Centre City shopping complex in New Plymouth appears to be an organization with rigid tenancy rules, and more of that later, but Muffin Break endures its situation in close proximity to a host of competitive food outlets, and has managed to survive for a number of years, in spite of it.
The franchise layout resembles a dais some 6 metres across, surrounded by patrons’ tables and seating. Within that dais is the working whole of the operation. Advertising, ovens, microwaves, sandwich presses, coffee machine, freezers, shake-makers, dishwasher, storage, and a minimal area for completing transactions. But complete them, they do. With some 5 or 6 staff constantly circulating in a very confined area, the longest of queues seem to evaporate very quickly, and is a credit to whoever organizes staff training. The casual observer would expect mixed orders, burned or steamed fingers, bodily collisions in the narrow confines, crashes of broken crockery, even electrocution, but no, orders are taken, analyzed and swiftly delivered
A strict discipline is obvious. In the early days we used to refer to ordering as the ’20 Question Test’. Nowadays, we know better, and an order goes like this: Two Cajun chicken panini to eat here and heated, and one savory muffin to eat here, not heated, but with butter, not margarine, plus Earl Grey tea for two, without milk, and yes I have a coffee card and yes I would like a receipt thankyou.
It says much for Muffin Break, that although surrounded by competition – such as McDonalds - their food is relatively expensive. And we find it quite inconsistent, both in quality and in content. Various muffins can be stodgy one day, crumbly and light the next. Panini content seems to vary daily. In spite of the proximity of commercial ovens, nothing seems to be cooked or prepared on site, and we have noticed food being replenished (in cardboard boxes) from an unknown source. Wherever it is and whoever it is remains a mystery.
The close proximity of other food outlets enables patrons of, say, McDonalds, to claim Muffin Break seating as their own. Now, there’s the rub. Rumour has it that the Muffin Break franchise owner took exception to this commandeering of his costly space. Whatever the facts, he seems to have been banned from the premises, and has not been seen for some time.
New Plymouth is a small town with an abundance of mediocre eating places, so to sum up, I would think the success of Muffin Break lies in its fast service in a contrived environment. Taken away from that environment, and into the realities of commercial enterprise, it probably would not survive.
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