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Schnecken with Ann Amernick


DonRocks
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Yeah! What he said!

Well-put, JPW.

If I hadn't spent the day on a couch at Mayorga I would have said it first :wink:

Not to mention that she THREE blocks from one of DC's major tourist attractions, dead animals or not!

Whatever happened to keeping the customer happy?

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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... it's going to be hard for me to cross Amernick's threshhold with a good attitude based on what I've read.

I agree with this as all that I have heard about her bakery has not been too favorable in regards to service or product availability. Although the dessert that I did have at Palena was wonderful!

JPW -- right on!

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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From all of the praise that I've read, I bet that her baked goods are truly spectacular. If, following this rant, I am ever allowed anywhere near Cleveland Park, I'd like to try them. I'm sure that I'd enjoy. I just have no patience for the "tortured artist" syndrome that seems to prevail among a group of DC chefs.

Consider yourself an "artist". Fine. But,

THERE IS NO ART WITHOUT BUSINESS!

This thread is reminding me of previous discussions re: Colorado Kitchen. It seems that there are many customers who feel that service goes hand-in-hand with superior eats, service being defined as attention to customers, while there are many chefs who view that type of service to be conforming to lower standards. From the Ann email DonRocks posted above, it sounds as though Amernick does not intend to have bad service, but clearly there is a down-the-nose cast at the place. There are ways to show commitment to a standard without being exclusionary and setting rules that can only make others wince!

I say this while admitting that I have not tried it for the same reason as Jenny - Amernick's is always closed when I go by!!! :wacko:

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It's clear from what Ann has said herself, and from my experiences in the bakery, that walk-in business is only a small part of her (and her employees') income. Indeed, I imagine walk-in business takes more employee time and energy than it tends to garner, given that few people go buy a big assortment of pastries...it's a cupcake here, a few caramels there. There never seems to be a single employee devoted to retrieving items and running the cash register; there always seems to be a person working on something in the back who comes up to the front when a customer walks in. As Don pointed out, signage is minimal, and that chalkboard doesn't really describe much of what appears in the cases.

At Amernick, they produce all the desserts for Palena, they stock the cases in front of the bakery, and then there's the wedding and special-occasion cake business which is substantial. It doesn't surprise me at all that the cases are squarely at the bottom of the cash engine, and therefore squarely at the bottom of the priority list.

Not that I have much sympathy for her attitude towards the hapless walk-in donut buyer...but I'm more willing to put up with it than I am from somebody whose entire business is selling donuts.

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Then if its a hassle for her then why bother selling them at all! If the walk in business is not worth it just turn into a special order place. And if the walk in is to attract new customers for the special order items, then she needs to work on some customer service.

Wearing jeans to the best restaurants in town.
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ok, messing with the donuts is one thing...I'll admit that I've never wakened sufficiently early on a Saturday morning to dodge the traffic/strollers/pandas that careen between here and there...

but now she's done it.

too far.

over the line.

she's messed with the cookies and caramels at Palena.

no more ordering desserts for your companion and yourself and then wriggling eyebrows, eyes, and/or cash (add other assets if you got 'em) to bribe a couple of caramels out of your waiter.

no more shortbread cookies with coffee.

no more caramels ripping out your teeth as you stumble happily into the night.

no more "I don't care if you're on a diet--look how small the cookies are."

according to our (kind, bright, knowledgeable, and graceful) waitress this evening, people were "ordering just the cookies" and she "doesn't want to spend her life baking cookies" and "wants people to try the other desserts."

Those caramels were like crack--why did she get us addicted only to rip them away???

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Gotta wonder why anyone who doesn't care about walk-in biz would rent a primo storefront in the middle of Cleveland Park.

But it's her money and her business, so I'm fine with whatever level of service she wants to provide. That's the beauty of a market economy -- I don't have to like her and she don't have to like me. As long as I like her donuts well enough and she likes money well enough, we're gonna find a way for me to get her donuts and her to get my money -- even if that means we have to ignore certain things about each other that we might like to change.

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A great motivator in starting one's own business is the ability to tell people like Ms. Two Doughnuts and Change Back from a Twenty that they can go eat something far less appetizing than the food being served. Since when did "good service" come to mean "wax, buff and kiss my ass after I humiliate your staff"? I love seeing some self-centered, self-important, abusive "The Customer Is Always Right" type say "I want to see your manager" and be told "well, you'll have to settle for the owner, and that would be me". Chapeau, Ann.

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An observation: unless "Ms. Two Doughnuts and Change Back from a Twenty" happens to be on this forum, we are getting only one side of a story that might well be disputed.

I wouldn't take it for granted that Ms. Two Doughnuts took the "wax, buff and kiss my ass after I humiliate your staff" approach, nor that she acted like a "self-centered, self-important, abusive 'The Customer Is Always Right' type."

Now, I don't dispute that if she did, then she had some payback coming. I just don't know that I am willing to accept at face value one participant's account of what sounds like a pretty tense exchange.

For the same reasons, I take much of the negative feedback about Amernick, Colo. Kitchen, etc., that appears in the WP Online forums -- and occasionally here -- with several grains of NaCl.

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Ray Kroc changed precious few 20's before he died in 1984. McDonald's didn't have to break many 20's until the late 1980's, actually. People (especially fast food consumers, who were mostly teenagers and young parents) basically didn't carry around 20's in, say, 1957, when the average annual wage was $3,641.72 (it's $33,252.09 today). $20 was two days wages.

Edited by jbraynolds (log)
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Ray Kroc changed precious few 20's before he died in 1984. McDonald's didn't have to break many 20's until the late 1980's, actually. People (especially fast food consumers, who were mostly teenagers and young parents) basically didn't carry around 20's in, say, 1957, when the average annual wage was $3,641.72 (it's $33,252.09 today). $20 was two days wages.

Good point, Josh, but you get my drift.

Mark

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We could make a killing if we stood outside, sold "change for a $20" and didn't specify what the change was :biggrin:

True Heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic.

It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost,

but the urge to serve others at whatever cost. -Arthur Ashe

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  • 3 weeks later...

Saturday, April 24, 2004

3:00 pm

I approached the storefront nervously. Did I have enough small bills? Should I ask about the doughnuts if I don't see any? Will I be reprimanded? Would my enjoyment of this lovely sunny day be spoiled by this next stop on my to-do list?

Clearly this was no average trip to the bakery. I was about to darken Ann Amernick's doorstep. I was freakin' stressed!!

But other than more signs telling me what to do (and what not to do) than I had ever seen in a store before...things went fine. I read the signs carefully, learning when doughnuts might be available (Friday, Saturday, maybe Thursday too - after 11:30 am), how to pay, to try "That Baltimore Cake"....etc., etc.

I had a good sense of what I wanted: some of the famous cookies, maybe some schnecken and, to Ann's chagrin, a damn doughnut or two.

Browsing, I was again shocked by how little merchandise was offered. The cookies (probably six or seven varieties) were teeny-tiny and displayed on small plates of about twenty. There were two or three varieties of shortbread, exceptionally small cheese cookies, no schnecken (instead they had plain cinnamon rolls), the Baltimore Cake and...that's all I can remember right now.

What I got:

- 1/4 lb of the cinnamon shortbread cookies (@$15 and change per lb)

- One black and white cookie

- One sugar raised doughnut

The damage:

Just over $7

The verdict:

I'd go back, especially for the doughnuts!

I didn't think the cinnamon shortbread cookies were all that. And I LOVE shortbread. These struck me as bland. The friend with whom I shared them said "whatever, they're ok, not great."

The doughnut, on the other hand, was delightful. Not comparable to a Krispy Kreme. This one wasn't as light or as sweet as KK, but I loved it just the same. Reminded me of doughnuts I used to get from local bakeries as a kid in NE PA.

I haven't yet eaten the black and white cookie - that's dessert for later.

As for the service, it was fine. I was greeted from the back of the kitchen when I walked in and they said to let them know when I was ready. But there are signs in several places instructing customers to shout because they're too busy/short-staffed to watch the front of the store (I'm paraphrasing).

Interesting place.

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I've been and I've had:

- the now infamous donuts, although I hadn't heard of them and I only learned of them because there was a sign saying that they don't have then before 11:00

- the spritz cookies

- crossiants, chocolate and plain (the reason I sought out the place)

- the foccacia

- sticky bun

- some cheesecake brownie type thing

I think that's it. And my absolute favorite was the foccacia with (I think) onions, achovies, tomatoes. So incredibly good. And the plain crossiants were good as well. Every time I went in and they didn't have what I was looking for (namely, the crossiants) I tried something else and it was great. But I don't think she can complain too much about people coming in for donuts and leaving if she didn't have any. I don't buy something everytime I do into a store, period.

As for the $20 thing, did she not have any ones, or did she just not want to make change? If it's the later, that sounds pretty incredible. Most stores have adapted to the fact that everyone gets their money from ATMs these days and most people don't have small bills. I can't believe that it's THAT hard for her to stock up on ones before opening. Sounds to me she is just looking for another reason to dislike donut-only customers.

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The doughnuts are dope as is the rest of the production. But how hard is it to make change? If you swing by my joint I'll take your money in nickels and dimes. Don't have that, Fine! Just sign off on Jarad's rumplestilskin cause and your hot to trot.

Food For Thought

Jarad C. Slipp, One third of ???

He was a sweet and tender hooligan and he swore that he'd never, never do it again. And of course he won't (not until the next time.) -Stephen Patrick Morrissey

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The doughnuts are dope as is the rest of the production. But how hard is it to make change? If you swing by my joint I'll take your money in nickels and dimes. Don't have that, Fine! Just sign off on Jarad's rumplestilskin cause and your hot to trot.

Food For Thought

HOOLIO,

We have rules here about posting after imbibing in Baja Barbera. :wacko:

Mark

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  • 1 month later...

I heard from Ann today. Strawberry shortcake, mmmm.... In her own words:

"I thought I'd let you know that the bakery will stay open Thurs. and Friday Evenings until 7:00 p.m. offering lemon peppermint "lollipops" from the old days. People from Baltimore will remember enjoying them at the Flower Mart in the springtime. Of course, we'll offer our other goods, as well, except for the doughnuts. (we can't produce them at that time of day, the kitchen is too busy) Also, calling ahead can get a freshly baked biscuit perfect for strawberry shortcake.

And if it's on the menu, you should try the blueberry sour cream cup. Plus I'm getting some beautiful and delicious fruit right now."

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  • 4 weeks later...

I stopped by last night for my first lemon-peppermint lollipop. I was in a bad mood, but man those things are a pick me up!!! A big ol juicy lemon, a peppermint jammed in there, you squeeze, stick your face right down it, and starting sucking. Juicy juicy sharp acidity, totally refreshing! She even provides extra peppermints on the side in case you accidentally bite too hard (hmmm. good idea. :raz: ).. All this for a buck thirty-five?! Ann, you gotta be kidding me, I said. Lemons are $0.75. (Ok, actually Ann said that to me, not vice versa, but she's darn right).

It's been a slow summer at Amernick's, according to Ann. Go get yourselves a lolly while they last. Just don't attempt to imbibe white wine at Bardeo immediately afterwards, as I did. All you'll taste is LEMON.

Food is a convenient way for ordinary people to experience extraordinary pleasure, to live it up a bit.

-- William Grimes

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  • 2 weeks later...

At the last minute I was asked to pick up dessert for a dinner party last Friday. I thought of going to Reeves since it is right near my office, but, since it was still early I headed over to Amernick's. I got a wonderful selection of cookies -- the dark chocolate cookies are my new most favorite food in the world -- and caramels. Added some berries from Brookville and we had a great assortment enjoyed by all. What I was not prepared for was to be greated when I walked in the door with a friendly wave and a kind "please let me know if I can help you with anything" considering all the grouchiness detailed here. Maybe it was because I didn't order donoughts and I had proper change.

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