Brent Ozar on September 20th, 2008 at 2:22 pm #
While he’s at it, why not remove the tables so people can’t lay out newspapers? In fact, why not just remove the chairs? Heck, turn it into a drive-through. Nobody walks to Catalina anyway. Ugh. I’m over that place.
Cortney Martin on September 20th, 2008 at 2:38 pm #
Great post, Sean. I appreciate that you spoke up on behalf of the customers, and can’t believe the kind of response you got.
When Ike is fully a thing of the past and people have a wider variety of coffee shops from which to choose, there won’t be any reason for people to choose Catalina – apart from good coffee, and honestly, coffee elsewhere is “good enough.”
Jamie on September 20th, 2008 at 2:57 pm #
This is pretty surprising to learn about. I am hoping that this is more a case of Max acting out his post-Ike mental breakdown (we’re all having these, right?) rather than a true permanent solution he intends to enforce from here on out.
I love Catalina! Only been there twice so far, but am hoping to go back very soon. And right, your Catalina tweets are the main reason I ever checked it out in the first place. Max just needs to stick with decaf for a while and I’m sure he’ll be fine. Or something.
Marla on September 20th, 2008 at 3:55 pm #
ewww, this is so not good. Sounds like he has been taking pointers from the folks over at Brasil.
I have only been to Catalina once, and since his attitude sounds so close to that other jackass at Brasil, then count me out.
Good post, thanks for sharing.
Jeremey Barrett on September 21st, 2008 at 6:05 am #
As Sean said, Max is very serious about his craft and about what he wants from his shop, to the point that he has reduced his menu and eliminated “commonly popular” items that didn’t fit his vision. If he doesn’t want people camping longer than their batteries will allow, that’s up to him. I’m not going to go elsewhere for coffee because I can’t plug in. Having said that, I think he’d get a lot more people on his side by explaining and educating rather than being abrasive and offended. But I think I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt re: the attitude and chalk it up (at least somewhat) to post-Ike stress.
The coffee at Catalina blows away anything else in the city so far, and that’s why I go.
Maybe Max will be approachable when things die down, if there’s a good alternative that solves his problem and is better for customers. But even if not, I don’t plan to seek coffee anywhere else.
John Little on September 21st, 2008 at 11:47 am #
I don’t support business owners who treat their customers this way.
There’s plenty of good coffee in this town and some of it is served by establishments that go out of their way to support their customers and neighborhoods. I’m more than happy to buy my coffee from them.
KC on September 21st, 2008 at 11:56 am #
I suspect it was the sorry behavior of unruly people wanting to plug in their computers that caused this.
Brent Ozar on September 21st, 2008 at 12:49 pm #
KC – I can vouch that it wasn’t the “sorry behavior of unruly people wanting to plug in their computers that caused this.” The morning before they covered up the outlets, I was there with my laptop. I bought two cappuccinos in a row, and right after I bought the second one, the staff announced that they were shutting off the WiFi to get people to leave. I looked around, and there were at least half a dozen empty seats with power adapters, and only one person in line for drinks. They weren’t shutting off WiFi because they HAD to – they were doing it because they WANTED to. I would have supported them if they were out of seats for paying customers, but that just wasn’t the case. They are on a power trip – or a shut-off-the-power trip, I suppose.
Catalina Coffee Doesn’t Care About Its Customers « she eats. on September 21st, 2008 at 12:53 pm #
[...] are dealing with at home.Â I’ll allow Sean Stoner to explain in his own words, as he did in a blog post yesterdayÂ (emphasisÂ is mine): As many of my followers know, Catalina Coffee is one of my favorite coffee [...]
laanba on September 21st, 2008 at 2:07 pm #
I can’t believe a business would act like this in the middle of an emergency. I’m still without Internet and will be venturing out later today, but now Catalina that was at the top of my list is off my list. They say you find out about people when the chips are down. I guess that is very true in this case.
Ben on September 21st, 2008 at 2:30 pm #
“I told him that wasnâ€™t an acceptable solution”
Grow up and get over it dude, the Hurricane doesn’t give you the right to be an jerk. You were way out of line.
Fayza on September 21st, 2008 at 2:55 pm #
I’ll be at Antidote, if you need me. It’ll be like Catalina doesn’t even exist! Wow, that won’t be hard, considering there are so many alternatives in Houston. Nice knowing you, Catalina!
Jerri on September 21st, 2008 at 3:29 pm #
I went to Catalina today to see for myself. I see why this is frustrating and it does seem like Max is being insensitive in a time of crisis. There are two sides to every story though and I have a feeling Max was feeling taken advantage of and doing what he though was best at the time. I like Catalina and don’t want to boycott the best coffee house in Houston because of this incident. I hope in time a reasonable explanation will come forth.
Ben LaGrone on September 21st, 2008 at 6:17 pm #
I try really hard to teach my young daughter to share, but then again I also teach her not to cry like a little baby when some one won’t share with her.
your sense of entitlement is distorted and repugnant.
I hope you don’t ever show your mean-spirited and cowardly face at Catalina again, you’d make my latte curdle.
Jeremey Barrett on September 21st, 2008 at 6:44 pm #
@Jerri exactly. I think you guys are blowing this out of proportion and being stubborn and unforgiving, which is pretty much the very thing you’re complaining about. Obviously you have to make up your own minds, but the “Ike stress factor” goes both ways. If you expect Max to cut everyone some slack due to Ike, maybe consider doing the same for him.
Brent Ozar on September 21st, 2008 at 7:10 pm #
Ben – we did take our sense of entitlement elsewhere. I’m typing this from Coffee Groundz in midtown, and hilariously, Sean just walked in! I’m not a cheerleader for any particular business, but the people at Groundz not only have outlets all over the place, but they advertise how friendly they are to remote workers.
Your comment talks about “mooching off electricity” – but note that Max didn’t say anything about that to either Sean or me. In both cases, he just wanted customers out. He got his wish.
Jeremey Barrett on September 21st, 2008 at 7:15 pm #
@Brent Coffee Groundz is a good spot for working, but I would still drive over to Catalina for coffee. It’s a shame what passes for coffee at most places.
Brent Ozar on September 21st, 2008 at 7:17 pm #
@Jeremey you’re totally right – Max’s coffee is an eye-opener in more ways than one. I would go there when I want coffee and I don’t have my laptop with me, but that’s pretty rare….
Sean on September 21st, 2008 at 7:34 pm #
@Ben – Wow. That is about all I can muster from your comments. They distort the facts and are so presumptuous they’re laughable. I wasn’t leeching off anything at all. I ordered my latte when I walked in, as always. I’m certain I’m in Catalina’s top quartile of spending customers if not higher. Ask Max. I’ve been ridiculously loyal as a customer. I’ve referred tons of new business to Catalina using my sphere of influence. I’ve spent lots of money there. I’m not trying to hurt Max’s business at all. I’m trying to address a much larger issue, which has apparently been lost on you. Mayor White called upon us as citizens to reach out to neighbors and help in any way they can. Companies like Panera bread were even so proactive about their community participation they encouraged people to come and “leech” their electricity to charge phones, laptops and otherwise use their facilities to reach out to loved ones and conduct their affairs even if they didn’t spend a single dime.
This was a huge win-win opportunity that Max had to do something for the greater good and gain a huge new loyal base of customers, and it was squandered. I’ve found it’s very important to check your ego at the door as an entrepreneur and pull the occasional stick out of your ass. If Max wants to serve coffee for his buddies, then he could do that a lot cheaper at home.
To address your first comment, my exact words were, “that’s unacceptable.” There wasn’t anything out of line about it. Your abundant use of pejorative labels like “cowardly” and “repugnant” and talk about growing up and all that inane nonsense only indicates that you should probably look in a mirror sometime. I was trying to have a balanced, honest discussion about a larger issue and waxed high praise on Max with every opportunity; this wasn’t intended to be a troll post by any stretch nor make it a bigger issue than it is. It seems you’ve got that job covered enough for both of us.
Bobby Warren on September 21st, 2008 at 7:52 pm #
I, too, am amazed at the responses of the few who find Sean’s post to somehow embody some wrongful sense of entitlement. He clearly sought to give Max the benefit of the doubt, only to have that doubt dashed when Max made it clear that his customers are an afterthought.
As a small business owner myself, I would be out of business if I treated my clients in such a manner. Perhaps Catalina’s reputation for great coffee affords Max the ability to act in such a way, but I think that will only last so long.
Ultimately, without a loyal base of customers, his business will suffer. I don’t see his attitude lasting long when brought to light by Sean and others.
Scott Dalferes on September 21st, 2008 at 8:11 pm #
“Iâ€™ve referred tons of new business to Catalina using my sphere of influence” it’s true – the only reason I went there for coffee is because I saw you went there so often.
myra on September 21st, 2008 at 9:42 pm #
I also witnessed this first hand on two occasions after Ike. The staff was annoyed at all the people taking up the outlets and tables and it showed in their attitude. It was bad experience all around. Definitely disappointing since I am a pretty regular customer and live a few minutes away.
Catalina could have used this as an opportunity to earn a lot of good will from a community that needed a little help. People remember good will. People will remember places that were a refuge for them during a very stressful/trying time. People will reward such businesses with long term loyalty.
It hurt me to see the Catalina staff act SO offended at (paying) customers who needed a little internet access. This will definitely make me consider the other options in town.
Ben LaGrone on September 21st, 2008 at 10:31 pm #
Yeah right; Everyone should “give according their ability and receive according to their needs”
Sean, your entry could have been written by Ellsworth M. Toohey himself.
andy rand on September 22nd, 2008 at 3:21 am #
Max Gonzalez on September 22nd, 2008 at 8:50 am #
“Are you fucking kidding me?”, yes it’s true that those were the words I used, I even went on to say a few more expletives that Sean omitted. The quotes weren’t all exact, but mainly on target.
We provided free wi-fi and electricty for anyone and everyone (after making the decision to cap the plugs, we set up charging stations in front of the cafe where the wi-fi signal is still strong, oh and by the way, some jerk stole one of our power strips).
For anyone that did not have money, we gave them coffee any way.
Our bakery has not been able to resume operations, so we have no pastries. I provided anyone that was desperately hungry with granola bars and water (for free)
I worked as hard as I could to take care of peoples needs, and quite honestly my feet are a bit numb from standing for so many hours. Those of you who know me, know that I work as hard, if not harder than any one of my employees. I guess it is easy to over look all the good that people do and definitely more entertaining to criticize them. You can have what ever opinion you want of me, but I have one question for everyone. What did you do to help your community?
The way people are acting, you would think we got hit by a hurricane or something.
We still have free wi-fi and electricity for anyone who wants it. If you have an extra power strip we are short one.
Jeremey Barrett on September 22nd, 2008 at 9:04 am #
Max, thanks for setting the record straight!
Catalina Responds « she eats. on September 22nd, 2008 at 9:22 am #
[...] You can read the rest of the comment here. [...]
Sean on September 22nd, 2008 at 9:41 am #
Max, thanks for weighing in here and bringing attention to your position and letting readers and me know the outstanding actions you took for the community in the wake of the storm. To be perfectly honest, I was surprised at the amount of feedback and readers this post garnered; it goes to show how people are very serious about their coffee! This is just my own personal soap box where I rant about things that piss me off. It is certainly not “The New York Banner.” I suppose the response demonstrates the power of social media. It is my sincerest hope that this blog post started a public conversation that gave customers some room to vent, and consequently a place for you to address those concerns out in the open. I believe this a better venue than simply me venting privately to friends and feeling slighted and never giving you the chance to reciprocate.
To my readers, I hope past customers welcome Max’s response and go back. Take your friends. To people thinking about trying Catalina for the first time, please go check it out and enjoy the finest cup of coffee you have ever had. This is especially true of milk beverages such as lattes; you will be wondering after the first sip how you have been tolerating the crap they serve at Starbucks and other coffee shops. There is no hyperbole here – It really is that much better.
Ben, while I thought your Toohey reference was clever, you can see nothing can be further from the truth.
Dan on September 22nd, 2008 at 10:37 am #
The unexpectedly large number of comments is just more evidence of how anything posted on the Internet is NOT private.
And, I cannot resist observing that this episode appears to be a fine example of people slipping down Maslow’s pyramid in times of stress.
Ben LaGrone on September 22nd, 2008 at 11:11 am #
I wouldn’t have felt the need to comment, but this post was being activelly promoted in social networking sites. I think it’s unfortunate, Sean that you could have spoken to Max about this in person, but instead it appears to me you chose the route of character asssassination and libel. and it’s not as if the post was left to linger in obscurity, it was being promoted.
I’m happy though, that Max had the opportunity to defend himself. This guy works hard to provide a high level of product and service and it appears you guys treated him like a “common carrier”.
I don’t want to keep arguing on the internet, because as we all know it’s like competing in the Special Olympics, even if you win, you’re still retarded.
I’d be happy to carry the conversation on in person with anyone.
Sean on September 22nd, 2008 at 11:31 am #
Agreed on putting issue to rest. However I did not assassinate anyone’s character nor was libelous in any way whatsoever. Ultimately I believe this will result in increased business and new loyal customers at Catalina. That is a good thing.
Ben LaGrone on September 22nd, 2008 at 12:02 pm #
Thanks for allowing a forum for people to offer dissenting points of view.
Mary on September 22nd, 2008 at 2:45 pm #
Now, if you all could spend this much energy powering up my home, I think it would be much more productive.
Albert on September 22nd, 2008 at 3:55 pm #
Interesting. Two totally different takes on what happened. Is Max sincere, or is this damage control done after the fact? Anyone else have any personal experience with what happened?
Crystal on September 22nd, 2008 at 5:26 pm #
Haha.. wow. That was dramalicious.
Anyways, here was my experience yesterday.
Farrah (friend from yelp.com) referred me to Catalina saying that it was usually pretty quiet and had free wifi. Score! And seeing how I had driven around the Trose aimlessly finding that place after place was either closed or packed (Inversion closed, Agora packed) I opted to try Catalina out.
To be honest, I don’t even drink coffee so i wasn’t interested in that. I wanted something to eat, and something to drink, and a place to get some studying done. I was so sad when I noticed that there was no food. I think I even asked a couple times over like,”really? you don’t have anything?” and the chick behind the counter was a little short with me in responding “NO”. But whatever, I understand they were probably overwhelmed. So I got a Chai Latte and sat down to do some work. BTW, I never even tried to plug in, laptop was charged and I didn’t need to use it for very long, so no prob there.
Anyhoo, some guy came up to me (must of been Max) and said he had a granola bar for the desperately hungry. He made my freaking day. I was starved! I thought that was awesome and I even thanked him on the way out. Yay Max for that. Until they give me a reason not to come back, I’ll go again.
Oh and he asked me which flavor granola bar I wanted (he had original and peanut butter), I said it didn’t matter and he gave me the peanut butter. I secretly wanted the peanut butter, so Kudos. =)
@labanjohnson on September 22nd, 2008 at 6:06 pm #
My first thought when I read Sean’s original post was I wonder if thats how it happened, and whats the other side of the story? There are two sides of course to each story. I think it is always appropriate for anyone to express their opinions and feelings, my grandfather and probably yours fought for these freedoms. I am also glad that Max was able to chime in and answer, and as long as people read the entire story they’ll enjoy the happy ending. Practically everyone in Houston was at their wits end at the point in time. Fatigue and espresso often == snappy! Anyway, some argue that any publicity is good publicity, and I think Max’s response was highly effective. Kudos all around. Time for coffee.
Morgan on September 22nd, 2008 at 10:03 pm #
As a former worker in the service industry I know there are a lot of idiot customers out there. I can only imagine how many of them stayed in Houston and set up camp in any place with power and a chair with a $1.25 house coffee for 4 hours of blogging.
Christine on September 23rd, 2008 at 8:37 am #
“With so many people overwhelming my facility it began losing itâ€™s functionality and we began losing our cool.”
Maybe that was the problem? I don’t know about everyone else, but most things in my world haven’t been functioning as normal since Ike. Not yet. Instead of losing your cool, why not embrace the change, be a hero, and then wait for normal to return?
I’m sorry — but for anyone to say that they don’t care what their customers want or need just irritates me. Sure, you opened your own business so you could run things the way you want … but you have nothing to run if you have no customers. At that point, you may as well sit in your kitchen and make coffee for yourself.
I’m just glad my local Panera had not only power and free wifi, but power strips at most outlets for people to use. We bought breakfast and lunch there for 3 people, and enjoyed the wifi in the several hours we were there getting work done. I will sing their praises for a long time.
To those that complained that this post was promoted … well, like the change described above post-Ike, there are changes in how people do business now thanks to social media. If you’re on the social media sites, you should be well aware of it. We’re all happy when we use it to our own benefit, but complain if you don’t like how it is used? Welcome to the new world of business. Adapt and accept it. Otherwise most of us wouldn’t be online.
Andrew Eller on September 23rd, 2008 at 9:29 am #
I’m rarely on the internet reading conversations back and forth. I like to check different blogs to get ideas of “Hidden Gems” to visit when I have spare time….
That said I’m extremely happy I read this one… It’s more entertaining than anything on TV or the radio… and in the end, it seems everyone has kissed and made up…
@ BEN & MAX exactly… no publicity is Bad publicity… I’m no coffe snob, I hardly like coffe except when I lived in Florance Italy and a couple of times here in the US, I guess because most of the coffee around here sucks. I will certainly be trying your shjop the next time I am in the area, hopefully I’ll realize that I do like coffee and that it’s just the beans around here, not everywhere.
Ms. Pants on September 23rd, 2008 at 10:12 am #
Like Christine (hi Christine!) my main issue with this whole thing isn’t that he covered the outlets or even why he covered the outlets. It was this quote:
â€œCustomers? I donâ€™t care what customers want. What matters is what I want. I opened my own shop because of that.â€
Customers are what *keeps* your shop open. You owe your livelihood to your customers.
This one little utterance is enough to keep me from ever setting foot in Catalina again.
Mister Pants on September 23rd, 2008 at 11:46 am #
It’s funny how Sean and his twitterhead friends are now posturing that they’ve created value for Max with the publicity. Sheesh.
Hey Max, keep up the good work.
jon on September 23rd, 2008 at 12:22 pm #
I have a couple of battery backups and a solar charger I used to keep my phone and laptop charged. I also was able to juice up some neighbors phones.
The point is, I didn’t have your problem because I took some simple measures to be prepared. Why is it that you are flaming Max when it was you who was not acting responsible.
I stopped by Catalina for coffee last week and it was a zoo. There were more chairs taken by laptop bags than people. There was no room to sit.
Zombie on September 23rd, 2008 at 12:30 pm #
It’s funny how Sean and the twitterheads are now posturing to have created something of value for Max by the publicity.
You oughta send him an invoice.
jon on September 23rd, 2008 at 12:38 pm #
By the way Panera bread is a large publicly held company.
Sean on September 23rd, 2008 at 1:20 pm #
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As far as I’m concerned, this issue is closed and some of the comments are beginning to have diminishing returns.
The whole situation was a basic misunderstanding that was blown out of proportion due to lots of stress caused by extenuating circumstances. We’re all human. Max, in a very lucid and clear response, articulated his community service post-Ike and sincerely apologized to those who became frustrated due to these circumstances. If I haven’t been clear enough, let me also explicitly personally apologize to Max and all the other patrons and employees at Catalina for my outburst. It was not intended to have the outcome it did for certain. I don’t think either of us would have made the comments we would have made had it not been for the craziness that ensued after Ike. And to put a fine point on it, had I been at Starbucks or any other coffee shop in town and the power outlets were covered up, I would have quietly left and gone elsewhere. That I got a little bent out of shape speaks to my loyalty to the establishment; I felt personally betrayed for a moment, yet again in hindsight it was merely the circumstances that caused our tete-a-tete and overreactions. I don’t think I’m over-stepping my bounds if I were to say things are cool between me and Catalina and I will continue to be a loyal patron and I hope you will too (if not already). As they say, whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Post a comment