Ocean Basket: FAIL

dead in the water    

Ocean Basket Kloof: dead in the water

Last night I experienced the best and the worst of franchise restaurants. Ordinarily, I avoid them like the plague but when one gets a late craving for sea-food and one is in the city bowl, you have few options at 10pm.

 Ocean Basket in Kloof street has the lousiest, most unprofessional staff I’ve ever had the misfortune of encountering. For nearly 5 minutes, my party and I stood waiting to be seated. Neither the chef (who was busy chatting on his cellphone) nor the 2 waiters who walked past us saw fit to alert the host/manager or seat us. It wasn’t as if the restaurant was busy. In fact, it wasn’t packed at all. This was clearly their way of trying to put on a consummate display of their complete and utter lack of professionalism and their absolute failure  to live up to their brand promise.

In stark contrast, Ocean Basket at the Waterfront welcomed us warmly and attended to us promptly and efficiently. Our waiter (a chap named Dawie – do ask for him by name) was attentive without being intrusive and helpful when it came to making suggestions to one of my party who was here on an overseas visit. We were greeted by the manager and all the staff and our dining experience was damned near perfect. 

The Ocean Basket in Kloof has seen the last of me. I will not return there and I would advise everyone to give it a miss. But if you’re looking for a really good, late night seafood meal (hey, you can’t fight a saganaki craving), your best bet is Ocean Basket in the Waterfront. What really bothers me is that in a world where sustainable success relies on ensuring that your client’s brand experience always matches the brand promise, there are still people who just couldn’t be bothered, who believe that “good enough” is “good enough”. I’ve got news for those people: you won’t be missed.


16 thoughts on “Ocean Basket: FAIL

  1. Mmmm.. yeah you and OB are not meant for each other.. welcome to the world of hospitality at its worst, franchising.. I spit at that word!

  2. Hi Bluefug83

    I’m not a big fan of franchise restaurants. That said, it’s the one time you should be able to receive the same brand experience no matter which outlet you choose. My personal opinion about Macdonalds’ products aside, it’s the franchised uniform brand-experience that’s been a key to their success. A Big Mac will be served to you the same way no matter where in the world you go. I just think that there are certain franchise-outlets (such as the Kloof Street outlet of Ocean Basket) that choose to trade in mediocrity while capitalising on the goodwill of the brand.

    Thanks for stopping by and thanks for commenting.

  3. I ❤ franchises. And I agree with you, Amod: franchises should deliver the same service and the same product.

    But did you speak to a manager? I get the best results when I send an email to the Head Office. A firm email with a dash of humour, mind you 😉

  4. I find it really cowardly that people can comment on a site that franchisees cannot reply to. i.e. hellpeter, this site etc. Why not bring it to the Franchises attention at head office level if you dont have the guts to face the managers/owners that are in store. How can they improve if they dont know??? And deal with the problems as they arise????? All franchises have a website that you can have your say!!! Be it Mac’s, KFC, CTFM or even as mentioned OB! As well as get a response from them….. There is always 2 sides to a story and both need to be heard! So in this “world of hospitality at its worst” lets make a difference and complain to the right people and get the service we deserve, and make the people who need to know aware so they can improve. I have managed many restaurants (though not any more) both franchise and private an welcomed any constructive critizism from the public to make my restaurant better. Maybe you should try it…. Alot of places i vowed never to go back to have become my favourite dining venues, and that only after i let the relevant people know.

  5. @ Divegal

    Firstly, thanks for stopping by and thanks for the comments.

    Your personal indictment on my character notwithstanding, the reason forums such as Hellopeter exist, is because businesses need to be publicly put to task for shoddy services and products. Without the possibility of poor publicity, the majority of companies are happy to file any and all complaints in the nearest dustbin, fobbing off the aggrieved party with a “Thank you for bringing this to our attention” and nothing ever being done about it.

    To your other point about not approaching the manager: there was no manager on hand to confront. Now, a key factor to success in a franchise business is that the brand-experience is the same throughout, regardless of the consumption point. If the manager of the Waterfront branch could meet me at the door (and his restaurant was significantly busier than the Kloof branch), why was I not afforded the same courtesy at the offending branch? If I need to wait to be seated by the “prompt and efficient” host of any Ocean Basket branch, why was there no host on hand?

    Finally, sites like Hellopeter (and this blog) allow for all the content to be searchable, so any business with a marketing or PR department worth its salt should be able to pick up on any complaints (it’s also a more convenient way to disseminate a message to friends without having to resort to the phone). This is a social media platform and everyone has the right to respond (much like you have done, I am doing and doubtless, many more will do). And on that note, I received a message from a gentleman representing Ocean Basket in Kloof yesterday inviting me to discuss the issue. I will keep all interested parties up to speed on what develops.

    Thanks again for your comments.

  6. @ Joy-Marie Cloete

    Thanks for stopping by.

    You know, I would have chatted to the manager, if I’d been able to find him/her.
    Like I said, I’m not a huge fan of franchises but I love Ocean Basket’s saganaki. I just can’t see myself returning to the Kloof street branch.

    Thanks for the comment.

    PS: Got a post coming up that I just KNOW you’re gonna like.

  7. ‘Tis a pleasure, Amod. I’m a customer care evangelist. And I’m surprised at Kloof Street Ocean Basket; I’ve always been happy with their service. They’re actually a family-run business from what I have heard.

  8. Thank you Amod. I will be visiting the said branch and give you feed back! Could be interesting! In the mean time I hope you take up said gentlemans offer and discuss the problem with him. I would love to see the outcome and response. Maybe you will change my ideas bout “these sites” 🙂 I would very much love to hear both sides.

    • Hi Divegal

      I’ve sent an email through to the gentleman and am awaiting a response from his side.
      Let’s see how this pans out.

      Thanks for stopping by.

  9. We are big fans of Ocean Basket Kloof Street and over many years have only ever had one bad experience there – a totally incompetent waiter. The following day I emailed the manager and received a very cordial response and a follow-up phone call inviting us to return at a time of our choosing for a meal on the house which we subsequently did. He was most appreciative of the feedback, even though it was negative as far as the service was concerned and in our opinion turned a bad situation around very professionally. We have been back since and have enjoyed the good food and service to which we were accustomed. We have been to the Waterfront OB a few times too but much prefer the laid back vibe, especially the garden at Kloof Street.

  10. talking of sucking… St. Hellmos comes to mind. Once I got a huge cricket baked in my pizza from the Hout bay branch. I bit into it and lifted a piece up to the screen (watching a dvd) in the semi darkness, thought OMG fishbone, went into the kitchen and lo and behold, cricket legs. I spat out the half chewed body and it was VILE. I complain and the manager tells me it must have “fell in” after the pizza was delivered because if it was in the oven it would have been incinerated. WHAT ? like the olives survived the oven, but a cricket with its hard shell would vapourize. He offered to refund my money, but made it very clear he did not believe me. I refused to take the money back and have NEVER GONE BACK. I WILL NEVER EAT ST. ELMOS anywhere EVER AGAIN. This happened a few years ago, and since then my refusal to eat at St. Elmos has lost them business on a few occasions with family and friends. It makes me feel good when I divert business away from them especially when there are 12 people or more involved. I even phoned the head office to complain because it pissed me off, they promised to get back to me, and NO they didn’t. They asked first if it was it the milnerton branch, because they had a problem with cockroaches. YUCK.

  11. Amod,

    I commend you on your objective appraisal of the two Ocean Basket experiences you had in Cape Town.

    Social media is indeed a leveraged voice to communicate poor service delivery.

    Unfortunately many ‘big’ local brands and franchise operators are consistently failing to deliver on basic service fundamentals. And exposing them via social media is to the consumers advantage – to at least be informed of poor service delivery at certain shops, restaurants and other vendors.

    Service staff default on brands due to a lack of true ownership (and operational supervision).

    I exposed a ‘big’ brand retailer on my website after consistent poor service delivery over a two year period. I did so after completing their online contact form and requesting the regional manager for contact. I basically pointed out the lack of in-store management responsibility and poor regional management accountability.


    Vernon Chalmers

    • Hi Vernon

      Your comment is right on point.
      Many businesses don’t seem to realise that it costs less to keep old customers than convert new ones.
      That path to profitability starts on the shop floor, not in the ad-agency boardroom.
      It’s all about keeping promises.

      I’d be very interested to know if you received any kind of resolution with the ‘big’ brand retailer with whom you tangled.

      Thanks for stopping by.

      PS: For the record, I was contacted by Ocean Basket management through an unofficial email address.
      I requested that we debate the case via email to record the conversation but never received a reply.

      • Arnod,

        Before making the experience public and completed the online customer services request form – and contacted the said department. I was informed that the regional manager would contact me the same day.

        Without any contact that day went preparing to publish the experience on my website – she phoned me about 36 hours later to discuss the matter. One of her suggestions was to come and see me to discuss my experience and suggestions. Never once did she took any responsibility / accountability during the conversation – I declined to meet.

        Since this incident I had a couple of really great retailer / supplier experiences in the Milnerton area. Realising again that it is very much the individual point of sale staff that provides for excellence in service when back-up by management systems and support. It can be done….


        Vernon Chalmers

  12. Dude, one word: Willoughby’s. There’s a reason they’re constantly busy… It’s a good reason, and the reason is good – food, service and vibe.

  13. In the past we have also had terrible service at the Kloof Street Ocean Baset. We decided to give them another try recently and were delighted with the service we received, which was friendly and helpful.

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