Saturday, January 3, 2009
It is with great disappointment that I write this post. I'm certain that this will not be the last time that I am disappointed in such a way and I am also certain that most if not all of you vegan readers out there have already experienced this.
In general, if I am offended by something I will be upset for a little while but then I just shrug it off and decide to have nothing further to do with the offending object. In this case however I feel obligated to write about it here at least (and talk about it to anyone who asks) because not only have I recommended this place through this blog and by word of mouth but they have offended our deeply held beliefs that mean a great deal.
I speak of Magnolia Bistro. Some time ago I wrote about this cafe's great atmosphere and tastiness. Now everything has changed. Most of the staff looks the same, the owners are the same, the menu even looks the same as it did those many months ago. I have just learned, through my husband who went there more often then I as a day off breakfast treat, that for about 6 months they have been feeding us (and anyone else who ordered) non-vegan veggie sausage. They did indeed once have vegan sausage but it ran out and was replaced with a non-vegan option.
Now, let's stay focused on the issue here. It is not that they changed their sausage. It is that the sausage was changed and they continued to serve it to people who specifically specified VEGAN when ordering. I want to make this clear because in a restaurant that claims vegan friendliness ("vegan" specifically written on the menu) one would assume that everyone in the place would understand what this means. Everyone, from the owners who wrote the menu to the waitress who takes the time to write vegan on your order slip to the cooks behind the scenes who have to read the ticket and make the food. One would assume that somewhere along the line someone would notice that they were feeding vegans something that was not vegan! Furthermore, the first explaination of why they changed the sausage was "I think it was a taste issue." I think most vegans know that is plain silliness. Yes, there are veg'ns that do not like fake meats but if they don't like fakes they aren't going to order them. Changing the brand will only net you one or two orders max. The staff seemed annoyed that this was an issue (but you are vegan friendly, how can you not understand that this is an issue?) Eventually the owner was spoken to and Lex got to the bottom of it. The original vegan sausage wasn't available for a while so they had to switch until it was available again. Fair enough, but why does your staff not know this? They have been serving the veggie sausage for months and no one said a thing. Not once until this one waitress who thankfully knew it wasn't vegan but unfortunately didn't know why. Even after attaining this explaination she did not really seem to take it seriously. She simply said she would talk to the waitress to let her know the real reason they switched the sausage. After a customer finds out you have been wronging them for months when they put their trust in you is this really the best you can do? It would seem so.
It doesn't stop here. Over the course of the yearish that it has been since I wrote that first post there is something else that doesn't quite jive with the place. They claim to have vegan options for most things on the menu. This is where I thought "Great! these guys get it. It isn't difficult to make vegan food. It isn't difficult to feed vegans." To veganize items on the menu they simply take away the non-vegan things and still charge you the same price. So you get less food . . . .but pay the same . . . .not cool and weak veganizing. If you have read my previous Magnolia post you probably noticed my excitement over Earth Balance. Yup, they still have it but you might still get butter on your toast. Again, a place that proclaims it greenness and vegan friendliness, you should not have to send food back to the kitchen because they put sour cream on the plate, butter on the toast, or whatever animal suffering they might pour onto an omnivore's plate even though you know for certain that you said you were vegan and the word "vegan" was written on the slip.
So in short (or not so short). They don't get it. They put "vegan options" on the menu to get in line with the Groovy Btown that everyone seems to think Burlington is. Yes you can get vegan food their but it may or may not be vegan. Eat at your own risk. I wouldn't.