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May 15, 2008 02:39 PM

Mazzaro's St Pete-Service Issues?

I truly love Mazzaro's, it has such a big city feel to it. A great selection of cheeses, sausages, pastas, wines, baked goods, breads, etc. I am out in Seminole, but try to make it out there every other month or so.
My parents were in town from upstate NY this week and I have been talking this place up for a long time. We were in a great mood having come from a shopping excursion and decided to go to Mazzaro's. This was earlier in the week, in the middle of the afternoon. It was pretty quiet there.
The only place it was kind of crowded was by the coffee bar. We managed to get three seats together. There was one person working at the coffee bar. We sat down and spent about 10 minutes planning what we would do. Would we get sandwiches? gelato? maybe some cake? In those 10 minutes, the person behind the coffee bar ignored us. It even stopped being busy after a few minutes. It was only about 50% occupied at the coffee bar. She was cleaning things, talking to a co-worker, etc.
My mother decided to waste some of the time by getting us a very large piece of cake to share. When she got back to the coffee bar, we still hadn't been acknowledged! We had by then been there about 15 minutes.
My mother told us that the man behind the bakery counter was none too nice. Apparently, he waited on women in the order of how attractive and young they were (Or at least this was how she felt). When she ordered the cake piece, she asked him to cut it in three for her. He curtly told her, "We don't do that, the knives are over there."
We then ate the cake while watching other people drink coffee. The person behind the coffee corner did everything she could do to avoid us and we are low-key people. We would never want to have to tell someone to serve us. Instead, after nearly finishing the cake and about 20 minutes after sitting down, the coffee lady asked us if we wanted anything. We declined.
We then went to get some gelato. We were the third people in line. The person in front ordered a quart of gelato. The gelato lady spent at least 3 minutes scooping this one quart of gelato, and finally, I turned to my parents and said, "let's get out of here". When we left, the gelato lady was still scooping gelato for that man.
On the ride home, we realized that we all now had a surly attitude. How funny, I was trying to show them what a great place this was, we had entered in a great mood and left in an angry one. Seems like the opposite pupose of a destination place like Mazzaro's. We had driven about 45 minutes to get there.
We had intended on doing a whole Italian dinner. We were going to buy some fresh pasta (and in all fairness, pasta man was friendly.) We were going to spend a decent amount of money as well. We left spending only $3.75.
This was actually the second time in a row, I found some aspect of the service lacking.
Anyone else ever found this to be the case?

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  1. I think that everyone has a bad day. It sounds like you have never had a bad day at work. I think you should have asked for some help from the coffee bar person instead of just sitting there and getting more angry. It also sounds like instead of asking to speak to someone in charge about your experience and help them get better, you chose to tell no one except on the website which does Mazzaro's no good at addressing your problems. I am sure if they knew the problems you had they would have addressed the issue and turned your experience from bad to good.
    I have been going there for five years and have had few problems and if I do I would bring it to there attention.

    2 Replies
    1. re: horvath42

      I agree with you, Horvath. If you have a problem with an establishment, tell someone or else it won't get fixed. If I were a retailer, I would sure like to know if there is a service problem.


      1. re: horvath42

        If there had been only one lacking interaction, I would have probably just laughed it off as someone's bad day. But it was an overall attitude of laziness and disinterest that was pervasive.
        Interestingly, it was one of my first visits when it was relatively quiet there. Perhaps the staff was just tired from the lunch rush having recently ended, and I like Mazzaro's selection and quality too much to stop going.
        But it reminded me a little of calling a call center that isn't run too well, the first person says, "I don't handle that, I'll transfer you there". Then you tell the whole story over again, then they transfer you, and it goes on and on. When you get off the phone without having your problem handled, your overall impression is that the company needs to work on their service. That is what it felt like at Mazzaro's that day.
        You are right, I probably should have spoken to the manager about it, but that isn't something I generally do unless I am served the wrong item or it is spoiled, etc. I don't like the confrontation. That's just me.

      2. The length of time you waited at the coffee counter seems a bit much--why not say something? But it sounds like all their counters were goofy that day. I will say that I have found service there to be brusque, especially if one appears not to know one's way around, and it's a confusing place on one's first visit. If I'm honest, the crazed, noisy atmosphere at lunch was a turnoff for me, mitigated in large part by some very charming oldtimer fellow-diners.

        1. They can definitely pull some 'tude over there (they're, for all intensive purposes, the only show in town). I purchased an entire loin of tuna there once, got it home, cooked it and it tasted/smelled oily and disgusting. Left a message, sent a letter, offered to split the cost - no response. I still go for the things I can only get there but gone are my days of unabashed praise singing.

          3 Replies
          1. re: lobo_jlo

            That is going to be how I deal with Mazzaro's. I used to go there just for the fun of it, but will not be doing that anymore. The other day, I found myself on 22nd Ave driving by and could have stopped but chose not to. What's funny is people on this board cannot understand how we could have sat there for 15 to 20 minutes and not have said anything. You had to see it to believe it. The coffee lady never came within 10 feet of us while we were waiting. She kept looking at us and was making a conscious effort to avoid us. It was almost as if she was relishing watching us eat this actually so-so cake with dry mouths. Short of getting off my chair and going around to the other side of the counter and tapping her on the shoulder, or yelling very loudly, there was no way we were ever going to get served. Also, as far as speaking to a manager, I didn't see one around.
            Like you, I will go there for necessities but that's it. I will never bother with the espresso bar again.

            1. re: Robert R

              Just because you don't see a manager doesn't mean there isn't one. If you are in a restaurant, would you set there for that long without saying anything? I don't think so. Sometimes you have to ask for help.
              If she looked at you and you notice she is looking at you why didn't you motion her over or say something.
              Yes, someone should have come over but, it seems as though you could have made an effort.

              1. re: horvath42

                I posted this note just to see if others had found that Mazzaro's service had fallen somewhat. This used to be one of my "hang out places", where I would go on a day off to relax and enjoy some big city feelings in our lovely St. Pete. I think why the service bothered me so much was that I had a very long wait the visit before at the coffee bar as well. This had never been an issue before - even on busy Saturdays. I had talked the place up to my family and in some way, the lousy experience made me look bad. That I would think so highly of a place with such poor service. I just wanted to see if others had experienced poor service there as well. I didn't start this post to be lectured on what I should have done to make my experience better. If I am sitting at a coffee counter, obviously I want coffee. I shouldn't have to make any effort. That is how good service works. Someone should say, "how can I help you". Whether I asked for a manager or not doesn't change the fact that I experienced poor service. Also, it is not my duty to speak to a manager to improve an establishment.

          2. I certainly experienced Mazzaros' attitude this last weekend. They made a rum cake for a birthday party I was giving and it started falling apart before I even got it in my car. by the time i made the 5 min trip home, it had split into thirds and completely collapsed. I called and spoke to the pastry chef ( who is supposedly also the owner/manager?) and she was completely uncooperative and rude. Beware of the customer service there.