Restaurant owner hits back at carnival critics
ONE of Toowoomba's carnival go-to spots has been receiving some pretty harsh feedback in the wake of the city's annual event.
A visit to Picnic Point is a must-do (counted with the Grand Central Floral Parade as well as visits to Queens Park and Laurel Bank Park) for many residents and visitors to the city during September each year.
Plenty of guests love to grab an ice cream from Picnic Point Cafe and enjoy it while strolling among the flower beds and enjoying the beautiful views over the Lockyer Valley.
This year the cafe even released a special violet and wattle seed ice cream to go along with the carnival theme.
But it appears some vocal visitors were less-than thrilled with their visit at the start of spring.
While there were plenty of happy customers pleased with their food, service and views, there was an unusual spike in scathing reviews throughout August and September as the garden beds began to bloom.
Review headings included examples like "Service issue during Carnival of Flowers - very poor", "Rough as guts experience", and "Extortionate Is Too Kind A Word".
Issues with the restaurant included long wait times for ice cream - with coach customers on a limited time frame forced to go without, the cost of $17 for four scoops of ice cream "about the size of a 50c piece", disappointing service, unclean toilets and a price tag of $29 for two sandwiches reportedly served on stale bread.
Restaurant owner Kenny Kristensen said it was regrettable that anyone left without having a positive experience, but considering they served 15,000-18,000 customers throughout carnival it was a very small proportion of customers who were unhappy.
This year's customer numbers were up between 17-18% on last year's record numbers.
Mr Kristensen said one particular negative review about service times was valid and had been caused by a malfunction with the register sending orders through to the kitchen.
He offered the customers a free meal but they declined, instead opting to make a negative review.
"I'm disappointed that people want to give you a back hander, but don't want to do it to your face," Mr Kristensen said.
"If there is something wrong with your coffee, you get a new one and if there's something wrong with your ice cream, you get a new one."
He said 30 staff members were rostered on for the carnival spike including a specific roster for people to serve ice-cream because cafe management valued speedy service.
"We had about 30 staff on, so there should have been a lot more than one person serving and it probably shouldn't have happened.
"It's not our policy to make people wait, but perhaps if it was mid-afternoon it might have been changeover time."
As far as pricing went, Mr Kristensen said the café made little to nothing off the sale of the special carnival ice cream and most customers received more than the allotted amount, which reduced their margins further.
He said he wasn't sure what went wrong with the reviewer who complained about $17 for three scoops, because ice creams were priced at $5 each.