It was nearing lunchtime as we left Macclesfield forest after a long walk in the last of the September sunshine. We could either turn right to Buxton or left to Macclesfield. Feeling hungry and remembering the owners of Altrincham Market and Mackie Mayor had opened the Picturedrome in Macclesfield, we headed there.
We followed the google maps down to the Picturedrome, found it easily enough but the entrance was fairly unassuming. It was only later when I came out and crossed the road that I looked back and saw the building façade looked great.
Obligatory face masks on and queueing in the florist shop at the front of the Picturedrome, we could only see the flowers and feel that we were getting in the way of the florist who was trying her best to move around the socially distanced queue safely. The queue moved quickly and we soon stepped into the top of the main hall of Macclesfield’s Picturedrome, first opened as a cinema in 1911. What a space. A huge hall was before us. We could see the 1985 Breakfast Club film being projected onto the back wall, the golden hanging lamps above long trestle tables and the food and drink outlets to the left side.
The queue was inevitable as the server at the front was ensuring everyone entering had downloaded and checked in on the NHS track and trace app and downloaded the Alt.Eats app, their very own app which you had to order and pay from. They also charged £1 service charge per person which meant we received a paper bag with cutlery, hygiene wipes and Tetra Pak water cartons. This felt both practical and reassuring to me hygiene-wise and surprised me that it’s the first place I have had this experience in the time of Corona. Once all the admin was complete, we were escorted down the ramp, to the far side where we had a table to ourselves due to social distancing measures. This felt great for us as we’d normally be hemmed in amongst other people.
We had downloaded the app easily, so once seated we could peruse it at our leisure. It’s a shame because amongst everything else, Covid-19 has stopped you mooching around the different outlets, to see and smell what could take your fancy. Instead, you have to scroll through a very functional but bland app to decide what to eat and drink. However, there was plenty of choice and we received our food relatively quickly. Of course with a venue like this, the bonus is that you can go with a group of friends and all order from different outlets bringing ultimate choice and convenience.
The Breakfast Club film ended and I was looking forward to what they might play next only to be disappointed to see that The Breakfast Club started playing again. Sure, customers aren’t going there to watch a film but it felt like they didn’t care what was showing. And there are other clues that point to a lack of care across the board. Once the server had shown us to the table, she didn’t offer to get us a high chair, or even show us where they were. Then when one of my water Tetra Paks inexplicably started leaking all over the table, it took me a while to find a server and when I did, they told me to use the free wet wipes in the brown paper bag to wipe it up. (the bag was more useful!) It feels like you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place if Covid dictates you stay at your table and yet you can’t get decent service from the members of staff. I also wonder how necessary the £1 service charge per person was as the servers bring you the food, so why not bring the cutlery etc. to you at the same time? Nobody likes to feel that they have been charged extra unjustly. Recent TripAdvisor reviews of all three venues: Altrincham markets, Mackie Mayor and Picturedrome also have disappointed customer reviews who complain of inattentive, sometimes unfriendly staff who don’t meet basic customer expectations.
These actions chip away at the overall customer experience and can impact the perceived value for money. It can also reduce a ‘funky, local, northern, quality eatery’ to a mere canteen.
Customer Experience Review