SINGAPORE — The opening of celebrity pastry chef Cedric Grolet’s first patisserie in Singapore last Thursday (Sept 14) was met with much fanfare, with customers reportedly lining up from as early as 6am and forming a snaking queue of about 80 people by the time the store opened at 8.30am.
There was also plenty of coverage in the days leading up to the store’s official opening, as various media outlets and online influencers shared positive reviews after attending exclusive previews.
However, despite the hype, Cedric Grolet Singapore has gotten mixed reviews on Google, earning a rather underwhelming score of 3.3 out of five stars from 68 submissions as of Tuesday afternoon.
Google reviews are online reviews and ratings that customers can publish about their experiences with a business on the Google search engine.
At least 25, or more than a third of the customers who left a Google review, gave the pastry shop a one-star rating, citing poor customer service, bad planning and an “unfair” queuing system as reasons for doing so. In contrast, 36 customers rated the store with a full five stars.
This despite both camps largely agreeing that some of the pastries were “the best they’ve had in their lives”.
The feedback given, however, seemed to reflect completely opposite experiences.
While most customers who gave a positive review praised the staff for being “helpful” and “friendly”, and were excited to be able to meet Mr Grolet in person at the store’s opening, some of those who gave low ratings claimed that the staff had “no respect towards the customers”.
One user “lidia lee” even accused Mr Grolet of being “so arrogant”.
“He simply ignored people (who) were out there queuing for several hours and just said ‘wake up early’,” the person wrote.
However, another user named “Loei Chan” said that the chef had been “exceptionally friendly and apologetic for the wait”.
Indeed, the majority of the complaints were about the store’s extremely long waiting time and perceived poor management of its queue.
Customer “FluffyUnicornz” was left “utterly disappointed” when they were left with only two items to choose from after having to queue for five and a half hours. A few other patrons also shared that they left empty-handed despite waiting for hours.
To resolve this, some people suggested that the patisserie should limit the number of items that each patron can purchase so that more people can enjoy the coveted pastries.
They also added that the employees could improve on their communication with waiting customers.
User “Theresa Wan” wrote: “The staff should have informed those queuing on what was available so that customers can make better use of their time if they aren’t interested in what’s left.”
Another user “Kerry Goh” claimed that even customers who had pre-ordered their items were made to wait at least half an hour to collect their pastries.
“I was told that the pre-order is for an estimate on how much they need to make. Apparently they have to pack it into a box which takes time,” she griped.
“Poor service after being let in from the long outdoor queue, expect to wait again to collect your pre-order. Their work processes and services need some real work.”
Some users, however, attributed the problems to “teething issues”.
Customer “Liyenne Goh”, who claims to have tried Mr Grolet’s pastries from the outlet in London, said that the Singapore store provided a “far better experience” and had pastries that taste better than the ones from the store at The Berkeley, a luxury hotel in London’s Knightsbridge area.
“(I) can see that (the chefs) are totally overwhelmed by the response and the number of people that turned up. They are unaccustomed to the way the people are buying in bulk. Understandably it’s opening day and the operating team is coping as best as they can,” she wrote.
“The long queue is expected but well worth the wait to see the World’s Best Pastry Chef in person and such a humble guy too! Will definitely be back again in a couple of weeks.”
Customer “TheOfficialFizzy” also came to the store’s defence, writing: “Don’t get why all the one-star with bad ratings (about) queuing and the service. If you all go to Rolex or those (boutique) shops, (you will) need to queue also what? Never complain? This is Cedric Grolet, not your neighbourhood bakery.”
He added that Singaporeans should “stop complaining” and learn to appreciate these “legendary people”.