Monday, October 11, 2010

A Bad Day at Baobab Cafe (Wellington)


A dear friend of mine sent me an email the other day ranting and raving over the treatment Jessica, a buddy of hers got when lunching in Baobab Cafe a week or so ago. Having read it and growing understandably more grizzly with each sentence, I got in touch with Jessica to get the full story and here it is, straight from the horses (I use the word horse figuratively, of course) mouth:

I went into Baobab last Friday morning with my 7 month old daughter Ava to meet two friends from my Mothers Network Group and their daughters aged 4.5 months and 8 months. We grabbed a table and moved our buggies out of the way so they weren't blocking any of the other tables or the aisles. The owner immediately came up and said that as the cafe was small our buggies were rather a pain and could we move them outside. All three of us were using them at the time so clearly we couldn't and moved them well out of the way instead.

My daughter Ava started having a little cry so I picked her up, gave her a cuddle and put her dummy in. She cried for about 2 minutes and the owner came over again and the resulting conversation went something like this (not word for word of course, but you get the gist) ....
Owner: You're really going to have to leave. Your baby has been crying for ages and people are leaving because of you. Everyone is staring at you. If your baby is crying you need to take her out of the cafe. You can take her for a walk and come back if you want but you can't stay here, you're annoying the other patrons.
Me: We'll leave, but we won't be coming back... ever!
Owner: I have a baby too you know, but you can't just let them cry in a cafe. It's very irresponsible and it's causing the other people to leave. You need to take the baby away now.
Me: OK that's fine, you can stop now. You've said more than enough and we're leaving.
Owner: Irresponsible blah blah blah, annoying other patrons blah blah blah.

And so we left. On the way out I apologised to the two tables next to us for disturbing them and both said they hadn't been disturbed in the slightest! I was really upset and was in tears by the time we got outside, it was sad because I used to go there all the time and know the staff well who are all really lovely - they always said hello to Ava and she always had a smile for them! Good food, good coffee, good staff. Shame about the owner....

Needless to say, I most definitely won't be blessing them with my patronage. I understand the buggy thing, or would if they were blocking the way of passing waiters. I also understand the crying thing, but not when bubs has been crying for all of two minutes and it's not bothering the other patrons. 

Does this mean that when the woman at the table next to me is shrieking with laughter to the point my ears are bleeding I can complain and you'll ask her to leave? Or when the straggly haired hippies sitting outside puffing away on their fags are blowing their smoke through the doors and windows right into my face I can have a whinge and you'll ask them to get out? I think you'll find the answer is no.

Even if I asked, they wouldn't be shown the door. So why then, when no one even complains about an innocent crying baby is this Mama asked to leave? Unfair, I say, and unjust.

The worst thing is, Jessica (offended mother) left a wee note of displeasure on Baobab's Facebook page which was promptly deleted. Ashamed, much?

EDITOR'S NOTE: Miss Cait did a follow-up story on Baobab HERE in response to the feedback about this initial story. Good on you Miss Cait. And can we please use/leave a NAME when we give our opinion in future, rather than being ANONYMOUS. Thanks!

Baobab Cafe
152 Riddiford Street,
Newtown, Wellington


  1. What a let down. I hate having to find a new cafe when the one you had was great...all it takes is one bad experience tho eh

  2. Can't always believe everthing you hear, though! That Cafe is Damn Good.

  3. Hey Anonymous, want to give us your take on Baobab?? Maybe it's just not a kid-pace?

  4. I have taken my 18 month old to baobab for over a year now and have had nothing but considerate service from all the staff there. also, from my experience I've found our stroller takes up a large amount of space walking along the widest of footpaths or shopping ailse's, let alone a cafe. I just can't picture how you fit 3 strollers inside that cafe space "well out of the way" as you put it. Your account sounds somewhat embellished. Oh well, good luck finding another cafe thats kid friendly,has an outdoor sunny garden space, and has an enjoyable atmosphere near newtown

  5. Hey everyone who loves Baobab Cafe... if you think Baobab has been unfairly named and shamed, we'd love a story from someone telling us about good expereinces there... maybe this mum in the story came across someone havinmg a bad day at work?? We don't want to unfairly "bag" a cafe that's good... any takers??

  6. First of all Caitlin you spelt baobab wrong in the title.
    Baobab Cafe has a baby/child friendly policy, however it is up to the patron to take personal responsibility and have some (hopefully smart) discretion as to whether they should or should not take up limited floor space. Three prams in a tiny café!! Come on ladies…
    You cannot move three prams “well out of the way” at Baobab. There is simply not enough room.
    Newtown has a huge and varied range of eateries – Baobab is not the only place these women could have visited.
    A staff member who started his/her shift at 11am heard this baby crying when they arrived. At 11.20am the baby was still crying and had been continuously for the previous 20 minutes; this staff member mentioned it to the owner and wondered if something should be done.
    The owner, a mother herself, could not hear her customers’ orders, and some customers either moved outside or left the premises, possibly to avoid the noise. Furthermore, the owner was frustrated at the mother’s lack of response. She noted the mother did not pick up and comfort her baby all the while it had been in the café and crying.
    I would say the owner in this situation has been put under considerable pressure, and I feel sorry for her because whatever she does she is going to lose out. By leaving the pram women to do what they like she is ignoring her regular, loyal patrons and general business.
    Give the owner and Baobab Café a break people. They’re a local, community oriented business run by hardworking parents, not a multi-national corp that needs bagging out. Maybe the pram people can go down to Macdonalds next time. They have heaps more to let petty frustrations out on, and heaps more room!

  7. Spelling corrected now ... thanks for the heads up. The offer is still out there if somebody wants to write a story about how wonderful Baobab is... obviously there's lots of people who think so... PS when leaving comments can people please leave a name? Thanks :)

  8. I think this story came straight from a horses ass! Maybe you should go straight to the owner and get her side of the story...obviously these "ladies" have no life if they left crying over such a minor ordeal! Gossiping housewives should get a attention to their babies when in public! Baobbab is such a great cafe. Just what the community of Newtown needs esspecially thier new garden it huge and definatley child freindly!

  9. Well it looks like the people who LOVE Baobab outweigh those who don't. I'm just gonna have to go visit this place and see for myself who's right the next time I'm in Wellywood!

  10. So I'm not sure if all the 'Anonymous' posts are by the same person but really, no need to be so nasty - it does say "nice manners" in the comments box, after all!

    Yes, you're right, I should have asked the owner her side of the story but had already spoken to two other people there (one of them completely separate from the mothers in the story) and in all honesty, I'd heard so many hideous baby/cafe stories that I got fed up. But, I shouldn't have vented my frustration on this specific cafe alone.

    Perhaps I shouldn't have been so close-minded and feisty from the get go and I'm sorry for that. I've never been to Baobab and don't know the logistics of it so it's fair to say that I really should have "done my homework first", if you will.

    I apologise to anyone who I've offended, that wasn't my intent when I wrote this blog - I was simply passing on what I'd heard through friends of mine. Needless to say, I've learned my lesson and a) shan't grump and write, b) do my own research before putting fingers to keys and c) always remember from now on that there's two sides to every story.

    Apologies again x

    PS. It wasn't me who wrote the title, if there's anything I'm OCD about, it's spelling!

    PPS. Because I now feel like a total idiot for ranting and raving I'm headed down to Baobab first thing tomorrow to put this right. I'll order a coffee, sit with bubs and relish in the baby friendly limelight that you've all spoken of.

  11. Ummm... read this post and the one after and just have to say that we need to be NICE and have MANNERS when writing comments.
    Not to happy at how "anonymous" manages to hide behind anonymity and slags people off in his/ her comments.
    He/ she (not brave enough to leave a name!) got rude and personal and it's not on.
    Maybe we need to scratch the ability for people to leave comments without a name, Simoney?!?

  12. I'm with Sammy. That's not what this blog is about. There is always a nicer way to say something


  14. To be perfectly frank, I've been in there twice and been a little appalled at the attitude to service both times. I'm not asking for anything much - just that the counterperson will suspend her conversation with her friend for the time it takes for me to order a coffee. And I like to be looked at in the eye when I'm making a transaction. Neither of these things happened for me on my first visit.
    On my second visit, I waited long enough for attention, even though I was the only customer in the place apart from couterperson's friend, that I figured I should just leave.
    On the plus side, the coffee is okay. I didn't feel welcome enough to order food.

  15. Interesting, Ange. Thanks for sharing your experience! It's good to get all sorts of feedback on this one.


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