Monday, September 17, 2007

Cafe Gratitude's True Colours?

I am disappointed, again...
"We invite you to step inside and enjoy being someone who chooses; loving your life, adoring yourself, accepting the world, being generous and grateful everyday, and experiencing being provided for." Cafe Gratitude Website
My friend Enidd sat at a table, alone, in Cafe Gratitude, quietly crying. She and her husband had just been violently mugged, nearby, in San Francisco's Mission District. Left with no money, no credit cards, no phones and no engagement ring, they dived into Cafe Gratitude to seek help. Whilst Enidd's husband made a call to the police on a cell phone provided by a kindly customer, Enidd sat and waited.

Not one member of Cafe Gratitude's staff did anything at all. At the very least you might have expected a Cafe which prides itself on its caring principles to have one of its staff offer a word of comfort. Or how about a cup of the "i am caring" tea that is listed on their menu?

I am caring, bullshit. Cafe Gratitude, pah.

2006 | Savory San Francisco
2004 | Keanu Reeves on Belden Alley

© 2007 Sam Breach
Cafe Gratitude's True Colours?


  • At 17/9/07 01:03, Blogger Beccy said…

    I couldn't belive the lack of compassion shown to enidd and the man at Cafe Gratitude after their awful experience.

  • At 17/9/07 02:50, Blogger Deborah said…

    I know Beccy - I was so mad after reading that... almost more angry at the lack of compassion there than at the muggers themselves. Bravo for highlighting it Sam!

  • At 17/9/07 05:10, Blogger Toffeeapple said…

    How thoughtless - you'd expect staff to have had extra training in caring if that is the stated mission of the café. I feel so sad for Enidd (is she Welsh like me?) and her husband. What is the world coming too??

  • At 17/9/07 06:05, Anonymous Lisa said…

    I, also, could not believe it while reading enidd's post (and still can't!)
    It is safe to say I would NEVER set foot in such a place, and will encourage others not to, also.

  • At 17/9/07 06:16, Blogger Kevin Kossowan said…

    Wow. That really sucks.

  • At 17/9/07 06:38, Blogger ChrisB said…

    sam make sure you don't take me anywhere near that place when I visit -I just might tell them what I think about their 'uncaring' attitude!

  • At 17/9/07 06:43, Anonymous la cubana gringa said…

    I fully agree. It's astonishing.

  • At 17/9/07 09:09, Anonymous enidd said…

    thanks for posting this, sam. your initial review was so on the mark - if enidd had read it, she might have avoided the place, even when it was the only port in a storm.

    now enjoy your holiday!

  • At 17/9/07 10:18, Blogger Amy Sherman said…

    See what eating too much raw food will do to you? Wishing your friends all the best and a virtual cup of tea and sympathy.

  • At 17/9/07 10:23, Blogger Monkey Wrangler said…

    maybe they can put an asterisk after their name....

    *please note, caring will only be furnished if our business is benefitted by the transaction.

    Nice reporting Sam.

  • At 17/9/07 14:19, Anonymous Karmyn R said…

    My heart broke for Enidd when I read her account. I hope more people read this and avoid that place.

    Enjoy your trip visiting family!

  • At 17/9/07 14:21, Blogger Pieds Des Anges said…

    How rude! To think that hospitality was once a sacred duty.

  • At 17/9/07 15:01, Blogger Dee said…

    what a horrible establishment, I hope that the staff and owner change their outlook...

  • At 17/9/07 16:55, Anonymous Diane said…

    I recently ate here for the first time, and while the rice bowl with black rice was quite tasty, I cannot stomach a place that makes you order in this way - "I am caring...(beatific smile from waitress)..."you ARE caring". Blecch. How about - "I am hungry," "I am cynical," I am "grumpy".

    This is a very sad story. I hope your friend is OK and doing a bit better. Very scary.

  • At 17/9/07 17:24, Anonymous Rose said…

    Wow, what an awful and frightening experience. I can't believe they would have ripped her engagement ring off her finger.

    It makes me even more sad that it happened here in San Francisco. I've been treated with such kindness and generosity while living and traveling in the rest of the world, and I feel doubly angry, and embarrassed, and sad when things like this happen here. I wish I could have been there to show her the kindness she deserved.

    On Cafe Gratitude: I've been there a couple of times with my mother who, despite her penchant for anything vegan, raw, natural, or generally "California granola-ish," decided she "liked the idea of it a lot better than the actual thing."

  • At 17/9/07 20:11, Blogger Zoomie said…

    Shame on them! I'm truly embarrassed for our city that anyone should a) be mugged and b) be treated with such callousness here.

  • At 17/9/07 23:51, Anonymous tshane said…

    My best to the violated couple. May they grow closer and stronger. Sam and I agree on the "Gratitude" experience.

    Nuff said.

  • At 18/9/07 07:23, Blogger Chez Denise et Laudalino said…

    This is a terrible story & it happens so close to home! I often wondered about that cafe and we have yet to go - well, now we will NOT go! Wishing your friends the best.

  • At 18/9/07 15:19, Blogger Stefania said…

    Terrible attitude to go along with their terrible food.

  • At 18/9/07 16:29, Blogger Dive said…

    This is not an excuse for Cafe Gratitude, but to be fair all of us see things happen in this city that we don't want to get involved with. It's very possible that the staff at CG would've assisted Enidd had not someone already offered the use of his phone. And...I know this sounds just awful, but CG isn't in business to be a support center. They don't really owe it to anyone to comp them free tea just because they were the 20th person to get mugged in gang territory that day (20th Street is perhaps the worst street in the whole city for gang crime - again, sorry, but duh!) Nevertheless, it still would've been the kind and considerate thing to do.

    I don't mean to sound heartless, but this is a major metropolitan city in a capitalist, "I've got mine, screw you" society and we have problems...much of them to do with greed and apathy. Unfortunately, Cafe Gratitude's attitude is normal.

    It just sucks to be in someone like Enidd's shoes and have to realize that, right then right there in that situation.

    I hope she and her partner are okay, and I wish them the best. Also, I hope that by being the contrarian I am I'm not offending you Sam. I just wanted to add my two cents...and now they're spent.


  • At 18/9/07 17:24, Anonymous Diane said…


    Noooooo...they don't "owe" them tea. But looking at it totally coldly and from the bottom line - what is a better businss decision - to give the traumatized couple sympathy (costs nothing) and tea (costs pennies), and to have them spread the word of a wonderful experience to all their friends. Or to do nothing - and also to have them spread the word to all their friends. What's going to bring customers to their door? What will turn them away?

    Everyone is a potential future customer. A business must be aware it is always marketing itself. To treat people badly - well, setting aside the bad juju of it - maybe they have so much money pouring in they don't need these customers, or the ripple effect from anyone they talk to. Maybe they are in business solely for the navel-gazing aspect of it all, and don't actually care about foot traffic, reputation, or future income.

    Stranger things have happened.

  • At 18/9/07 22:41, Blogger Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic said…

    Fugh. This is just disgusting. Hell, when my family car broke down on a Wisconsin highway back in the 80s, a "po-dunk" all-night diner kept my mother in coffee and us kids in treats until my dad arrived from Minnesota to pick us up. My mother tried to pay them several times but they just waved it away.

    A friend of mine stupidly wandered into Cabrini Green and a cab stopped to pick him up. My friend -- not getting where he was -- waved the guy away but the cabbie refused to let him keep walking and also refused payment. He might have saved his life.

    Cafe Gratitude may not technically "owe" Enidd and her husband anything, but you'd think a place like that would be thinking more along the karmic debt side of things. Okay, so Cafe Gratitude didn't sacrifice minor ducats on giving Enidd and Mr. Enidd a cup of sympathy but you know what they did sacrifice? A whole lot of customers.

    As for the reality that they are a business in a capitalist society? If you read CG's fey website, you'll see that that their founder has this to say about himself:

    "What he shares isn't positive thinking, it is about developing the ability to go beyond our own petty wants and desires to connect with the grandeur of all of life.

    Although there is no solid evidence that his wealth is a result of his practice, he is willing to invest his assets into sharing this abundance practice with others around the world. He is a successful business man, loving husband, father of two and most importantly a man who celebrates and loves seeing others open up to receiving more than they could ever imagine."


    I've been before, the food was fine, but clearly the attitude stinks.

    Jesus. This is just sickening.

  • At 19/9/07 05:05, Anonymous mary said…

    Sickening is the right word. When I read this, tears welled up in my eyes. I've followed enidd's writing for months and months now (from way back in the Molvanian days), it's as if I know her and now I feel somehow responsible that something like this could happen to her here in the U.S.; my heart goes out to her and the man.


  • At 19/9/07 10:27, Blogger Del4yo said…

    It's not a question of place.
    If you see someone crying, anywhere, just ask if (s)he's OK.

    It's minimum.
    I never went to cafe gratitude ( I read your post about it a long time ago)

    And I will never go now that I read this new post!

  • At 20/9/07 06:58, Blogger Sally Lomax said…

    Don't you find in life, that so often money is the root cause of people's selfishness. It's vile! Poor Enidd and the Man.

  • At 20/9/07 23:19, Blogger Lisa said…

    Geez, finally got this to post...

    I sent the following to your friend (I AM glad you brought to light certain aspects of CG):

    "I once lived 2 blocks from where this happened (and I still live in the Mission ). When Cafe Gratitude first opened, a friend made a crack about opening Cafe Attitude across the street and I ran with the idea. We would serve classic, greasy American diner food like enormous hamburgers, greasy fired chicken, etc. Everything would be named crap like "I am Passive/Aggreesive," "I am Bitchy," "I am Pissed," etc. When the waitress would drop off your food, instead repeating back "You are (fill in the blank)," they would simply say "You suck!" or "Bite me!", such is my disdain for the place. The owners actually encourage their staff to attend Landmark Forum (think Ayn Rand with a hippie twist)and will pay for part of the course.

    I just thought that maybe you could use a slight chuckle in the face of an overwhelmingly horrific experience. My heart goes out to you. I have been in the backseat of a police car, NOT as criminal or suspect, and I know how horribly demeaning the experience can be. Best wishes!"

  • At 21/9/07 00:59, Anonymous leena! said…

    Everyone else has pretty much said all that can be said...I just want to say thanks for posting this. I find it disgusting when people are not willing to help out their fellow man, no matter where they are.

  • At 30/9/07 17:51, Blogger Eve Fox said…

    That's awful. I hope someone finally helped your friends... I've never been a big fan of Cafe Gratitude though it did spur a great idea for an alternative cafe... you can read about it here (on my blog):

    Hope your friends got things sorted out. It's nice to see that the owner responded, at least.

  • At 23/1/08 14:27, Blogger Ron said…

    Yeah, Someone or everyone dropped the ball. People make mistakes. people can do better....Even good people that are trying to make a difference in the world. My question is more to myself than the people at Cafe Gratitude, "will I only have compassion for those I feel are worthy, or will I have compassion for for each and every being, even those who offend my sensibilities?"
    I aspire though unsuccessfully to the later.


  • At 28/1/08 18:20, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    fuck y'all. i work at cafe' gratitude. im not greatful for any of you whiny bitches!

  • At 28/1/08 18:28, Blogger Sam said…

    Anonymous thus proving what we knew all along - all that 'nicey nicey' is just a front. For the CG staff at least. I am grateful that Terces' own responses were far more polite and considered.

  • At 28/1/08 18:30, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm sorry, but my son was recently diagnosed with incurable testicular cancer. We took him to Cafe gratitude every day for 6 months. He is now cured and is circling the block. THANK YOU CAFE GRATITUDE

  • At 18/2/08 13:52, Anonymous Ace said…

    Personally when I care in public or even around friends, I don't like people asking me if I am okay. Maybe the staff thought that or that maybe Ennid didn't want to draw attention to herself. Its possible. I am sorry that your friend had a bad experience there, but the CG that I went to had excellent service. Maybe you and your friend should give CG another chance, or to make sure this does not happen to someone else in the future, write them a letter about what happened and how disappointed you were!
    Its one thing to complain and another to do something about it (I say this assuming you didn't write a letter).

  • At 18/2/08 13:53, Anonymous Ace said…

    When I cry...

  • At 25/2/08 18:46, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You'd think with all the bleeding heart boo-hooing going on here that you guys would be the ones keeping CG in the pink. Dive has it right.

    And I can't help but be amused by the backlash against CG for daring to not offer someone tea when I'm sure you all frequent restaurants who get their meat from diseased animals and their produce from poisoned crops that are grown with no respect for the ground it comes from. Instead of waiting around and getting incensed from something that is conveniently set in front of you, examine yourselves and see yo truly has a "lack of compassion." Hippiecrites.

  • At 25/2/08 19:58, Blogger Sam said…

    Anon - you do make a good point. Thank you forputting our emotional outbursts into perspective. I try only to buy pasture/humanely raised meat myself as well as local fruit/vegetables from the farmers' market. And I now ask questions about where the meat comes from in restaurants too, tending not to eat meat in places I can't trust and preferring to support restaurants who I already know have good meat policies in place.
    I can not claim to be perfect - I am sure I sometimes fail in my endeavour, especially when dining with company in a restaurant that wouldn't be my first choice. But on the whole, contrary to your assertion, this is actually something I do spend a lot of time not just thinking about, but acting upon too. If you knew my blog a little better, you would soon understand that where my food comes from is an issue at the forefront of my mind. Always.

  • At 15/3/08 01:04, Anonymous Betty said…

    OH wow, you idiot, its not about anyone owing anyone anything. People dont owe anyone anything. When I do something for a friend or a stranger alike, I never expect shit. I don't do things because Im forced to or its "expected" of me, I do them because I want to. I do them because I do treat others the way I would like to be treated. There are still some human beings that function in this way. Some people extend thier hands becuase they could have been in a similar situation. Why not make someones day or show them that even strangers can care.

    I have asked a stranger on the street why she was crying (and yes I have lived in SF for 5 years and this was in sf) because when I saw the look in her eyes I really wanted to know if she was okay. She said it was nice to know that someone did care. Anyways, it made her feel a little better, and made me feel good that (despite the fact I didnt want it to be uncomfortable) I actually did something, anything in the world to show someone that sometimes strangers do care.

    I have been in situation where a random fellow asked me if I was okay (after I got off the phone and found out a loved one had passed away and I was walking through union square back home) and although I didnt want to pour my heart out to him, it brought a smile to face for a sec to know that "SOME PEOPLE DO CARE". Apparently just not the folks at gratitude. They could have offered a glass of tap water, a kleenex, a fucking smile or just a basic are you okay type deal. Apparently they spent all of thier energy being artificially nice to paying customers to have any left to offer a simple hello to someone who could have really used compassion in that moment.

    Gratitude doesn't "have to do shit"..... just like the government doesnt really have to tell us the truth. However if your business is supposedly built around positive engergy and spouts on and on about caring , nurturing yada yada, they should really practice what they preach.
    Be the change you want to see in the world for real. Set the fucking example. Sounds to me like its a sham.. superficialness of the fashion world exchanged for hippy vegans.

    As for you people commenting on evil meat eating restaraunts, shove it. If you were really open minded or thankful for this world you wouldnt force your judgement on others either..

    As for the GC backlash, honey just pick any review site like yelp and see that they are swimming in a sea of GC backlashers who went there and still gave it horrible reviews

    ANyways Im sorry that your friends had to go through that... really in any situtation like that my heart goes out and why did they have to take the rings. They will get what is coming to them.
    I would just like to say that not all of sf is like that there are many positive and real people here you just landed on the doorstep of one of the most superficial and fake places under a vegan eco friendly guise. I know this is an old blog, but I needed to comment.

    Best of luck to them in future travels.

  • At 10/4/08 03:03, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Well I'm not surprised with the staff attitude, it's all just business. All that stuff written on the walls and the hiring mngr tried to have an affair w/ my husband...Read the story:

    I'm very desappointed with the incident that happened today. After being a Cafe Gratitude's costumer for about 2 years, I recomended my husband to apply there for a second job, as we had a couple friends that use to work there.
    My husband called me saying that the hiring mngr "Star, " a wmn with dreadlocks, tried to "hook up" with with him, by litterally grabing his face to kiss and sticked her nasty hippie tongue up his mouth and saying she could "hook him up w/ a job and that they needed cute guys on the staff" She was already aware of him being married of a pregnant woman (me), because he was repeating it to her many times that he loves his wife. She asked him question as:"What? Don't you think I'm pretty? Or I don't believe you are married at your age; Prove it!" And grabbed his face to kiss him.
    In my opinion such despair coming from a person is already needy enough, but coming from a woman is so low!
    Poor woman... She is desperate to get some. ;)
    I'm not even concerned of anything as we just got married a couple weeks ago and our relationship is super loyal, but I'm just very desappointed with the kind of unprofessionalism that these manager brings to Cafe Gratitude's image. The place has great healthy and tasty food, but sometimes carries unprofessional staff as some of the female waiters use to show off unshaved arm pits (which is now prohibited). I would never accept to have an employee with such behavior, as it can cause the company to be sued for sexual harassement once the new victim is hired.

    Just wanted to bring to everyone attention with the hope these place will prosper as it betters its staff.

    The Pregant Wife.

  • At 2/10/08 00:00, Blogger said…

    Somehow I don't see the reason for this big rat-packing.

    2 people got mugged, went into a cafe to seek help, a fellow customer loaned them a phone, the guy is making a call on the phone while the woman is sitting there crying.

    Somehow, this makes the restaurant a bad place?

    It seems like someone has just gone on a mission to create vicious bloggery on Cafe Gratitude.. which has been a GREAT experience for me everytime I've gone. I'm edging toward live food & vegetarianism, and having what is some of the best tasting food EVER .. be actually vegan & mostly raw .. is pretty astounding, and a great help toward better diet.

  • At 5/8/09 12:30, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Here is more on how Café Gratitude pushes the Landmark Forum on their employees:

  • At 23/8/09 05:36, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    this is the kind of hippy bullshit that should stay in berkeley.

    not that 'hippy bullshit' is bad persay.
    however- in the 60s and 70s, 'hippy' was a derogatory term for TRENDOID POSEUR.
    much like HIPSTER.

    i cant believe this shit needs to be spelled out.
    hippy=hipster=trendy conformist by not conforming=hypocrite


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