The Knoxville Service Inquirer

Your source for Knoxville, TN's quality service

jAVERDE is moving! March 11, 2010

Filed under: Coffee Shop — Rae @ 5:50 am
Tags: , , ,

This will be a short update to my last post because it is a) late, and b) very little information to begin with.

I last wrote about jAVERDE after going to the West Town Mall kiosk where it has been located since before December. I stand by what I said then: jAVERDE is still the best coffee around.

Today I’m back with a little fun news about the shop. I can’t verify that they’ll be leaving the mall kiosk, but jAVERDE is definitely opening a new shop in a local shopping center. This means they’ll have their own building with space for behind the counter prepping of drinks (including new espresso beverages) and more importantly foods.

Yes, that’s right: jAVERDE will be serving up small entrees for lunches as well as pastries for the coffee fans out there. I’m not entirely sure whether they’ll be ordering things that will simply be stocked in the back or ordering specific items to make a whole specialty line of sandwiches and the like. But after talking with the guy whose name I always forget at the kiosk a few times recently, I can guarantee that they’ll be serving food, coffee, and various lattes.

I’m especially looking forward to the lattes. With the quality of their regular roasted coffees, I imagine the espresso will be excellent.

That said, I’ve been poking around Google Maps and discovered (through trial and error) the address for this new location.

jAVERDE New Location: 9615 Countryside Center Lane, Knoxville, TN 37931

For those of you who don’t recognize it, jAVERDE will be moving into the shop that Bear Creek Coffee used to occupy before it was closed. This is over on my side of town in the Karns area.

In short, jAVERDE will be located off Middlebrook Pike across from the new(er) Food City, just down the road from the Middlebrook/Lovell intersection. And, yes, I’m doing all this for those of you like me who have problems with maps and directions but great success with landmarks!

So the last thing I wanted to say is that jAVERDE will be opening Monday, March 15 for business. I believe the grand opening is sometime in April from what I’d heard, but don’t quote me on it. And there will be a special trial run coming up very soon (obviously), but I’m not certain I should post it here. My father and I were invited to attend as guinea pigs to test out services, cash registers, and the like, so we’ll be there for sure. If someone from jAVERDE finds this post like Dan did before, they can always add comments advertising the opening, and I’ll be happy to correct any mistakes I might have made.

That’s really all I wanted to say. I’m thrilled that jAVERDE’s getting a new home. It’s going to become my new Wednesday night hangout for sure. Especially since it’s closer to me now.

What are you waiting for? Go to jAVERDE already!

That’s all. Hope everyone’s doing well, and I’m done for the evening!

-Rae-

P.S. I also know jAVERDE is looking for art for the new store: any artists who would like to hang their art in the store and have themes similar to those the company embraces (conservation, ecological responsibility, Arbor Day, etc.) should definitely talk to the man with the plan. It would probably be a good way to get some exposure to your art as well!

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Java Lover? Check jAVERDE out. January 27, 2010

They’ve been in business in Knoxville for a few months now, and my dad was the first one in the family to try out the cuisine, or should I say, the java. The company’s name is jAVERDE, and yes, they’re a coffee company.

Technically speaking, I wouldn’t normally write about a coffee making company, but they deserve some notice. jAVERDE is a homegrown roasting group that purchases and roasts a wide variety of specialty and regular coffee blends. They sell coffee online at their website as well as at their one and only “brick-and-mortar” store.

Best Coffee In Town

This company roasts and sells its premium blends of coffee.

But brick-and-mortar doesn’t describe jAVERDE’s locale properly. They’re actually located in West Town Mall at a kiosk, yes, a kiosk, in the center of the mall. In fact, the best way to find them is to stand in front of Abercrombie & Fitch, facing away from the storefront, look to the right, and jAVERDE will be one of the kiosks you see. (It’s rather unfortunate that the scent from Abercrombie overwhelms all other potential scents in that part of the mall or else I’d recommend following your nose.)

jAVERDE combines two of my favorite things: coffee and wit. Just check out some of the titles of their Christmas blends: Kringle Jingle Java or Brewltide Cheer, for instance. But where some coffee companies might leave the talent to their naming division, jAVERDE goes the extra mile and employs a master roaster to custom roast each bag of their delicious tasting coffees.

As a former barista from Starbucks, I have to admit: the coffee giant has nothing on this locally-owned, Powell-based coffee roaster. I’ve sampled a rather large variety of jAVERDE’s coffee blends, and I’ve never tasted any coffee quite as smooth as theirs. Perhaps I’m not the best coffee connoisseur, but I’ve been drinking the dark stuff since I was 2 years old; I feel like I have enough experience to be able to recommend a whole bean coffee.

So hear me say this: I wholeheartedly recommend that you try jAVERDE coffee. It is by far my favorite coffee roaster. And as an added bonus, there are a variety of ways the company is trying to help the environment. Just check out their website for more information!

Now before you start arguing that you’ve been drinking the same coffee for years and it’s perfectly fine, oh, and why should you purchase a full pound of coffee from some no-account coffee company, let me say one more thing. If you visit their kiosk in the mall, the jAVERDE team is only too happy to let you sample as many of their brewed coffees as you please. Yes, I said brewed.

Caramel, Chocolate, and Pecan Flavored Coffee

I tried this coffee blend tonight and fell in love.

jAVERDE keeps a number of coffees brewed and ready at their kiosk. I generally see at least six different kinds, and they love it when people come by to sample. If you find a kind you like, you can usually buy it there. Plus, for every bag of coffee you buy, you get a free cup of coffee to go with it.

Since this is a service blog, I should probably also point out that the guys who own the company and work in the kiosk are incredibly nice. They’re fun to talk to and have decided that my mom and I are some of their favorite regular customers. But they’ll also give you as much information you want about their flavors and blends so that you can make the best choice.

Finally, if you want to order some of their other blends online, they have their master roaster personally roast the bag for you, to be sent via mail to your front door. So there’s something else to look forward to: mail-order coffee!

But don’t let me push you into anything. Try it for yourself. The company is one of the best I’ve seen, and they have a lot of wholesome values to go with the quality coffee they roast. Overall, I’m sure I’ll be going back again and again to visit this roaster because, quite frankly, they make the best caffeine-booster I’ve had in a long time.

Company: jAVERDE

Location: 2911 Tazewell Pike, Suite 246, Knoxville, TN 37918 (also West Town Mall for the kiosk)

KSI Rating: 10 out of 10

If you try their coffee, let me know what you think of it. I know I can’t be the only one out there that’s simply in love with this company!

-Rae-

 

No Place Hops Like… IHOP! June 13, 2009

Today was a crazy day for me. After staying up late last night (later than I’ve been up in a long time), I decided to sleep in. When I got up, I didn’t want to make breakfast, so I decided to head to IHOP since I hadn’t been there in a while.

Normally I go to the IHOP on Lovell Road near Turkey Creek or even the one on Merchants Drive, but today I was headed toward Bearden, so I stopped in at the one on Kingston Pike. To my knowledge, it’s the oldest one in Knoxville, but I don’t know for sure if that’s a fact.

It was around 1:20 or so when I got there for my late brunch, and the place was packed. There were cars filling most of the close spots, and I noticed as I pulled into my parking place that there was a Coach bus parked on the side of the road. I was worried when I saw that. I mean, how many people take a Coach bus of people to IHOP?

Apparently people from San Antonio do because there was a bus full of 50 school children inside the restaurant when I got there. They were so loud and some of them were running around; it made me want to turn tail and run, but I was hungry and wanted to eat there. So I stood at the front of the restaurant waiting for someone to notice me.

It took about five minutes before the chaos let up enough for one of the waitresses to ask if I needed to be seated. Luckily she sat me as soon as I told her I did, and I found myself across the way from two tables chock full of students. They had made a huge mess of the tables and floor around them, and I checked under my table to see if any of the litter had migrated. It hadn’t.

My waitress was named Shayna, I believe, and she was very prompt, coming out to take my drink order in the midst of the noise and returning quickly with my coffee. I placed my order and sat watching the people around me for the next few minutes as I waited. The kids were being rounded up by their watchdogs–er–chaperones, and the waitresses were running around, taking orders, cleaning tables, and delivering food and drinks. It was extremely busy.

Despite the loud chaos, however, I could tell that everyone at IHOP had it under control. They quickly cleaned up after the students had finally left, and they chatted with one another, cracking jokes and trading gossip. It’s a very friendly atmosphere. I also got my food quickly, too, which was a plus. It was so hot the butter was sliding off my pancakes and trying to fall on the table!

As they worked, the camaraderie was evident, and the employees were very helpful to myself and the rest of the customers around me. Shayna, in particular, was an excellent waitress to have. I really appreciated the fact that she was quick to come around and make sure that everything was okay, that I had what I needed, and that I enjoyed my food.

After paying and putting down my tip for her, she popped back over to the table to see if I needed a to-go cup of coffee. It was a nice gesture, and I told her no thanks but filed it away as something I appreciated about the service. I started to get up, and I heard a guy behind me wishing me a good day, and I turned to see one of the busboys busily cleaning up at the table behind me. He smiled at me, and I thanked him.

It really was just one of those great experiences that you don’t necessarily expect to find at a restaurant like that. I have to say that the service was fantastic, and I would definitely go back to that IHOP again, especially if the service continues like that.

Restaurant: IHOP
Location: 7128 Kingston Pike, Knoxville 37919
KSI Rating: 8 out of 10

Service Tips Inspired By This Restaurant:
-Smile and deal kindly with your customers, even if you’re harried, frustrated, or otherwise in chaos.
-Put on an air of control even in the midst of chaos because this assures the customer you can handle what’s going on around you.
-Work sensibly but quickly and prioritize which customers’ needs must be met first, even if you only have a few customers.

So there you have it! I love IHOP, and this particular one has definitely met my expectations for service. Let me know any thoughts you might have on it! Thanks for reading, and good luck in your restaurant hunting!

-Rae-

 

So What Do You Suggest? Coffee Or Chocolate? June 8, 2009

This afternoon I had the opportunity to walk around downtown Knoxville where there are several little restaurants and coffee shops that I’d love to check out more. I’m not a fan of downtown simply because I get lost easily and don’t like the idea of one-way streets. However, as I was with others, I didn’t have to drive and was able to enjoy myself. 

 

We ended our trip with a stop at a little coffee shop called Coffee & Chocolate. It’s one of those lovely hole-in-the-wall shops that simply surprises you once you’ve entered. The atmosphere is chic, urban, and very comfortable. Even though it’s a small place, it has a few tables to spare on a Sunday afternoon. Since downtown is so quiet on Sundays, it was easy to enter and find a quiet nook to ourselves in the store.

 

What really impressed me about this place was the man behind the counter. As soon as we entered, he was ready and willing to help us, and he wasn’t overbearing or impatient in the least. In fact, he seemed to genuinely want to give us good service and make our experience a relaxing one. 

 

As a former barista, I have to compare my coffee shop experiences to those I’ve had and those I gave at Starbucks. One of the things they teach you in training at Starbucks is to create the “Starbucks experience,” which is closely modeled after your typical coffee shop experience. I always look forward to these experiences because they are so unique and comforting. 

 

Today as I entered Coffee & Chocolate, I just knew it would be an excellent experience. How did I know that? Because the barista was ready to answer our questions and not worried about our taking our time to decide. 

 

I asked him what his recommendations were, and he quickly asked what I was looking for: coffee or something else. So we chatted about his favorite drinks and which ones were popular as we decided what to order. He beckoned us to the pastry counter where we saw some delicious looking pastries, and then he had us follow him over to the small chocolates counter as well. 

 

Once more I asked his recommendations on pairing items, and he told me what to try. We ordered, and I asked for a hazelnut latte and two small chocolates: one was a tiramisu truffle, the other a sea salt caramel. He recommended the latter as it’s his current favorite, and I was intrigued by the obvious flavor combination of sweet and salty. 

 

We got our drinks quickly, and they were in cute mugs, and our pastries came on little plates that matched. I was impressed by the drinks, but that’s a story for another place. After we had sat there for a while, munching and sipping, he came out to see if I liked the chocolate he recommended. As I was finishing the tiramisu one first, he offered to get me a glass of water to cleanse my palate in between flavors. I accepted, and he brought out a glass of ice water for me. I was very impressed, to say the least.

 

The service was exceptional for such a small shop with only one person working, and it was obvious that he was genuinely interested in seeing that we enjoyed our choices and his recommendations. It was a comfortable atmosphere, and I found myself relaxing as I indulged in my order.

 

Restaurant: Coffee & Chocolate

Location: 327 Union Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37902

Phone: 865-688-9244

KSI Rating: 9 out of 10

 

Service Tips Inspired By This Restaurant:

-Know what you serve, try what you serve. If you know what it’s like, you’ll be better able to make recommendations.

-Be genuine with customers.

-Don’t overwhelm the customer with recommendations but watch for cues that they want to know more.

 

Coffee & Chocolate also does catering, so I included their phone number. Unfortunately they don’t have a website that I can include, but I hope this has been helpful. Any comments, questions, or ideas can be submitted to my comments. Hope you’ve enjoyed and good luck in your restaurant quest!

 

-Rae-

 

P.S. I absolutely loved the sea salt caramel! I might go back and get a few more of them. And at $0.99 per caramel, they’re not cheap but definitely good quality! 

 

If Service Is Listening, Hardees Is Deaf…

I’ll admit it; I’m not the biggest Hardees fan. Since they changed their menu to the Thickburger, I haven’t been impressed. However, tonight we decided to go and pick up a few things because it was late and we needed to eat. 

 

There has been a Hardees in Karns for as long as I’ve lived in Knoxville, and it’s undergone some serious changes over the years. Since Hardees is trying to compete with other fast food chains by offering a refined menu characterized by the Thickburger and a select number of choices, it has heavily catered to the male audience. If you watch the commercials, it’s obvious Hardees is trying to draw men in for their burgers and breakfasts. I tend to believe this is because most of the other fast food chains have the market for family meals and children often ask their parents to go to places like McDonald’s or Chick-fil-A or other such places. So Hardees has taken the alternative of marketing to men.

 

This may or may not be a good strategy. I haven’t followed Hardees’s progress through this transformation. But I have gone to the Karns Hardees once or twice in the last few years and decided what I like and don’t like. So tonight when I went to get food, it was obvious what I was going to order even though I hadn’t been to Hardees for lunch or dinner in years. 

 

We decided to go in so it would be easier to make our choices, and we were greeted by the sight of a rather annoyed woman manning the register. A couple in front of us placed their order, and we then got up to place ours. Now Hardees, at least in Karns, is not manned by many employees from what I’ve seen. And the woman taking our order was obviously not pleased to be there, didn’t want to be working, and was in a sour mood. 

 

I’ll admit we didn’t know what we wanted, but we talked through it and thought she was listening as we said, “Yeah, I’ll take a…” and “That sounds fine. Let’s get a…” After we paid, she took the receipt to the counter behind her and started calling out orders. It was confusing because she didn’t say what we expected, and we thought she was calling out our order and the one of the couple before us.

 

As we waited, she began to complain a little to someone working in the back, and we exchanged glances, joking about how she must not want to work there. It wasn’t long before we heard her say something about the onion rings taking a long time. I was annoyed because I’d ordered them out of curiosity. When our order was finished, a young man put everything into the bag and gave it to us. He, at least, was friendly and genuinely seemed eager to please. 

 

We considered checking the bag to make sure everything was there, but as we were running late, we just left for home. Once we got home, we pulled out items. Now, to set the stage, there are three of us who ordered, and we each ordered a sandwich of some kind. We also had an order of onion rings and curly fries. First of all, there were no curly fries unless curls are somehow straight now. The onion rings had the tiniest onions and tons of breading. We had two out of three sandwiches. 

 

To say we were disappointed would be true. To say it is ridiculous that the cashier didn’t listen to our order is also true. I believe it’s because she didn’t care enough to pay attention to us as we talked through our order that we didn’t get what we expected. And since we didn’t have a receipt in the bag, we have no idea if we paid for an extra sandwich that we didn’t get. 

 

In short, this restaurant, which has never had very friendly or quality service, has just met my expectations based on service from the past. And that is a sad state of affairs. 

 

Restaurant: Hardees/Red Burrito

Location: 7762 Oak Ridge Highway, Knoxville, TN 37931

KSI Rating: 3 out of 10

 

Service Tips Inspired By This Business:

If your customers don’t know what they want, offer to help or simply listen to them as they talk out their orders.

-Pay attention to what your customers are saying. 

-Attempt to like your job. If you don’t like it, attempt to grin and bear it anyway.

-Customers know when you don’t care, so either find a way to care or just fake it as best you can. They won’t come back if you don’t make them want to. 

 

Ideas, thoughts, comments? Feel free to leave any comments you like. Thanks for reading, and good luck restaurant hunting! 

 

-Rae-

 

Intro: The Knoxville Service Inquirer

Filed under: Introduction — Rae @ 12:55 am

Hi! My name is Rachel, but you can call me Rae. I’m starting this blog because I am simply tired of the half-hearted, poor service quality I’ve been seeing around Knoxville, Tennessee. I want the Knoxville Service Inquirer to be your source for places to go where you can get the best service. 

 

With that in mind, let’s talk about what I’m going to be discussing in my blogs. I’ll probably stick with restaurants because they are generally where you can see some of the best examples of service, both good and bad. I’m not distinguishing between fast food and sit down restaurants, coffee shops and ice cream joints; I’ll cover whatever I find. 

 

Why should you trust my assessments? Well, there are a couple of reasons. First of all, I’m not just some average Joe off the street. I’m a student at the University of Tennessee, planning to finish my Bachelors of Science degree in December 2009. Not only that, but I’m studying business and have had an inside look at some of the principles that go into quality service through my business classes. 

 

I am not a restaurant server, nor have I ever been. The closest I’ve come to service has been as a barista at Starbucks. However, I do know what it takes to supply great service to your customers, and most of that lies in knowing your customers and what they want. 

 

Because I don’t have the service background, I cannot claim to be an expert in how to get great service from employees. I can, however, claim to know what customers want because I am, in fact, a customer. And as a customer, I know what standards of service I want from the places I go as a consumer. It’s important to both businesses and consumers that they provide and we receive the service we expect because that determines how many repeat visits we give and the amount of business they do. 

 

So as we begin to look at the service standards of restaurants (and other businesses that I’ll cover when I deem it appropriate) in Knoxville, I’d like to invite you to join me in finding your own quality of service that you appreciate and seeking it out in the places you shop at. 

 

I’ll generally give a business a rating of 1-10, 10 being the best. As we get more and more into the blog, I might do some tweaking of ratings to include more and variable items, but for now, I’m going to focus on service quality. 

 

Why do a blog on service quality and not a food review? It’s simple. Everyone has different tastes, and I’m not trying to convince people to go to one place or another based on the foods I like. What I want is to give a fairly unbiased opinion on the service quality of the businesses I visit so that you will know what places meet fairly standard service quality. 

 

I feel that service is a deal-breaker, especially in restaurants. I know of several places my family does not go anymore because of the poor service, and I’m sure you can name places you either stopped visiting or have had bad experiences at and are hesitant to go back to. 

 

With no further ado, welcome to my blog, and please enjoy the information I give. I’ll be supplying addresses of restaurants, so you won’t have to wonder which ones I’ve visited, especially in the case of chains. If you have any suggestions for places to visit, please feel free to comment and let me know. Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment on anything you like! 

 

-Rae-