As much as I enjoy trying a new tea spot, sometimes a return to the familiar is even better. All week I had looked forward to dropping by Matcha Box, the first tea bar in Los Angeles devoted exclusively to matcha. I am still missing Royal-T in Culver City, where I used to savor the creamiest, most favorable – and thankfully unsweetened – matcha lattes I have ever had. My hope was that Matcha Box would fill that void.
So my friend Jane and I set out for the new spot, located on Third in the trendy stretch between Fairfax and La Cienega. The photos online gave me confidence that this was the real deal – high-quality matcha made to perfection. We arrived about 3:30. According to Google, Matcha Box was open from 11:00 AM to 7:00 PM.
After claiming a parking place just a block away, we scurried over to the shop. The first sign of trouble was seeing the placard that normally sits outside the store peering at us from behind the closed door. However, the business hours were right there on the door and there was no additional communication letting customers know why the door was locked. Had they run out of tea? Had an emergency come up? Then we saw a woman behind the counter at the back of the shop. We waved and shrugged our shoulders. What was up? Could we come in? She looked at us and swept her right hand across her throat. We understood and left.
More than being disappointed that we would not be sampling one of the shop’s signature matcha drinks, we were disappointed in the way in which the woman in the shop chose to handle the situation. Had she taken the time to come to the door and let us know why the store was closed, apologized, and perhaps even given us the promise of a discount upon our return, we would have left satisfied and eager to try again. Given our experience, we are unlikely to go back.
It saddens me that a shop with what is likely a good product might well go under because the owners simply don’t understand good customer service. Here we were, two customers in the hand who had taken the time to come to their shop and were summarily dismissed.
Thankfully, our trip was not for naught. Mama’s Secret Bakery was just a few short blocks away and they were waiting for us with a warm welcome, some delicious kadayif, tasty gözleme, and a mean pot of Turkish tea. Now that’s customer service!