Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's a TeamBuyer Life for Me: Part 1

I was recently asked to participate in a fun promotion to celebrate the one-year anniversary of TeamBuy in my home city of Halifax. Nicknamed, "Choose Your Own Adventure", the idea behind the promotion was to spend a "day in the life of a TeamBuyer" by visiting two local TeamBuy partnering businesses using a special coupon, and report back on the experience. There were some great options for food and fun, but I narrowed it down to two things I had never done before but have been intrigued by for a while. 

The first part of my adventure included waffles with fruit and drinks at Ray's Haus cafe. I am not going to lie, even though TeamBuy pretty much had me at "waffles", I did not have high hopes for this place because it is only a few months old and I heard less-than-stellar reports from others who had visited. However, I still tried to go in with an open mind.

I visited Ray's on a Saturday morning around 11am, not sure if they would even be open (could not find any hours for them online, including on their facebook page - I wrote on their wall asking but no one got back to me - NOTE to businesses - don't use social media if you're not going to USE it, know what I mean?)


Anyway, the entrance to Ray's looked a little weird - you have to walk up a cement ramp, which makes you feel like you are heading into a parking garage, and the cement patio area outside looked a tad messy with various pieces of furniture and wood strewn around. This was disappointing, because the patio area is huge and (I think) has great potential. The way it is now, the potential is being wasted, especially since it is mid-summer and therefore prime patio weather. Their location sort of works against them in a few different ways (not in a main cafe district, placed between apartment buildings and an office building above a concrete parking area, a bit tucked away from the front of the street, right down the street from another German-style cafe) but sprucing up the outside to make it more inviting might help counteract that.

I was pleasantly surprised when we entered, as the inside looked much better. The decor has a warm and cozy feeling to it - one corner with a couple of couches looked like a particularly great place to sit and read with a coffee. 

Check out his page here
The place was deserted and we were momentarily confused, but someone soon appeared and apologized. He was very friendly and took our orders promptly. We had a coupon for waffles and drinks so we didn't have to choose from the menu and frankly I was sort of glad. The "menu" consists of vague items written on poster board pieces pasted over the counter, and I hate to be mean but it was not very professional looking. The writing was small and hard to read - I realize professionally made signs are expensive, but what about a chalkboard? I know I am nitpicking, but with today's readily available technology, I really don't understand why businesses use handwritten signs. Type something up, for goodness sake! It doesn't have to be art-school-worthy! Just readable and clear.

*again with the ranting - I'll shut up now and get to the waffles

The waffles we had were...not bad. The presentation was good, and the whipped cream with bits of chocolate sauce on the side added a nice sweetness. They were nothing to write home about, but not bad either. They were a bit heavy for me because I felt quite full after only one, and the texture was a bit tough. Not sure if that is due to the batter or the way they were made. It felt more like dessert than breakfast, and I think given the time of day I was looking more for the latter. My coffee, however, was quite good and had a very intriguing name - Highlander Grogg. I was impressed that they had their own House Blend.

The whole experience was...nice, but kind of lackluster. The guy was really friendly and we felt welcome, but there was something missing in the food department. My opinion is pretty matched by others I have talked to about Ray's and from these collected thoughts I have concluded that it could be very much improved either with time or by making some small changes. Improving their cooking techniques, and changing their focus from waffles/food to coffee are a couple of changes I might suggest. I definitely see it as more of a coffee shop/gathering place than a german waffle place, so marketing themselves more in that direction could be beneficial. I feel it might even do well with a license (The Wired Monk is a place I think does this really well here), especially considering the potential patio space.

I'm not a business-person, but that is just the "vibe" I get. I think they have a great start but need a little more tweaking. I always like to cut new places some slack because sometimes it can take trial and error to get the "kinks" worked out. I will try Ray's again in the future and hope that they have polished up a bit.

Thank you so much TeamBuy! Stay tuned for Part 2 of our adventure...whale watching!

I wish I could say I took this photo on our trip, but alas it is from here. Come back later for the whole story!


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Thank you so much for reading!