Is the cafe's decor 'distressed,' or ought I be as a customer?
So Melbourne has developed a rather cool style of cafe that I guess you would call 'distressed.' You know the kind; heaps of recycled timber furniture, exposed brick, chipped paint, concrete floors, big old communal table; that kind of thing. A lot of places carry it off well. Really well. See: BBB, St Ali, Auction Roooms, for example. Props to MD for making it cool at his bar. The question is where, exactly, does 'distressed' become dilapidated?
I think that I found the answer earlier in the week. I turned up to a cafe that shall remain nameless and ordered a coffee; to give the barista a bit of slack, I even ordered a milk-based drink. I went to help myself to a glass of water and noticed that the cheapass duralex glasses were utterly filthy, with so many scratches that they started to move beyond being beaten up and towards almost looking like they had been scratched in a regular pattern. As I tilted the glass to take a drink, the light caught it and I noticed a definite brown tint and some dried milk stains on it. These glasses had clearly been in the game for several years and had clearly never been looked after. I looked around the cafe and it continued the theme. The floor was filthy, the glass cabinets scratched and the wall speckled with milk spittle. Finally, my coffee arrived, with an extra helping of attitude. I took two sips. It was ashy and acrid. I got up to pay for the coffee and leave. $3.50. Tightarses always try to gouge that extra thirty or forty cents out of you, but refusing to spend fifty or sixty cents on new duralex glasses every now and then really is going above and beyond.
You know, I'll go to pretty much any cafe if the coffee is decent, but in this case, I don't see the maths working out:
Undrinkable coffee + unpleasant staff + unhygenic glassware + dirty surrounds = premium price?
An extreme example, to be sure, but at least I have established my own answer to the difference between distressed and dilapidated. Clearly, though, the market thought otherwise - the place was packed.