Friday, June 20, 2014

Sad times at the South Bend Farmers Market - can you help?

There is a lot on my mind today.  Our new restaurant manager/cook is devastating our business at the South Bend farmers market.  My receipts have dropped by about $200 per week since the new manager and head cook came in.  Many of the customers are complaining, the complaint box is overflowing, many people demand refunds.  And still the board stands behind the new restaurant manager, saying she is learning.  Our president and one board member disagree, but they are not a majority, and so the bad news just keeps getting worse.

I don't think the new manager/cook is learning a thing.  One of my (formerly) regular noontime customers decided to give breakfast a try Thursday (she's given up on lunches) and got eggs Benedict with an English muffin with mold on it.  One of the shareholders at the market got sausage gravy and biscuits in which the sausage was still pink.  How on earth did she make it?  All I can think is that she dropped raw sausage into simmering milk gravy and hoped for the best.  She claimed the problem was Sawyer's sausage, that it would not properly brown.  Say what?

Early on, she told me she needed to teach the people at the market how to appreciate good food.  I don't think so.   Somebody needs to teach her how to make good food, and if she can't learn, then she must be replaced before too much additional damage is done.
It saddens me to see our lunch counter going from full or close to it every day to nearly empty many days, and it hurts me financially when my noon-time shoppers are now going elsewhere for lunch.

I bring this up so publicly because if you are a customer of the Farmers Market, I am asking you to go in, have a meal, and if it is not good, go first to the complaint box at the office and register your complaint, and second, take the offending food to Mr. Hovencamp, who brought her in and continues to think she just needs another chance.  While we wait for her to "learn,"  (what's to learn about serving an English muffin with mold on it?), we are losing long-time customers, and some of them might never come back.  That saddens me.

In the meantime, I expanded to Purple Porch a couple of years ago, and that business continues to grow.  It is helping to fill the gap.  Recently I decided to get a booth at the new Granger Farmer's Market, and my shrinking revenues at the South Bend market had a lot to do with that.

Hopefully if enough of you long time fans of the South Bend Farmers Market complain, the board may wake up before it is too late.  I have complained to the board, I have complained directly to the new manager, I have put my opinions in the complaint box, and nothing seems to be working, not for me or any of the people who are complaining.  So I am taking it to Facebook.  I do not want to see a venerable old staple of our community go down in flames over this.  All it takes is getting a decent cook back into the restaurant and going back to good farm cooking like we have had for years.  And the sooner the better!


  1. Susan,
    Your post is unprofessional, incomplete, and rude. How dare you? What do you do to HELP the Market?
    It is too bad you do not use this energy toward good instead of a misguided agenda.
    How sad!

  2. Jody, originally I blew away this comment because I think it is misguided to say the least. And then I thought, well, if I refuse to publish it, then I am as bad as the board, who will not listen to us when we complain about the restaurant. So your comment is published.

    Unfortunately, the board continues to turn a deaf ear to us and to the customers who complain about the food. I did notice that they are starting to have more things on the menu that were what people were used to, although not cooked as well as Ernie could. I guess it is a first step. And I guess that the customers are teaching the new manager about good food, not vice versa.