A few weeks ago, I wandered into the Clayburn Gourmet Gallery, slightly more than 90 minutes before closing time on a Saturday. I had some work to do, and was looking forward to taking over one of their big rustic tables with a cup of tea. The table is a larger draw than the tea: I bring my own tea bags because this place only offers Stash Tea*.
So there I am, basically willing to pay tea prices for a cup of boiling water, in exchange for a nice place to do my reading.
Instead I find all chairs already up on the tables, aside from the chairs where two patrons are chatting. I ask the barrista if the place is closing but she assures me that they are not. I ask permission to take down a chair.
The food display is dying a slow death, filled to around one-third capacity.
A sign taped to the cash register warns patrons that when there is only one staff member on shift, the service will be slower.
I force myself to forge onward, buy the water, and get to work establishing my space. Sigh.
Around 15 minutes before closing, I am reminded by the staffer of the closing time. The unwelcoming vibe (which has now been replicated in the person of the lurking and intense new owner of the Parallel Marketplace location of The Wired Monk) is palpable. It feels as if the goal is for the Gourmet Gallery staffer to have her key in her car’s ignition at 5:01.
Everything in the place screamed scarcity and desperation.
Pity, as it’s such a cute room, and they have a virtual monopoly on the geography.
*As a tea footnote, the man who developed the Tazo tea line sold it to Starbucks, then went on to develop Stash. After selling his second successful tea brand in Stash, he took off to Paris, where he intended to retire and relax. But he couldn’t stay away from tea. Inspired by the Parisian perfumeries, he returned to Portland and started the most superior of his tea companies, Smithtea. Occasionally Chapters carries selections, but it can be ordered online anytime! Check it out! I could BATHE in the stuff.