Falai: Full of Mean Girls?

Falai Panetteria, on Clinton Street, has become something of a standby for coffee and a snack when we're window shopping on the Lower East Side. It's a pleasant room to be in, and the food is good. But our visits there have always taken place in spite of one major deterrent: the service. Not that they're scattered or overwhelmed or forgetful, but in our experience, the servers have been more than unfriendly. They've been a little scary. Cups have been slammed down huffily. Innocent questions have been met with clear resentment. Even when the woman at the next table complimented one server on her dress, she received no thank you, no smile.

Since Caffe Falai opened on Lafayette in mid-January, we've been hearing similar reports from friends. One even left before eating, feeling degraded and ostracized. So we visited the new spot to do our own attitude check. For the first time, we had a server who smiled, said things like "sure" and "thanks." It was completely appropriate and didn't remind anyone of high school. Too bad we like the LES location better. But maybe the smiling will be contagious.

Caffe Falai 265 Lafayette Street (917) 338-6207

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