I've eaten at 'City Bakery' since they were at their original location on 17th Street, and over time, it became THE place where I met friends; the baked goods were lovely, the atmosphere pleasant (particularly up in the balcony), and the location very central. The shop had an air of effortless, yet unrelenting efficiency that characterised similar establishments in Italy, where I grew up. I cannot precisely remember when things seemed... changed.
Suddenly, the staff was very different, more evocative of a Dunkin Donuts than a moderately upscale bake/coffee shop. The sense of efficiency was gone. The baked goods were frequently heavy or soggy, as if they'd been rushed into the oven without adequate rising time. The seats of some of the stools broke from their posts, and were not replaced. I came to dread going there. Last time (late November 2007), at least, the naked seat-post had been replaced with ordinary stools.
I know another branch of the bakery opened in LA, and the negative changes do date back to about the time that the owner was no longer around on a full-time basis; I also know that new business makes heavy demands of its owner. Still, it seems a shame to drop the ball on what was a really good thing.
Has anyone else noticed this? Any thoughts as to whether this slide is likely to be long-term?