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Central Market: The Case of the Missing Buns

Earlier today, I received an e-mail from a reader who complained about a recent visit to Central Market. Hear him roar:

We have noticed over the past few months a general slippage in store quality. On our most recent trip, our frustration with the decline in quality came to a head when the bakery was out of the single most important item we needed – hamburger buns – at 3:00 p.m.

Frustrated by the lack of buns and a number of other irritating things I noticed walking through the store, I asked to speak with the store manager. While waiting for him in the bakery area, I noticed two other women also upset at the lack of hamburger buns. I told the women (none of us knew each other) that I was waiting for the manager to discuss the situation, and they decided to wait with me. During the 10 minutes it took for the manager, Steve Tarantino, to show up, we chatted and I learned that they were every bit as frustrated as me about the decline in store quality. In fact, one of them told me that she had just tried to buy some cheese, only to pick it up and discover that it had expired in November!

Hmm. Lack of buns has never been a problem for me, only a dream. Sorry, I’m off topic. I wrote the guy back and theorized that perhaps many people hit their outdoor grills on Saturday and caught the bakery department off guard. Then, low and behold, I find I am right! And souper scooped by our sorta own, Teresa Gubbins, who reported this stunning development. Meanwhile,  I put the bun-less customer in touch with CM and after a flurry of back-and-forth e-mails, it sounds like they have reached a peace agreement.

15 comments on “Central Market: The Case of the Missing Buns

  1. Maybe it’s just me, but it is possible to have hamburgers without hamburger buns. Hello brioche? Ciabatta or focaccia?

    But Whole Foods has pretty good, if not better, hamburger buns compared to CM.

    Then again, I’m also a simplist in that I enjoy Mrs. Baird’s for nearly everything. Just butter it, throw it on the grill, and it’ll have a toasty, buttery flavor you want with your burger.

  2. I am the bun complainant. I do appreciate Nancy putting part of my long letter to HEB up, but I want to be clear about one thing: my main gripe was not about the buns, but with the manager telling me “Good” when I told him that the general decline in store quality/selection over the prior few months has left me with no choice but to frequent Whole Foods more often. He then repeated that comment to another woman who was complaining to him after I had left the conversation.

    Have others noticed the slippage in quality at the Lovers Central Market? To me and my wife, it is pretty obvious. Each trip, we experience a different frustration.

  3. I’ve been to Lovers CM several times in the late afternoon and early evening and the bread selection is nearly gone!

  4. As a follow up, I just received a very nice call from someone at H-E-B corporate. We had a good, long conversation about my lengthy list of complaints. It’s nice to see that H-E-B is listening.

  5. Bun Guy- I completely agree, the quality of everything at Central Market has gone down since the new manager came on board. I live a few blocks away so it is a convenient place to shop but I too have been making the drive to Whole Foods. I hope your conversation with HEB corporate will result in some changes over at CM Lovers.

  6. Perhaps they misjudge supply and demand on occasion, but the breads are fresh and baked on premise. I must say the bakery staff has always been very polite and accommodating.

  7. CM Plano is slipping too, and over the strangest things. I asked for a Chilean Cabernet because it was highly rated and priced quite reasonably. I was told by the wine manager that they were forbidden to carry it even though it was carried by their distributor. The reason? Because it would offend Democrats. The winery in Chile is called “Palin,” pronounced Pah-leen. Oh puh-leeeze….

    I’ve also noticed on more than one occasion canned & jarred items on the shelf sitting past the expiration date. I’m shopping more at Whole Foods these days.

  8. I think the store is better than ever. Every week, I am so grateful to have this store 10 minutes from where I live. All stores during the holidays experience huge demands and they do their best to accomodate craziness. I have had some problems with out of date cheese, but come on, you gotta look and then ask for help if you need something. There’s always someone around who will help. Next time you get irate over something that isn’t right, imagine north Dallas without a CM and ponder HAVING to shop at Tom Thumb or Kroger exclusively. We get ripped off every week by TT’s and Kroger’s ridiculous mark up on food. And try looking for Mrs. Bairds at WF. You’ll never find a better all-over store in Dallas than CM. (And I don’t even work there…but I’m tempted to cause you get the cooking classes for free…)

  9. I love the addition of CM to the food climate as competition should cause the stores to flex their muscles to be king of the hill. However, last time I was at CM, all (and I mean all-I stopped looking sfter about 15!) of the 1/2 & 1/2 was 10 days past expiration. No excuse for that. Makes me wonder about other shortcuts which may be taking place.

  10. I agree that recently things are slipping at CM on Lovers. No Brussels sprouts? No oak lump charcoal? No fingerling potatoes? I’m lucky to live nearby, so Whole Foods and Kroger Mockingbird are good alternatives. Kroger now has surprisingly good selections.

  11. The Kroger at Mockingbird and Greenville is awsome! It’s bigger than a football field and has an entire natural foods store within the store – no, not just an aisle or two – an entire store! Normal groceries to the East and Natural Foods to the West. You gotta see it to believe it. That’s where I go to find Natural Cheetos (mmmm… the best).

  12. While CM is trying to take a “step-up” on the forthcoming new Whole Foods (on Park Lane) they have drastically lost touch with their customers and the quality of food has gone downhill. First big mistake was taking away their made to order sandwich bar. This was one of the most popular areas in the store and they made good stuff. They have since brought back their made to order sandwiches but you have to order at the new restaurant – and you don’t get to watch them make it.

    The restaurant addition was a bad decision. There are too many other quality restaurants in the area and the prices are pretty high!

    Since they have taken some of the popular salads/take home foods and placed them in the self-serve area, the quality of food has severely gone downhill. The freshness, cleanliness and the quality of the food has taken a huge step backward. Oh yeah, and they raised their prices. I guess to me $7.99/lb for a salad bar is too high.

    Put an Eatzi’s in the area with a bigger parking lot and all of these larger stores would lose out!

  13. I shop at Central Market and find great service with true satisfaction. I also went to Central Market and found no bread. I also have been to Central Market and not found my favorite dish. I do not find myself on the other hand wasting my time complaining but make time to not be a last minute shopper like you all and go when the product is fresh and ready and leave nothing to the last minute complainer. Early bird gets the warm.

  14. Live very close to CM and went there last Monday specifically to get bread and found no shortage of bread whatsoever. I asked for them to cut up a bagette, no problem. Didn’t notice any bread missing. The store is fabulous! Although they did make my Reuben sandwich with mustard, no cheese and put my 1000 island on the side. Next time, I’ll be very specific.

  15. If I had a big business, I might bribe a nearby competitor’s management to make sure his job performance whas at a less than ideal level. That would drive some of their customers to my business. If I had a big business. And I was devious.