Kalga Cafe – too busy for business

Ok, I really am trying to be reasonable about this, but I just can’t seem to shake this bitter nasty taste I’ve got in my mouth after my horrific experience at Kalga Cafe last night.

I even deliberately waited until after more than 15 hours and a solid night’s sleep to see if I felt any differently, but, alas, I’m still miffed and I must vent.

I remember when Kalga Cafe served delicious and aforable lentil soup and fresh organic salads for lunch. How sweet it was the day my friend and I ordered the soup of the day and the server informed us his mother had made it. I swear at that moment I could have eaten that soup everyday. Oh how I wax nostalgic for those heady lunch days; how disappointed I was when they stopped serving lunch, but I wasn’t ready to give up on them, their food was just too good.

And dinners! Suberb! And affordable! Mostly vegetarian, vegan for that matter, and absolutely mouth-wateringly (is that a word? I don’t care at this point – I’m in the middle of a rant) delicious.

So last night around 8:15pm my friend and I ventured to Kalga for some dinner. The sign as we entered encouraged us to seat ourselves. The vibe was happening! The music was softly thumping and the restaurant was full of those dreamy spices that instantly make me hungy.

We had just sat down. Granted, the place was busy. There are maybe 12 or 15 tables in the whole restaurant, plus a bar area seating, oh, maybe 8. The bar was empty and we took one of the 2 empty tables.

A server approached – not the kind sweet server who served us his mother’s homemade soup all those months ago mind you – asked us how we were doing, and then informed us that they were no longer serving.


There is a moment of silence as the words sink in; as the rain drips down my face from our 15 block walk and the hum and scent of Kalga tease me.

“You’re kicking us out?” is all I can manage to say in my shock and disbelief.

“Pretty much” says the server sheepishly. Then he mumbled something about them being busy and the wait would be immense or something. I really can’t say for sure because my love affair of Kalga ended at that very moment those ugly words left his lips, pretty much. pretty much. pretty much.

I cannot believe what my ears have just heard. Why, I ask you dear readers, why were we allowed to sit down? Why, my friends, did their sign welcome us with “OPEN”, why would they tease us so?

Sadly, being kicked out of a restaurant at 8:15pm on a Friday night for no other reason than the server feeling as those the place was too busy has completely changed my tune about Kalga.

I’ll drive by and wax poetic for the good old days. But I will NEVER set foot in that restaurant again.

8 Comments so far

  1. jonashpdx (unregistered) on January 7th, 2006 @ 3:06 pm

    that is the crappiest, weirdest thing i’ve heard in a while. there was no other explanation? their kitchen was open? WTF?

  2. Alex Williams (unregistered) on January 7th, 2006 @ 4:24 pm

    It’s amazing how so many restaurants in this town are run by people who have absolute no sense for customer service. Case in point at Kalga Cafe.

  3. pdxrocket (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 8:33 am

    Add ‘Cricket Cafe’ to that list. That restaurant acts like the “cat’s meow.” My wife and I entered that restaurant once and they told us they were full for the evening; even though they had five empty tables. NEVER will I return to that pompous place. I guess we didn’t have the right “look” to be seated.

  4. Portland Web Guide :: Portland Web Design (unregistered) on January 9th, 2006 @ 9:36 am

    Anybody have problems at the Delta Cafe in Woodstock?

  5. portlander (unregistered) on January 10th, 2006 @ 10:09 am

    other locales that have challenged my patience with bad service:

    Bold Sky – to cool for school attitude. Yeh, they’ll seat you, but never return as they have to attend to the discussion with the bartender for 25 minutes.

    Pasta Bangs – sure the restaurant is empty and we have 4 boths and 6 tables free, but no, you 2 people can’t sit in a booth – they are reserved for the bigger groups who may or may not show up.

    Equinox – see above reference to Pasta Bangs

    Higgins – more recently the “ignore the regular” routine since – well, they are a regular, we can get away with it.

    Thanh Tao off NE Sandy – throwing the menus down on the table isn’t a great way to start lunch

    La Cruda – formerly on SE Belmont – we called it la crud due to the famously horrible service. first time i walked out before receiving the meal.

  6. Marcy (unregistered) on January 13th, 2006 @ 1:35 am

    I’ve always had wonderful experiences with Kalga. I’m glad to hear they’ve become so busy. Would you have been less pissed if they’d let you stay and wait around for hours for food? If you’ve always gotten good service, why would it change? I don’t think your server was being “rude.” Perhaps he was giving you his best possible service. Also, I think he was the same one whose mother made that soup. That is years of serving you. Give the guy a break.

  7. Ms. Juju (unregistered) on January 13th, 2006 @ 7:03 am

    Actually, it most definitely was not the server whose mother made the soup – I am 100% positively sure this was most absolutely NOT the same server. And if I haven’t stressed that enough, may I say again, the server who pretty much kicked us out was not the same server. I’ve also gone to Kalga many times over the years, and my experiences and interactions with the owners and the particular server whose mother made the soup have been great.

    It’s just that there were at least a hundred different ways to handle the situation. How about “hey, we’re really busy. You’ll have to wait a long, long time. Do you think you’d want to stay?” How about “gosh, even though our posted hours say we’re open until 10:30pm, the chef is completely overwhelmed and asked me to ask you to come back another time”?

    Everyone I know, including myself, has, at one time or another been a server, or at the very least, worked extensively with the public. I understand being stressed, overworked and overwhelmed. I’m not looking to be treated with kid gloves, I just want to be treated respectfully.

    I suspect the server whose mother made the soup is probably linked directly to the owners. Further, I suspect anyone that invested in a restaurant would not pretty much boot out their patrons.

  8. Steve (unregistered) on January 21st, 2006 @ 2:29 pm

    I went to the Kalga when it first opened, and waited and waited for my food. I love the food. I love the atmosphere. But I know I have to wait. I never go there unless I’m not in a hurry to eat. It’s more of an experience that takes time :-) But I agree that your situation should have been handled differently. Perhaps the person was having a bad day. I for one will continue to go back, even if I have to wait, because i love, love, love that vegan pizza!

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