

I think StarBucks has already jumped the shark. Their attempt at introducing a hot breakfast is just another milestone in their trip to obscurity.

Subservient No More said...

My sister has a friend who works at Bux and was he was so appalled at the food waste that he just secretly takes it home every night and gives it to his friends and room mates or just eats it himself.

None of the Bux around here have ovens or offer breakfasts. I saw it in New York and thought it was a terrible idea.

Lorraine said...

I hereby pledge to never order anything in a bux that has to be put into one of those deadly ovens, out of solidarity.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking, if you're not smart enough to use an oven without burning yourself, maybe you shouldn't be working.

For Physics' sake, it's an oven. How stupid are you?

Syd said...

If a barista can still burn him/herself when using the mandated tongs to remove food from the oven, I'd say it was a badly designed oven.

Meghan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meghan said...

anonymous: Go get a job at an oven-equipped Starbucks and work a few hectic shifts. I guarantee you'll get some kind of burn, whether it is from the oven, espresso wand, or coffee brewer.

I am also 100% sure that you have NEVER worked in food service.

Brynne said...

Wow anonymous what the hell is your issue? I have to side with meghan I am willing to bet that you have never worked in food service ever in you life. People get burned on a daily basis in those places and most of them probably have a higher IQ then you so perhaps you should shut your trap. Go ahead try working a food service job for a week I garantee that you won't last cause you are probably a paper pusher that doesn't have to deal with the public.

Anonymous said...

I'm guessing the burns of the coworker were NOT third degree and this is an exaggeration for illustrative purposes?

Burns in food service happen all the time and smart like a SOB. OUCH!

JZintel said...

Next time someone asks to heat something up, just whip out a lighter and proceed to "zap" it with fire.

And seeing as I'm in retail revenge fantasy land, do it while on the back of a unicorn wearing a large novelty cowboy hat.

Brynne said...

Jzintel I like the way you think, Unicorns and Novelty cowboy hats just make this fantasy even better. Would it be too over the top to put a Gryphon in the corner of that picture? :-D

BNI Member said...

Hey Brat!

I just love your blog. I do check it a few times a week and have been for quite some time now. Just never commented. Anyway, I agree with you that the oven idea is a horrible one and would be willing to bet that you will have more of those "pizza incidents". What is the matter with these entitled people?

They should go home and use their own ovens!

I've noticed that you highlight blogs that you enjoy reading, and I recently started one of my own. I am in a professional networking group and have decided to blog about my encounters with the members, the directors, and basically all of the drama that happens at the meetings and throughout the week. I would love it if you could give it a read, and if you enjoy what you read, a little shameless promotion would be much appreciated.

I look forward to more of your Starbucks stories!

BNI Member

bniblunders.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Jesus - am I the only one who think it's not the end of the world if you just actually stuck that person's pizza in the oven? It's not a health code violation and that's a lame excuse. Why not actually treat the customer with something other than condescending scorn?

Brynne said...

I don't think it's the end of the world but seriously why should the starbucks employee have to heat up outside food for someone who is "in their store every day" ? Places like that are busy, and I don't think that it's such a crime to say no I'm sorry we can only heat up starbucks food in our oven. You must be one of those people who sees the "this lane ending" sign and thinks to yourself Oh yes this lane is ending for everyone else except for me and then you proceed to cut someone off because in fact that lane is ending for everyone including you. What makes you so entitled that you think you can just have whatever you want when ever you want? Also I'm pretty sure Jesus doesn't have anything to do with it. Get over yourself.

Miss Foxy said...

Actually, it is a health code violation.

Brynne said...

Thank you Miss Foxy! :-) I was thinking that as I was ranting and my rant turned into a super rant and I forgot about that part.

Anonymous said...

Meghan,

Actually, I worked the restaurant area, food prep, the front door and the bar of an extremely busy pub all through college. So, I guess you're 100% wrong in your assumption.

My wife was one of the cooks. I remember one bitterly cold night when I opened the food locker and warmer air flowed out.

I just use my brain when I work. Just keep in mind, hot things can give you an Owie if you touch them! If it happens anyway, just run to Mommy, she'll give you a hug and kiss it to make it all better.

Cripes, grow up already.

Anonymous said...

it has nothing to do with the oven. it's that damn sandwich! you open the package and the cheese is all crumbly instead of in one solid piece. what kind of cheap government cheese does starbucks use?? so far the only burns i've gotten is from splattering hot cheese grease. which would not happen if the cheese was in one piece!

Meghan said...

anonymous: Surprising, very surprising. However, you can use your brain all you want and accidents STILL happen -- being 'smart' has very little to do with it, especially with cheese-spattering sandwiches, as Brat mentioned. I wonder how you worked in food service so long and didn't learn this. Yes, being cautious will help, but it can only get you so far. There are some things you don't see coming -- or maybe you are simply too preoccupied with helping customers quickly and efficiently to keep in mind to avoid every possible hazard that could come your way! Getting burned does not mean you are stupid...actually, that's quite an absurd connection you've imagined there.

Accidents happen to EVERYONE, you included, and no amount of intelligence makes anybody immune to them.

Disclaimer: if you're just trolling, well, bravo, a few of us bit. :p

Marion said...

Here is another pledge not to ask them to warm anything up. Unless my hot latte is served iced.

Johnny Yen said...

Talking to friends who go to Bux a lot, they're saying that the ovens are obviously causing problems there. Strike another one up for middle level managers and their decisions.

Leonesse said...

Brat, can you please just put my tv dinner in your oven? Please? It only takes 20 minutes. I brought my own oven mitts!

Here's to stupid corporate decisions! How long do you think they would do this if they had to actually use the things?

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that Brat was correct in her assertion that placing a food item not prepared by Starbucks is in fact a health code violation. While codes do vary state to state, anonymous, the item was not prepared or handled by her or any of her coworkers, or for that matter the company (like say in a factory), thus they cannot ensure it was handled properly within safety guidelines. That piece of pizza could have been made by a Hepatitis C carrier who did not wash their hands. Then, the person who purchased it may have left it in their car all day creating a little cesspool of yummy food poisoning. All of these variables are out of the control of Brats hands. However, had she warmed it and the person got sick, now Starbucks would be liable for something they aren't even earing a profit for (also contaminating the oven and all bux food). Please learn health code standards before entering another kitchen anonymous for all of our sakes!

PS There actually was a serious Hep. C outbreak at a pizza place where I live.

Anonymous said...

It's true that most food goes to waste rather than charity because of liability issues.
Its also true that you cannot simply reheat food that did not come from your restuarant because it is a health code violation.
Its 100% true that everyone working in a kitchen will receive a burn at one point or another. If you didnt consider yourself lucky. I got a third degree burn serving soup once. My friend was burned after a coworker turned around and bumped a fryer basket fresh out of grease into her arm. I've been burned on ovens a million times. I'm pretty sure the troller was the lazy employee who thinks he's all that and doesnt really work anyways and thats how avoids getting burned. Also prep boy, does chopping veggies usually give you a burn? It doesnt sound like you ever worked in the actual kitchen where burns happen.

- unabashedly

Seth said...

I was just commenting on how bad starbucks smells now. It really is gross. But americans loves them some artery-burstin' egg-cheese-bread sandwiches

Jen said...

North of the border, a hugely popular donut shop added Breakfast sandwiches to their menu last spring. Not a huge deal, but I do believe they're still quite annoying to make as you have to keep the reheated egg and sausage warm. (I dont work there so I'm not sure how much of a pain they are) But they have taken off. People love them, even more than their soup and sandwiches and other items. Is it possible that the bigwigs at Starbucks noticed this and decided to cast in on success? However, I agree that ovens don't belong in Starbucks, that they should stay with their drinks and small but unique selection of pastries.

Courtney said...

AMEN to the wasting food policy. We had a guy who use to take the "wasted pastries" home at night, and in order to "catch him" we had to store all our wasted pastries in Cambros for the night with a receipt of our waste-out transaction. I just wish we'd donate it or something... it just seems utterly ridiculous!

Brynne said...

suggestion about donating pastries. look up shelters and soup kitchens in the area and offer the pastries. I'm wondering if they aren't aware that starbucks is willing to donate their pastries. the bux I used to work at donates marked out pastries. The people from the shelter come and pick them up but the manager set it up that way cause the shelter is no where near our store or anyone who worked there. So I suggest looking up soup kitchens and shelters in the area and seeing what you can do. that's all the insight I have on that. hope you have a good holiday and you don't have to be at the bux tomorrow. God knows I'm brewing my coffee at home tomorrow.

Beth said...

In the early 1990s I volunteered for a local organization that went to local restaurants, picked up foods such as your leftover pastries, and delivered them to soup kitchens and the like. The organization had to stop after six months — because of the threat of lawsuits from homeless folks who ate the food and possibly got food poisoning. Too much risk for a volunteer organization.

Ridiculously sad, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

OMG
I hear you on those stupid ovens. We have had them at my store for about 8 months now, and they STILL suck...I hate them so so much! My freinds are all sick of hearing about my hate for them, so I am glad to read about everyone elses hate as well!

goodness gracious! said...

same thing happened in NYC - we could no longer donate the bags of leftover patries because of possible legal risks/health code violations and also couldn't take the food home, for fear of encouraging actual stealing.

i don't understand how anyone who has ever used an oven, ever, could say that smart people don't get burned. do smart people not trip, or bump into things, or make mistakes?

exasperated said...

Why are so many people who comment on this blog so stuck on the word "entitlement". If you buy something, you're supposed to get it. What do you not understand?

Anonymous said...

exasperated: I think what they're talking about is people who expect things that they DIDN'T buy. i.e. people who didn't buy a sandwich (or anything else for that matter) yet feel entitled to use the oven to warm their food up.

Brynne said...

anonymous: you are absolutly correct on that. Or at least from my point of view. if some one buys something from that starbucks and would like it warmed. as long as it's not a health code violation it shouldn't be a problem. but some one who brings in outside food and then proceedes to say "but I'm in here every day" I don't care how often you are in the store the employees shouldn't feel like they have to do customers "favors" and as mentioned in an above comment outside food is a health code violation. But you are absolutely correct. as exasperated is correct. if someone buys something yes they should get it. it's the little extras that they think they should get for free or less then everyone else.

goodness gracious! said...

so often too people are only thinking of themselves. they say, c'mon, how long can it take to do this one "little" favor, like letting them eat food from other resturants in the store, get free stuff, warm up (or chill, i've had that too), outside goods.

but that little favor holds up the line and service for others. maybe if this one person were the only person, then what would that little delay matter, but honestly, you bend the rules for one, others see it, and then it becomes a problem. maybe you do a favor once when there is no line, then that person comes back and wants a favor again, and this time you're understaffed and theres a dozen folks out the door. and of course, the worker can get in serious trouble for breaking the rules. when i think of entitled customers, i think of ones who don't care if they make everyone else in the store late, and don't care if i get screamed at, as long as thier bagel sandwich from across the street is extra toasty.

Anonymous said...

Geez. What world are you living in that all these things irritate you? It happens at all the stores. Your story ain't so tragic. And check your blood pressure while you're at it. You're stressing me out--the way you write all the time.

exasperated said...

The crappy thing about working in any customer service related job is that you , sadly, DO have to give in to stupid demands and whatnot occassionaly. It's great when you're able to tell the person no once and they walk way, but sometimes people are unreasonable and you have do what they want to spare yourself and others time delays and annoyance. Sometimes it;s just easier to give people what they want, and be done with them than it is to follow the rules. It's a lot less frustrating that way. However, if this barista chick did that I would have one less blog to read, and that would be sad. (for me)

Anonymous said...

Practically do have 1 less blog to read... Your public misses you, brat...

Anonymous said...

exasperated: Great point, that is so true. You do have to weigh your options and figure out what's worth bending the rules and what's not. In my experience, it all comes down to the type of management you have. If they're cool and understand that sometimes it's better for everyone if a rule gets broken, then things will generally go smoother. However, if you have a by-the-books type manager who will write you up for any little thing...well, the store will generally have a lot more pissed-off customers because every little ridiculous rule has to be enforced. There is the problem, though, of the idiot employees who don't realize that there's a time and place for rule-breaking, and that some rules are unbreakable. Like, you don't give your friend a free smoothie on your first shift with a new manager. And don't train any customers to believe that they get free stuff whenever they come in -- it will be a nightmare when that customer and the corporate suits are in the store at the same time and you try to tactfully explain that yes, they have to pay for their muffin this time.

Anonymous said...

Getting close to a month since your last post brat.

louarns said...

louarns this isn't a battle
in fact, its not even an argument

susieq said...

Where are you, barista brat?

Brynne said...

Brat we miss you! I hope that all is well. sorry if we've turned your comment space into a war zone. we all just seem to have very strong opinions.

Jenn said...

This made me laugh out loud. I just stumbled upon your blog. I am a Starbucks regular, and I have to say, it has never occurred to me to request any warming up services. I've had my share of customer service jobs though, and whatever you once thought no one in their right mind would do... there will be a customer who does it.

hanoko said...

In most stores in our district, partners are allowed to take marked-out pastries and sandwiches home, which cuts down on waste a bit. I'm of the understanding that this is far from the norm, though.