I met a friend yesterday morning for breakfast. We agreed on 8 AM and I arrived at the popular Via Quadronno a bit early, at 7:50, where I learned from the sign on the door that the restaurant opens on weekdays at 8 AM. It was cold and windy so since there was no other place close by in the neighborhood to get warm for ten minutes, I simply stood at the door and read my newspaper, shivering but managing.
Via Quadronno employees were milling about in the place, getting ready for the day. I can appreciate the fact that even though it was cold outside they did not want to have to deal with customers while they were getting prepared. (Note, however, that if this scenario were taking place in my home town in Wisconsin, there is no question--none--that the employees would have welcomed me in out of the cold, told me to sit down for a few minutes while they made their final prep for the day. Heck, now that I say this, it is likely they would have given me a cup of coffee to warm up. But this was not Wisconsin.) So I waited patiently, for a while.
When it became 8 AM, however, I was not so patient. I gestured to employees inside who were still walking around, some as close as 3 feet from the door, but they literally looked through me, ignoring my gestures. Other customers showed up. Finally there were five of us when an employee walked slowly to the door and opened it, at 8:08 AM. No response to the questions from the five of us as to why they had not opened on time.
My friend arrived a minute later and after our breakfast, she left quickly for another appointment. That gave me time to mention the earlier incident to the waiter who took care of our table. "Yeah, sorry about that" was the reply. I told him I just noticed that their wall clock was woefully out of sync (about ten minutes) with the correct time in which case I was inclined to give them some slack even though I had been seething by the time they opened the door. But he was unapologetic, not even acknowledging that they needed to reset their clock. Nor did he comment on what seemed to be simple rudeness in the failure of the staff to even acknowledge the presence of customers at the door.
It was not a great morning conversation. It was not the New York I love. Via Quadronno is high on the list of favorites in its Upper East Side neighborhood. As for me and the others who waited in the cold with me? Not so much.