Friday, November 14, 2008
The Kneaders Phenomenon
I hate Kneaders. Let's make that clear right up front. I wish them nothing but ill. And now I'll try to explain why. I've been to Kneader's a few times, and each time I swear I'm never going back. The last time I went was for the pancakes. I didn't want to go, but my brother and I had just finished doing a triathlon and he desperately wanted to try it. We showed up at 10:50 and ordered the pancakes. It was later that we found out that it ended at 11:00. When I stepped up for a reorder at 11:02, I was informed that they already made last call and wouldn't make more. The thing is, last call was apparently somebody in the back mentioning to a co-worker that it was almost 11:00. No offer to make it better, no alternatives. Not even a thanks for coming in. Just a smug comment that it ended at 11:00. I didn't even protest. If there's one thing I've learned from going to Kneader's is that they don't care whether you come back or not. And I'm not sure why. As far as dining experiences go, I think that you need to have at least two of the following things going for you: price, uniqueness of food, speed, service/atmosphere, and quality. There are times that Wendy's fits the bill - it's quick and it's cheap despite lacking in the rest of the categories. For me, Kneaders doesn't really meet any of these qualities. First off, it's expensive for a sandwich place. As far as uniqueness goes, let's face it. It's not that hard to find a place that will put turkey and avocado on expensive bread - Quizno's and Paradise Bakery come to mind. Often, the speed is a joke. Apparently the wannabe Abercrombie and Fitch models they have in back putting the stuff together haven't figure out how to efficiently put meat, cheese, veggies, and sauce between two pieces of bread. This despite the fact that Kneader's only offers pre-formulated combinations. Maybe its the combination of the frustration of having to do such a difficult task combined with the chore of having to simultaneously compete in a flexing contest while keeping their hair perfect that makes the added chore of actually providing a modicum of customer service impossible. I mean, that's a burden that no suburban teenager can be expected to bear. As a result, getting a sandwich is going to cost as much and take as long as if you actually had a meal prepared by someone with some culinary skill. The nice thing is, you get to eat it in a Thai Pan inspired, living-room styled dining area - plenty of busy, kitschy decorations. For some reason, the combination of overpriced bread, tacky decor, and awful service keeps the place packed. I guess their target demographic, whoever that is, feels that if its overpriced it must be quality; that if they're always slow that it must be worth the wait; and that if the service sucks that everything else must somehow make up for it. I don't get it. And I'm not going back.