Saturday, July 28, 2007

I scream, you scream

My friend Whitney recently shared her open letter to Mimi Maternity.

I've been feeling some angst lately, so decided to draft an open letter of my own about something I feel passionate about.

I’d like to preface this letter by saying I have told countless people of my last experience at Gelateria Naia. I’ve told people not to go there, not because of the quality of the gelato, but because of the poor store policies and lack of respect for a loyal customer.

Ask anyone who knows me, I love ice cream and gelato. I will make a special drive just for the right treat. For the past couple years, I have enjoyed visiting your location in downtown Berkeley. Not on a regular basis, but as the occasional treat. And even though I always got the same flavors, I had so much fun browsing through your unusual collection. Where else do you find flavors like Thai iced tea, anise, and sesame seed?

In fact, I’ve even brought you new customers. My husband, my son (the picture at the left was taken last year of my son at Naia, when he realized he had a smaller size than his uncle's double scoop), my friends. I wanted to share what used to be such a great experience with other people. I would make special trips down there by myself or with friends to treat myself to something special. A special outing with my son was to take BART to downtown Berkeley specifically to visit you and get gelato.

I always bought a “bambino” sized cone. Always…why? Though I could probably eat my way out of a vat of your gelato, I really don’t need as much gelato as in your small sizes. I appreciated the fact that you had an even smaller size, for my son and, because frankly, serving sizes are just too big these days.

And then, a few weeks ago, after craving something sweet during a long long walk with a friend, I eagerly anticipated stopping on Shattuck and getting some gelato. I was so excited to go in and get my usual, a bambino-sized white mint chip/dark chocolate.

So I went in and asked for a bambino sized white mint chip and dark chocolate. The girl behind the counter said she couldn’t give it to me because it’s just for kids. I told her I had been coming for a long time and I always got the bambino size. She then has the balls to ask me how old I am. I told her that wasn’t the point, obviously I’m not a kid. Then she basically accuses me of being a corporate spy, sent down to bust people for breaking the rules. She let me know that people can get fired for this. I assured her that I wasn’t a spy and I just wanted my gelato. She still refused. I said, “So you’d rather have me walk out and not take my $2.25 than give me what I’ve been getting here for years? I think that’s what you’d get fired for.” At that point, I walked out with my friend.

I know there are lots of places that offer special child sizes. And where there is an age limit, like “Must be under 12”, I totally respect that. I may still ask, but I kind of expect you’ll tell me ‘no’, since it’s posted on the wall/menu or wherever. In that case, what I usually do is order the regular sized whatever, but tell them not to give me so much, but I’ll still pay full price. Even when I do this, people look at me oddly. Oh well.

However, as for you, Naia Gelateria. Know that I won’t be coming down for my occasional treats. Know that I won’t be bringing friends and family to your locations any more. Know that when people ask me for a recommendation for gelato, I will tell people to go to Sketch or Ciao Bella, but I WON'T be uttering the hard to pronounce name, “Gelateria Naia”.

Please re-evaluate your store policy, or at the very least, put up a sign.



VDog said...

Huh, that's too bad. I know they sponsor the Cal cycling team, and the owner has been really nice to them.
I totally do that too -- ask to be charged the regular price and get less. I guess Americans just have a problem with that concept (bigger, better, more!) (not to disparage Americans; I'm 3rd Gen, but also a staunch Berkeley hippie at this point!).
VDog (btw, you can see my letter here:

Anonymous said...

Dear McKay,

I just came across your posting about my gelateria. I was very unhappy to read about your impression of us. I wish you would have contacted us directly so that I could have solved the problem immediately, but I will try to do so now. I only stumbled upon your post while looking for something else.

First, I am glad you enjoy our product. We work very hard to make it. To address your problem with our policy it is simple, we screwed up that day. Our policy is that bambino size is for kids, but if an adult wants to get a bambino and pay piccolo price, we are happy to oblige. You mentioned that you accept this idea so we let you down.

You were also unhappy that there is no sign. To be honest I prefer a well trained staff over signs because people don’t read signs and they shouldn’t have to. On our menu next to bambino it reads, “just for kids.” You didn’t notice it and most people don’t either.

I will be sharing this information and your complaint with the staff of all five of our stores. I hope to earn your business back. If you have any questions please email me at I would very much like to speak to you in person.

Trevor Morris
General Manager
Gelateria Naia