Sunday, January 01, 2012

Comfortable at Country Style

Sometimes I enjoy being a good husband and letting my wife sleep in the mornings.  I wander off to a coffee shop early in the morning in search of breakfast, coffee and a newspaper.  I enjoy a nice quiet morning walk with little to no traffic to collect my thoughts for the day, wake up and get a little excercise in. 

My main destination targets tend to be McDonald's and Tim Horton's due to the better quality coffee and ease to walk to and from their nearby establishments. 

However, there are a couple of other coffee shops nearby that I do not frequent as often including Second Cup and Country Style.  These two chains lack certain items that I look for in a simple fast food breakfast locale. Second Cup has a wide selection of baked goods and interesting tasting cofees.  What it lacks is ready made foods similar to a McDonald's Egg McMuffin Sandwich.  Country Style's main issue is it's coffee.  Tim Horton's, McDonald's and Second Cup are way ahead in the coffee department.

This morning, New Years Day 2012, I headed off for a morning coffee and bagel.  I stopped off at Tim Horton's only to find it was closed until 8:00 A.M. this morning. I continued forth to Country Style (9218 Yonge Street, Richmond Hill)

I entered the location, recognizing a few familiar faces who hang out at the local Tim Horton's and was second in line to order.

The Order: Poppy Seed Bagel with Cream Cheese and a Medium Black Coffee.

The server took my order and then left the till to fill my order for coffee.  The other attendent came over and inquired what my order was and then punched it into the machine.  My only real gripe about this place is always inquiring about the customer's order.  At Tim Horton's, you order once and the computer screens tell the sandwich maker what to make, the coffee pourer what size and how you like your coffee.  At this Country Style I get asked "is that a bagel with butter on it? is that for here or to go?"  Meanwhile I have already told their employee who took my order exactly what I want and whether I was hanging out the restaurant or needing to dissappear out the door. 

But overall once the staff has all the information they need the service is pretty quick.  That is mainly because this location does not see the volume as the nearby McDonald's or Tim Horton's does.  But still it seems to hold it's own.

The food overall is quite good.  The bagels taste to be freshly made or at least on location unlike Tim Horton's or McDonald's which has product shipped in the local restaurant merely reheats it and/or just dumps it on the shelf. The cream cheese on the bagel is merely average to Tim Horton's. 

The coffee is where Country Style sets itself apart.  The coffee really is not that special and where the chain is handicapped.  McDonald's new coffee and Tim Horton's old standby recipe is where coffee drinkers go.  Country Style meanwhile has tried other ways to attract customers including adding frozen yogourt and "Bistro Deli" offerings.  As far as I can see based on my visits to the Richmond Hill location and the Aurora locations, this is not working.  It seems based on McDonald's experience that having a good brew of coffee is how a coffee shop can increase customer volume and sales. 

But all is not lost at Country Style, the chain has teamed up with the Toronto Sun to provide free newspapers in the Toronto area.  Sure the newspaper may not be the greatest, but at least at free it is the right price.  

Overall this Country Style location is mediocre at best, good bagels but subpar to mediocre coffee and service that needs a little improvement.  But for a quiet fast food breakfast place this location is not bad at all.

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