ANOTHER UPDATE: I recieved the following email from Cafe Rouge, in response to my contact:
Thank you for your feedback regarding our large print menu.
As I’m sure you are aware Café Rouge has recently undergone some changes to our classic menu to introduce some new dishes, unfortunately our large print menus are yet to be updated to incorporate these changes. However, after speaking with our marketing department they have informed me that the new large print menus have been posted out to our restaurants and will be available for use as soon as possible. I have also requested a copy of this menu to be sent to me via email, if you would like for me to send this on to you please let me know.
I would also like to offer my sincere apologies for the poor service you received from your waitress. At Café Rouge we expect all staff to be polite, helpful, friendly and courteous at all times, and were naturally concerned that you felt the service received fell short of this. Exceptional service is an integral part of the dining experience; therefore, we have been working closely with our restaurant personnel who will implement further training to ensure our staff improve their customer service and communication skills.
We are always pleased to hear from our customers with their views and observations on their dining experience. As a service industry operating in a competitive environment we are aware of the importance of customers’ comments adverse or otherwise. We do hope that your most recent experience will not prevent your from dining with us in future.
Call me cynical, but I feel like they are just not getting it. No mention of the fact this is fourth or fifth time I’ve raised this, no acknowledgement of the fact that they hadn’t added the omitted sections, which I brought to their attention months ago. And most of all, WHY is it an afterthought to get the large print menus reprinted?? The regular menus are pretty, professionally printed and would have taken time to design and have printed. The large print ones are basic black type on white paper, and spiral bound- WHY aren’t they done at the same time?!! Why do we always have to be an afterthought, an optional extra??
I feel like I’m banging my head against a brick wall with this one, and I actually don’t know how to get them to understand the issues. It would be so easy to get this right!
If anyone has any ideas as to how to get the message through to them, please let me know!
UPDATE: JUNE 2012:
In which Cafe Rouge are at it again…
I again visited Cafe Rouge’s Sheffield branch this week. I was pleased to note that when I asked for the large print menu, it was provided quickly, and they obviously knew where it was.
On looking at it though, I could see that they had failed to take on board my previous feedback– the missing sections are still missing. No Aperitif for the visually impaired person!
As my party discussed what we were going to have to eat, we discovered, by chance, a larger problem. The dish I had chosen from the large print menu did not appear on the standard menu. In fact, a couple of things didn’t. And some dishes on the regular menu were not listed on the large print version…
Yes, once again, Cafe Rouge has changed their glossy, prettily presented menu, but failed to update the large print version!
When I pointed this out to the waitress, the reply was “Yes, I know, but there’s only a few things different”! *rolls eyes*
As one of my friends on Twitter pointed out, they are really not getting it, are they??!
So, yet again, I am updating this blog and emailing Cafe Rouge- the most inaccessible accessible restaurant.
UPDATE: MARCH 2012
Apologies that this update is so overdue, there have been some technical gremlins here at Pesky People, and I’ve been unwell recently.
Following my email to Cafe Rouge about my experiences in September, I received a reply from their Regional Manager, Clare Oelowska (copied here with her permission, contact details removed0:
I am sorry to hear of your continuing disappointing treatment at our restaurants. This is unacceptable and I am appalled that this has continued to happen, I apologise.
As you have previously been made aware we have procedures in place to help with this, our training course in particular and still you have been failed.
I have now taken charge of the situation and have been in contact with those restaurants concerned to ensure this does not happen again. I have also contacted all of our restaurants to make them aware of this failing in our service and ensuring all restaurants have large print menus available.
I hope you can forgive this further error and give us another chance, I promise that we will not disappoint you this time. Please let me know which restaurant is most suitable for you to return to and on which date and I will book you and your friend in for a complimentary meal
My apologies once again
Regional Manager Cafe Rouge
I was really pleased with their response, as it seems like they are taking the issue seriously, and have raised this with all branches, not just the branches involved.
I returned to the Sheffield branch of Cafe Rouge in November for my complimentary meal. The large print menu was ready and waiting and the staff were extremely helpful and polite.
My only feedback is that the large print menu was missing 3 sections of the regular menu: the Aperitifs, Plats du Jour, and a thrid section, which I think was one of the drinks sections, but the precise one eludes me at this second. This is clearly just an oversight, and would be very easy to put right.
I’ll be emailing Clare the link to this blog update shortly.
It’s good to see Cafe Rouge taking their customer feedback and their legal obligations seriously. Another demonstration that raising these issues really can help improve things
UPDATE: SEPTEMBER 2011:
The story so far…. If you’ve read the original post (below), you’ll know that Cafe Rouge claim to offer a large print menu. However, it seems that obtaining access to this is no mean feat. Earlier this year, I contacted Cafe Rouge about the Sheffield St Pauls branch’s insistence that they no longer had a large print menu. I duly received an email from the Area Manager, stating that they do, and they had no idea why this branch had been missed in the distribution. They promised to ensure the branch had the large print menu, to retrain the staff at that branch on disability awareness, and offered me a free meal, which I enjoyed. Shortly after this, I visited the York branch, where a staff member absolutely insisted that no large print menu was offered by the chain. It was eventually located, at my insistence that it did exist! I emailed the same area manager about this, and explained that it was really no use having a reasonable adjustment, if their staff were completely unaware of it. That email never received a response.
Bringing you up to date….This brings me to 11th September, when I again visited Cafe Rouge. We were served by the same waiter who served us for our complimentary meal, and he obviously remembered us. When I requested the large print menu, he said “ah, of course!” and rushed off to get it. He returned some time later, to tell me they were very sorry, but it was lost!! He was very apologetic, and suggested that perhaps one of the people I was eating with could help me with the menu. As well as a lack of interest regarding accessibility issues, this highlights another issue for me: they only have one large print menu! ONE!! Heaven forbid that more than one party containing a visually impaired customer visit the restaurant at once! Or even, that I, as a visually impaired customer, might have visually impaired friends, with whom I may want to eat out (I do, in fact, and have previously been to this restaurant with one said visually impaired friend. Won’t be doing that again in a hurry).
So, it seems Cafe Rouge learned nothing from my previous feedback *sigh*. Not only is the large print menu secret, it is also now a lost treasure. Maybe I should get Indiana Jones on the case…anyone have his number?
Just to make a bad situation worse, as I was painstakingly and labouriously using a low vision aid to look at the menu, it seemed I was taking too long. The same waiter commented “Come on ladies, you’ve been here often enough, you must know what’s on the menu by now!”. He’s very nice, and I truly believe he said this in a friendly way, trying to bring levity to the situation, albeit in a completely misguided fashion.
So, I am about to contact Cafe Rouge again, to submit further feedback. I shall also be linking to this blog.
I’ll keep you posted!!
Cafe Rouge is a chain of restaurants, offering French inspired cuisine in a relaxed and family friendly atmosphere. They often do good voucher deals, and accept Tesco Clubcard Vouchers, so I’ve eaten there a fair bit. I also really like that they offer a large print menu; it means I can relax, without having to get others to read things aloud, or struggle with magnifiers in poor (“atmospheric”) lighting.
A couple of months back, I visited Cafe Rouge’s central Sheffield location. I asked for the large print menu. I was told that they’d only just changed their menu, and didn’t have a large print copy. I might have accepted this, were it not for the fact that 2 months previously, I’d visited the same branch and been given the same story (on that occasion, the member of staff had, most embarrassingly, insisted on standing and reading the entire menu to me loudly, despite my insistence that my companions would help me).
I was upset, and felt this was a real shame. Providing a paper large print copy of a menu, is, in my book, a very reasonable adjustment to expect. The cost and difficulty to the business is minimal, especially with a chain this size, and furthermore, they’d already proven over a number of years that they were capable of providing this, so why suddenly stop?
I decided to cut my losses for the evening, and enjoy my meal, rather than starting to quote equality legislation (it does get wearing sometimes!), so, instead I submitted feedback via their website.
After some time, I recieved a very nice email from an area manager. She assured me that all branches should have a large print menu, and she was unable to say why Sheffield had been missed when these were distributed. She thanked me for bringing it to her attention and assured me this would be rectified. She said all staff at that branch would have refresher disability awareness, and the branch manager would like to offer me and a guest a free meal to thank me for my time and feedback. She also said they’d send me my own personal copy of the large print menu, for my own reference, if I provided my address! (I was a little bewildered by this, and didn’t take them up on their kind offer).
I followed the instructions to book my complimentary meal, and, on the day, the staff were all prepared with the large print menu. In fact, they were so prepared, someone was still looking for it, while someone else had already given it to me with due haste!! I enjoyed their hospitality, resisted the urge to order expensive wine and left a good tip. (Unfortunately, our waiter’s shift finished while we were eating and he forgot to pass on the message the meal was to be comped, so we were given a bill. Oops! Never mind, that was easily rectified.)
I was very happy with how my feedback had been dealt with and hoped the extra training would raise the needs of customers with disabilities in the staff’s minds, as well as prompt more senior staff to ensure reasonable adjustments were actually in place, rather than just planned.
Around two weeks later, I went to a Cafe Rouge in York. I asked for the large print menu. Our waitress replied, with great confidence “we don’t have one”. I patiently explained that all Cafe Rouge branches offered a large print menu. She again replied, with absolute certainty, “we don’t offer that”. I explained that I had an email from the area manager, who had informed me all branches did indeed have it. I asked our waitress (politely) to go to talk to the duty manager and locate the large print menu. After some time and some searching of cupboards, it was located.
I emailed the area manager back with my experiences at York. She never replied.
I’m writing this blog post because I think it’s such a shame when accessibility falls at the last hurdle. Cafe Rouge obviously recognise the need for a large print menu, and have produced one. Unfortunately, this is no use if their staff have no idea it exists!! It’s not accessible if it’s secret people!!
Also, I am really really *sick* of having to be stroppy and difficult, sorry, assertive, when it comes to these matters. Had I not *known* for certain the large print menu existed, and had I not also insisted that it was looked for, I would’ve struggled. When is accessibility not accessible??!