Dan Fergus, the man who owns Montrose haunt Brasil, has had a lot of complaints lobbed at him over the years. Most of them involve paying customers attempting to linger at their tables during or after a meal, which has gotten more than a few people kicked out or simply bitched out.
"The owner has bitched at me several times because I wasn't consuming food fast enough or playing cards with a friend," wrote one Internet denizen four years ago on Citysearch. "I used to spend gobs of money there, but it's now on my boycott list."
"The owner told me to move inside because people that order food want to sit outside (I was drinking a latte that I had ordered five minutes earlier)," wrote a Yelp user about Brasil last year. "It's funny how one annoying/rude encounter can spoil a place for you..."
Complaints about service at Brasil continue through today. Whether or not these issues are the cause -- and it's hard to believe they're not related -- Brasil today confirmed that it's switching to full table service. Sort of.
Although Fergus was not available for comment when I called this morning, a manager named Brandon confirmed that Brasil would be switching to "not full table service" but "something like it."
"You can choose what you want to do," the manager said, sounding flustered and annoyed with the question before quickly getting off the phone. In short, it was the same type of conversation I typically have with the counter service at Brasil (which is as notorious as Fergus, thanks to the employees' often snippy attitudes).
So will Brasil now have full table service or not? That's a question that's still up in the air, although what's certain is that waitstaff is not the answer to Brasil's issues.
Brasil is a coffee shop first and foremost, where people linger -- happily -- over cups of coffee, scones, cookies, beer and wine on the two beautiful patios or in the cool, quiet confines of the main cafe. They also order food if you let them stay long enough, because the food is really quite good. They bring their friends and come for evening music performances and pack the house on weekend mornings when the line for breakfast is so long, you can finish The New York Times while you wait.
Brasil is doing all of that right. What it's not doing right is consistently alienating its regular customer base.