Sunday, August 31, 2008
An open letter to Moonstruck Chocolate Company
To whom it may concern:
My husband and I have been going to your cafes almost weekly since 2004. We frequently brag about your desserts, coffees, and propensity to play jazz music and Frank Sinatra; we ship your chocolate bars to my siblings and parents; we bring our out-of-town friends to the cafe, etc. You get the point.
Imagine my shock when I met a friend for coffee at one of your Portland metro area cafes last week and saw your "new" desserts. Gone was the delicious peanut butter cheesecake, brownies, and otherwise yummy and reasonably priced desserts (oh yes - I forgot the chocolate pyramid.)
In their place were skimpy, wilting things that may have once been chocolate, for about twice the price. I mean, it was laughable. One of them was literally the size of a Kit-Kat (or more exactly, one of the Kit-Kat bars) for nearly $5; instead of the lemon tart there was the slice of one, again for about twice the price of the original dessert.
Like any reasonable person, I find the characteristics of skimpy and wilting undesirable in both men and dessert. Surely you agree?
Mind you, I am not a dessert hog. I am not one of those people who thinks super-sized portions are a good idea. But I do expect to have more than three forkfuls if I'm forking over $5 for a dessert.
Then I looked up to see that the menu was redone. The biscotti and chocolate-dipped cookies were gone. So was the jazz music, which my friend and I were informed you
no longer allow.
After I exclaimed something along the lines of, "What the hell?" a kind barista gave us the skinny on why the desserts had gotten skinny.
Apparently, a new marketing person at your corporate HQ in Portland, a guy sans people skills, has decided that while Moonstruck cafes were already making money, you needed to make more. He apparently also decided that you need to use the "Starbucks model."
A tip for the uninitiated: Starbucks closed 600 stores recently because they were losing money. They woke up to the fact that they needed more, not less, of a good thing.
Furthermore, people like me have been loyal Moonstruck customers because it's a local, unique place - not because it's a copycat rendition of a chain coffee place. Why would I drive across town to go have a Starbucks experience when I can drive down the street instead? Just because it says Moonstruck?
"Buy local!" you yell. What happens when local starts sucking?
So now what happens? According to the barista we spoke with, enough people have made noise that the manager has taped a card with the corporate phone number and e-mail address to the cash register, so irritated folks like myself can call and/or write.
Like any business that gets more corporate, you probably won't listen.
And you'll lose customers.
And then the usual suspects - "the market getting oversaturated," "the economy," etc. will proverbally get blamed, and your gracious employees will lose their jobs.
But perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps, like me, you won't settle for skimpy and wilty in men or chocolate, and don't think Moonstruck customers should have to, either. Maybe Mr. Sans Personality, who probably got his job because of nepotism, will get a swift kick in the ass and go back to his trust fund. Maybe Moonstruck will once again be the unique, fun, yummy place my husband and I will take friends for birthdays and other occasions.
Until then, I'm going to go elsewhere, where the dessert is less corporate and more robust.
PS I really did send this to Moonstruck. You can, too! E-mail them at email@example.com. Or call them at 503-247-3448.