The few times I’ve been to Pause Café I was dismayed by their slow inattentive service. The place is remarkably understaffed.
The food isn’t great either.
Nonetheless I kept on going back. It’s not easy to find an open air café away from traffic noise and the imposing cloud of car exhausts. Not in Heliopolis anyway.
Conveniently located at the old airport’s Air Mall, Pause offers its visitors the type of fresh air they so desperately lack. Even the shisha smoke isn’t that disturbing to nonsmokers due to the fresh breeze evident at the place, especially if you are sitting closer to the small fence surrounding the café.
While modern furniture characterizes its stuffy indoor seating area, couches and bamboo chairs set around low tables are perfect for groups of six or eight outdoors.
But the last time I went, I discovered that what I thought was bad service was the best the place can offer.
Accompanied by a friend, we were welcomed at the entrance by a waiter who showed us to our table.
Little did we know that this offset our struggle to get his or any other waiter’s attention.
The place was relatively empty. It was 7:20 pm. We weren’t expecting anything fancy, just water, coffee, juice and maybe dessert later in the evening.
But as we gradually discovered, getting the menu wasn’t a simple request. After repeatedly asking for the menu and then desperately for a glass of water – we were thirsty damn it – to no avail, we started to get angry.
My friend, who miraculously managed to get the shisha boy to bring her one flavored shisha, got up, walked up to the gathering of waiters and politely asked for a menu and a glass of water.
Their response was shocking to say the least.
They told my friend that the next shift starts at 8 pm and so they couldn’t give us service now.
My friend, trying to stay cool – we were going out with the intent of having fun or at least unwinding from a stressful week – told me what she was told. We pretended we didn’t hear anything and acted as if nothing had happened. Enjoy the night, we told ourselves.
But when we saw the head waiter, we thought maybe if we told him what his staff were doing, he would apologize and get us a glass of water.
But we were wrong.
He simply repeated what they said. Shocked, we asked why the waiter who showed us to our table didn’t tell us this at the beginning. With the same causal air and calam attitude he answered that they couldn’t possibly deny us service once we showed up at their café.
How ironic, we thought. He did nothing but deny us service.
The head waiter impatiently repeated that if it is a glass of water that we want, he’ll get us one. But for any other request, including the menu, we would have to wait for the 8 pm shift to begin. If we didn’t like it, he could gladly bring us our check.
We opted for the check. It was 7:59 pm, the new shift was nowhere in sight and to say that we were offended by the take-it-or-leave-it attitude is an understatement.
It took him another 10 or 15 minutes to get us the check for the overpriced shisha – about LE 8. I wish I could write down the prices of other offerings like drinks or savory dishes, but they didn’t even want to give us the menu.
As we walked out the door, we still didn’t spot any new waiters from the promised new shift.
We left trying to find another place with outdoor seating and better service in Heliopolis, which I discovered isn’t that difficult to find. But that’s another review.