I spent an early lunch on the lovely patio at Ascension Coffee today. The weather was perfect for a good scooter ride to the Design District, so I partook in Ascension’s deliciously balanced chemex pour-over and caprese style sandwich. Both were fantastic and soothing. I like this place. I wrote some pretty words about it when it first opened. Yet I struggle with the customer service and strict coffee etiquette they follow. (i.e. You can’t get a cortado to go, because it’s not a cortado if it’s not in a glass). Either who, while I enjoyed the breeze and city sounds overlooking Oak Lawn, I noticed a young man bring a valet stand over to the parking lot.
What? Is Ascension getting ready to host some kind of grand opening, jam-packed lunch gala? Even though there are only ~15 spaces in the small lot and not many options beyond that, the coffee-swilling aristocrats and happy hipsters inside Ascension didn’t seem to mind. Why does it need valet?
Over the course of 30 minutes, from about 11:20 a.m. to 11:50 a.m., I watched three cars depart in frustration after they were told to park along Hi Line Dr. if they weren’t going to use valet. Most of the spots were empty in the lot (see photo). To be fair, some folks just handed over their cars and strolled inside without any problems. Even so, I have some issues and questions. Although I didn’t get off my a** to ask the valet why the hell he was claiming domain over the small lot for lunchtime, it seems completely unnecessary to force valet upon patrons at a place that’s supposed to include comfort and convenience.
Ascension, I know you have nice food, but you’re not in an environment like downtown’s Stephen Pyles that truly needs (and makes) the best out of valet, since there isn’t any obvious parking nearby. There the streets are actually troublesome to move around. Has the opportunity to earn another buck for the valet company superseded the convenience and ease of use for Ascension patrons?
I have been a valet driver before, and I always like to tip well. There are times when it works and truly gives something of value to the customer. I just don’t see that need at Ascension. I think it’s just trying to project the image of a high traffic, established lunch spot. Or maybe Ascension is so service oriented and concerned for its customers that it doesn’t even want you to park your own car. In that case, somebody get a red carpet to distract me from the fact that valet is going to park my car 15 yards away from the front steps, and I’m still obligated to give a tip.
SideDishers, what do you think? Is valet too present lately?