Posts Tagged ‘Babycakes’

…then you're part of the precipitate

Thursday, 18 December 2008
Relatively speaking, it has been cold and raining a great deal in the San Diego area. Certainly it has been raining more than in most of the Decembers through which I've lived here, and possibly more than any other.

One good thing is that I get to wear my duster.

But my understanding is that Babycakes has been taking a hit from the weather, with fewer customers. I think that part of the issue is that, while the efforts of the owners to attract new customers have produced some positive results, the new customers whom they have attracted don't have a sense of attachment to the place; in the meantime, changes have weakened the sense of attachment held by the established customers.

For example, most of the indoor seating for customers is in a single, long room. The owners have tried to give things a cozier feeling be partitioning that room with curtains. But the rental computers are on one side of those curtains, and the tables used by those with note-book computers are on the other; practicalities divide friends, and thus the sense of the place as one where one is with friends is eroded.

I don't know how much actual business, over-all, is associated with the WLAN, but the quality of that network has been poor for weeks. The router was moved into a back-building to allow for renovation of the room in which the router was previously located. And that back-building seems to work largely as an insulating cage. In the front half of the main building and on the front patio, there is no longer any meaningful access to the WLAN. The signal is degraded even on the back patio, and it's only there that the WoW folk can get a sufficient signal for their purposes.

Anyway, in the absence of a stronger sense of attachment and in the context of the bad weather, people just don't come. (And the people who need a solid 'Net connection aren't typically going to set-up their computers where it is cold and wet.) I don't know where the balance is to be struck, but I think that the owners need to improvise quickly, to restore at least somewhat the relationship of their business to its established customers. I think that the baristi should be told to open or to close the partitioning curtains according to their judgment about what sort of customers are present, and I think that the wireless router needs to be moved out of the back building and into a more central location, perhaps in the second story of the main building.

Cupcake Economics

Monday, 22 September 2008

I notice that the cupcakes at Babycakes cost something like $2.75,[1] while those at Bread & Cie cost about $4.50.

Now, regardless of whether the cupcakes at Bread & Cie are in fact better than those at Babycakes, I am prompted to wonder about the effect on sales if Babycakes were to introduce higher-end, more expensive cupcakes, in parallel with the present line.

My guess is that it would hurt, that a significant number of people wouldn't buy the less expensive cupcakes in the presence of more expensive cupcakes, for fear of being thought cheap, and that customers wouldn't buy enough of the more expensive cupcakes to offset the loss of sales of the present line.


[1] Up-Date (2009:08/27): I notice that some people have come to my 'blog looking for the price of cupcakes at Babycakes. I therefore report that the price of cupcakes at Babycakes is now $3.00.

WLAN Woes

Monday, 22 September 2008

The on-going renovations at Babycakes now involve the room in which they had been keeping their WLAN router. The router apparently had to be moved.

Unfortunately, it has been moved pretty much as far back on the property as it can be while remaining in-doors. As a result, the back patio is just about the only part of the premises open to the public where one can get a good signal, though a few people have computers that can handle the signal that reaches the rear of the interior dining area. Those who do still get slow and unreliable connections.

I don't know why the router wasn't instead moved into the attic or somesuch. I've heard some dark mutterings that the new owners no longer want to support a WLAN, but I've overheard one of them explicitly saying otherwise, and they strike me as honest guys. Further, I think that they have made a practice of preännouncing every prior change that they thought might disturb customers, rather that yanking rugs out from under anyone.

In any case, after a few days of the new arrangement, I noticed that there are now far fewer people in the place at night. I cannot say with certainty that this results from the withdrawal of the WLAN, but that's my inference. It's a pity because I had noticed business picking-up significantly in the days prior to this change.

Tora! Tora! Tora!

Monday, 1 September 2008

Phillip made a surprise appearance at Babycakes yester-day. When I called him earlier, he gave no hint that he was in San Diego (as opposed to the Solipsistic Bay Area). During the course of our conversation, I walked from my home to Babycakes. I inferred from the noises from his end that he was running errands in his car. At some point, he was heard ordering coffee. Then I spotted him in Babycakes; he had ordered the coffee there.

Phillip hadn't been told of my mutton-chop sideburns, but now understands indeed what sort of change to my appearance has been effected such that a few people have since failed to recognize me. (For his part, Phillip has grown a mustache and goatee.)

Setting aside further discourse on what is and should be called the Midwest, I guess that the largest part of our conversation involved politics. (Phillip and I disagree on many issues, but neither of us looks forward to the next Administration, as we both see the two major-party candidates as each a technocratic centrist not really all that much different from his opponent.) We also talked about mutual friends, at least one of whom Phillip hopes to rope into hanging-out somewhere during his visit, about relatives, about the changes at Babycakes, about computers, and about hats.

Our conversation continued until Babycakes closed; we went thence to City Deli for a late dinner. Afterwards, we walked back to where he'd parked and talked until about 01:40.

You're just too physical physical to me

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Although I was told that the baby grand piano of David's Coffee Place would be replaced by an upright piano at Babycakes, the latest that I'd heard is that they'd since determined not to do this. Now, I'm not sure that they've really determined against it; it may be merely that they are postponing installation of the upright piano until after renovation of the south room (in which the baby grand piano used to be).

I don't actually know where the mass of opinion is amongst the present customer base. Chris, the regular pianist, used to do 90-minute medleys, drawing largely upon popular music from the age of Gershwin and Porter. Some people find it hard to connect to such music, and for them it was made harder still because Chris chose other than dance arrangements. Many people are only comfortable with music with the rhythms of dance, even if no one is going to be dancing.

The other thing that has happened, musically, at Babycakes, is that they are drawing on a different sort of music for the sound system, and playing it much louder. I was told that this change was because they now sell beer and wine, as opposed to being just a coffee place. I'm not sure how to interpret this reasoning unless the idea is that, because they sell some of the same product as would a bar, they feel that their music should be more like that of a bar.

On this score, I can tell where the mass of opinion is amongst the present customer base; it's mostly negative. People want to be able to converse without raising their voices, and they're not pleased to have the sins of the '70s and '80s return.

Now, I refer to the present customer base, because the new owners presumably want a larger customer base, and that may mean a very different customer base. None-the-less, I don't think that many people are particularly going to want to shout over Olivia Newton John as they sip merlot or nibble on raspberry tarts.

Park Place

Monday, 11 August 2008

I am compelled to correct a claim that I made about Babycakes. Rather than simply sacrificing their parking in order to expand their patio, they have actually installed a very nice moveable partition; which has at least two possible configurations, one of which provides a larger patio but no parking, the other of which provides parking and less patio space. I believe that they can move the partition in a matter of a few minutes, and yet it looks permanent in either configuration.

I did not get to Babycakes last night until shortly after 21:00, at which time the pool was partially drained and any whipped cream boys were long gone, so I didn't take any photos. However, I was told by a barista and by one of the owners that photos were on-line. I believe that these can be found at their MySpace.

Something in the Oven

Saturday, 9 August 2008

I was skimming a summary of the log for this website, and noticed a few hits from various searches for babycakes. This prompted me to do my own search for babycakes, which revealed one or more baked-goods firms doing business by that name, doing inter-state business, or with a presence in California. That means that if the local Babycakes hasn't licensed the name, then there could be a trade-mark battle.

In any case, Babycakes continues to transform the site. In my opinion, most of the physical changes make the place more appealing. A change largely effected to-day reflects considerable confidence, though it may represent a miscalculation; specifically, they have extended the front patio by eliminating the meager parking. [Correction (2008:08/12): The parking wasn't permanently eliminated. Rather, a reconfigurable partition has been installed, which allows the patio area to be extended or contracted.]

I was told a few days ago that peculiar things will be happening at Babycakes to-morrow. Reference was made to a pool and to whipped cream boys. I may not get there until after such events (I didn't get to the place until almost 22:00 on Saturday), but I'll bring a camera if I think that I have a chance of capturing images.

Babycakes

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

David's Coffee Place is apparently now replaced with Babycakes. [image of the front exterior of Babycakes] An expert came and inspected the piano, which is being sold.

Again, I regret these changes, though in most cases the new owners may be making the best choices available to them.

Meanwhile, a block-and-a-half north, a place named Mille Feuille is scheduled to open in August. They advertise themselves primarily as a chocolatier and bakery, but apparently will be offering tea and sandwiches as well. Since Babycakes has been envisioned as having more in the way of desserts and baked goods than David's Coffee Place, and as more of a restaurant, the appearance of Mille Feuille may be a problem for them. (There are many other restaurants in the immediate area, but Mille Feuille seems to be closer in intended product mix.)

Addendum (23 July): The piano that is being sold is a baby grand (in fact, an especially small baby grand, but with a good lower range). I was informed last night that Babycakes has an upright piano that they will be putting into service. (The notion being that it will take less floor space.)

Had Their Day

Friday, 23 May 2008

David's Coffee Place, transitioning to Babycakes (or perhaps to Babycakes @ David's Coffee Place), now has a notice posted on the entrance door, quoting local health regulations, and declaring that companion animals other than service animals will no longer be permitted in the building or on the patio.

Any reasonable response to this change must turn upon how one feels about the more general change of the business. There is little question that local officials will be more zealous about enforcing such things as the quoted regulations if that general change is made.

And I don't know whether David's Coffee Place as I first knew it could have survived. (Certainly no one has shown the accounting books to me.)

No Place for David

Sunday, 30 March 2008

David's Coffee Place in Hillcrest has a rear patio and some sort of back room which have long provided meeting places for chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous and similar organizations. Yester-day, I learned that the new owners have applied or will be applying for a license to sell beer and wine. To-day I saw a notice on the front door declaring that, beginning on 1 May, the patio and back-room will be remodelled and no longer available for such meetings.

The notice also indicates that Babycakes is imagined as a bakery and bistro.

David's Coffee Place has been around for about 15 years, but it has only been a few weeks since I started hanging-out here. Now it is apparently to be gentrified. Perhaps I should be glad that I didn't have more time to get attached to it.