It took me quite some while to decide whether I should write about this culinary topic or not. In general, I try to keep it like Thumper - "If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all..." but unfortunately this won't change the situation in the first place and second, it's not recommended to hold back (constructive) criticism in order to assist to improve things. In case of Mugg & Bean at Bagatelle particularly it's already since a very long time that I'm saying nothin'...
Bright and shiny opening
Mugg & Bean isn't new to myself at all. I've been to M&B in South Africa several times and having the news that there'll be a franchise in Mauritius was very welcoming. Even though I skipped the opening period on purpose for various reasons I have to admit that the initial service, offerings and gusto was to my personal liking. Surely, a place to recommend among friends and family. We have been there on several occassions and the overall experience right at the beginning was positive. You know, this typical feel-good feeling after having had a nice meal and pleasant waitron service.
Where's light, there're shades
Unfortunately, M&B's lucky strike didn't last for long and personally I had the impression that the decline started as soon as the initial management and trainers from South Africa left the building, or better said flew back. The first disappointing visit happened for a lunch break together with my BWE and my dear mother. Well, you know lunch break, you'd like to go out and instead of grabbing a sandwich from the super market or picking some snacks from the merchants on the street, we decided to stop by at M&B to have a quick bite. Hm, talking a quick... it was only our patience that went away quickly. First of all, in an half-filled restaurant with many empty tables left we were seated but not asked for drinks. Finally, after roughly 20 minutes someone of the waitron staff remembered that new guests have arrived and brought us menu cards and asked for the drinks. It's not like we were hungry and eventually might have limited time for a lunch break but okay at least we a waitress now. The drinks were brought after another 20 minutes in, and then we were finally allowed to place our orders for food. Seriously? Round about 40 minutes just sitting there and waiting for soft drinks and/or juices? And obviously, we were not the only ones. A couple two tables next to us had to wait approximately 30 minutes for their drinks. Alright, as we were sitting nicely and had some topics to talk about we waited patiently for our dishes... Oh boy, you might have guessed it. Another 35 minutes later the first two plates were brought over, and then another 5 minutes later the missing third one. I won't go into the details but there were bits and pieces wrong and we couldn't be bothered because of being too hungry to argue. Besides having a second, more weird waiter which seemed to have a personal pleasure in terms of sneaking up on guests from behind repetitively, all three of us had probably the worst lunch ever. And to close that horrible lunch "experience" we had to wait another 25(!) minutes between asking for the check and finally being allowed to pay.
Regular location for meetings of MSCC and LUGM
Well, surely this lunch event must have been an exceptional experience you'd might argue. Hm, I wished it would have been... Let's talk a little bit about my involvement in local IT communities, namely Mauritius Software Craftsmanship Community (MSCC) and the Linux User Group of Mauritius/Meta (LUGM). We have this habit to organise little get-togethers of six to ten people and meet at an easy accessible location. Frankly, some love the bottomless caffee at Mugg & Bean and therefore we arranged quite a number of meetings over there. As the kids are with me on Saturdays I have to take care of their well-being and nutrition. Okay, the food selection even for children is quite tempting and after all it's about having a good time. Despite the business generated for the restaurant. Personally, I'm a fan of milk-shakes... and it would have been great that M&B would be able to deliver but quite frankly over a period of at least six (6!) months I was always told that the machine is broken and that milk-shakes cannot be served. Okay, I can understand that things break and it takes a little bit longer to get them fixed up here on this remote island but... more than six months? A well-known brand like Mugg & Bean? And the shakes are still offered according to their menu cards? Come on! Just put a blank sticker over drinks or meals you cannot serve...
But that's not all... choosing other drinks or menus randomly from the menu ended up in a simply answer by the waitress: "Sorry, it's not available". I finally gave up, and started to ask what's available today without even bothering to look at the card anymore. And despite the declining trend of drinks and dishes it became obvious that the standards of cleanliness followed the same trend. Guests had to leave the restaurant in order to lighten their pressure around the hips - for several weeks or even months because the rest room upstairs was in a bad state! Sitting near the big window panels with a view on the fountain outside revealed a disgusting observation of grease on the door panels in the cake and tart section. Cups, plates and cutlery usually had a stain from previous meals, too. And finally, one of our MSCC members got some extra nutrition in his pot of tea which submerged in his cup after pouring the final drops of green tea... boiled cockroach!
Not surprisingly, any meetups of both user groups were done at other locations in Bagatelle. And there are plenty of other blog articles and photos documenting on that one, too.
New management - maybe a fresh wind of service?
During the MSCC meetup on entrepreneurship back in August 2014 one of the attendees mentioned that he's very close to the current manager of Mugg & Bean and that the new person in charge would like to meet and listen to our previous experience. Alright, we agreed on a time and location somewhere else in Bagatelle and had a great conversation about the stories you just read in the previous paragraphs. Funny side-note: The M&B manager had a fidelity card from that other cafe. Which might tell you a lot actually...
Honestly, I didn't bother to follow up on any kind of improvements but only by listening to other MSCC craftsmen about their recent visits, gave me enough information that it wouldn't be worth to spend any further time at that place. Not now, not in the future.
Granting a wish...
... I guess that might be the only explanation why I finally agreed this morning to give it another shot. My BWE was already "chasing" me since weeks that she'd love to have a proper breakfast in the morning compared to the range of small bites at Vida e Caffe, also at Bagatelle. Since months, the weekly Code & Coffee meetings of the MSCC have been carried out at the little cafe opposite the Emtel showroom, and so far it had been always great. Even though the music might be too enthusiastic sometimes but the staff is always friendly and pays attention to their clients' demands.
Anyway, judgement day at Mugg & Bean... all those months I could convince my BWE that it wouldn't be an option to have a meal there anymore. I can't say what was the key aspect during the drive to Bagatelle but I accepted that we should give M&B another shot. Maybe things might have improved since last time. Okay, okay... let's give it a try.
Oh boy! What a fatal mistake!
Despite having six people from the waitron staff lurking around near the main entrance or the kitchen passage we didn't get that much attention. The kitchen was not yet ready... I mean, yeah, why would a breakfast place need to have a ready kitchen in the morning? Okay, let's wait for some 15 to 25 minutes then...
And let's see about the drinks? My BWE asked for a cup of regular black coffee... "Sorry, we don't have coffee right now". What? You have coffee-themed wallpapers all over the place and you cannot serve a simple cup of plain black coffee?
On the other hand, my first choice of drink from the menu... "Sorry, it's not available". What the flipping banana? Am I cursed in terms of food selections? And no it wasn't a milk-shake! That would have been a good choice as they somehow managed to fix their shake machine. Luckily, ordering our morning dishes wasn't an obstacle at all, just waiting... and waiting...
I didn't run a stop-watch but roughly after 45 to 50 minutes later we got our food, well partly. The South African Farm breakfast with additional Beef Strips came first, not my choice and some minutes later I was finally served with a portion of Mexican Scrambles and an additional portion of Country Fries. The beef was not seasoned and tasted blunt after all, the fries had tepid temperature rather than being hot, and taking into consideration that the scrambled eggs might have been put into an oven or microwave judging on the amount of liquid in the small gratin bowl. Honestly, disgusting look and even more horrible taste!
Mugg & Bean world-wide - No, thank you!
Seriously, it is not my intention to blackmail a brand with this posting but frankly speaking after all those months of continuous negative experience at Mugg & Bean in Bagatelle, I won't have another meal for a very long time in one of their branches. No matter where it is located. And believe me, Mugg & Bean isn't the first franchise I completely ditched for more than a decade. McDonalds' back in Germany had (and still have) that bad habit of putting too much salt on their french fries. And so, I went to spent my money somewhere else.
Please share your experience with either Mugg & Bean (Bagatelle or somewhere else) or other food places. Thanks!