16 Things Your Spoke Employee Wants You to Know

I’ve worked at the Spoke for almost two years now, and I love it. The managers are great, the location couldn’t be more convenient, and best of all, I have never been yelled at by a customer! Believe me, I know how rare that is, and I appreciate it. But as great as I have it, there are still a few things I wish that customers knew, to make my life—and their lives—a little bit easier.

1. We’re like Cerberus, or Fluffy—we have three heads

I didn’t entirely realize this until I started working here, but the Spoke is a lot more than just the café. You’d be forgiven for misunderstanding, since people mostly only talk about the bagels, but while the café might be the busiest, they’re far from the whole operation. The kitchen is also the Spoke. The bar is also also the Spoke. Together, we make a whole wheel.

2. Extra mayo? Extra may-no.

The request that inspired this entire article: please ask your cashier for any extra side sauces, not the expo person handing you your food. Especially during a rush, it can be really disorienting to have to remember which person asked for the sauce, which sauce, have you given it out yet, did you bump their order already… If you ask the cashier, they can punch it in, it’ll be listed on your order and handed out to you with your food—much simpler and quicker!

3. Specify mods before your order is sent

Please ask your cashier for any modifications before you pay. Once the order has been put through and you have your receipt, we can no longer edit it directly. We can let the relevant people know, but again, having it on the screen makes it so that everyone at every point is aware of what your order should be.

4. We can’t punch in modifications halfway through an item

When punching in a combo or a bagel-wich, there’s a specific order in which we’re presented with the options. If you order a veggie bagel with no sprouts—the cashier cannot punch in the no sprouts until they have the type of bagel and then the spread.

5. We have a credit minimum

Credit can only be used for purchases over $5, as each transaction incurs a fee. Debit is fine, as are student cards, cash, gift cards—though we don’t take Hospitality Services gift cards, only gift cards for the Wave and Spoke.

6. You paid for your drink—take it with you!

You’d be amazed by how many people forget to take their drink. I’ve gotten into the habit of pushing the cup forward when I hand over the receipt, but I still have at least a couple every shift who almost walk off without it.

7. Unless you’re literally just getting a drink, you need your receipt

Your receipt is how we can confirm you are getting the correct order, particularly if it’s busy or multiple people have ordered the same thing. Your number is the last two digits on your Spoke receipt (not the credit receipt).

8. Number 37, I can literally see you texting and I cannot call your number any louder without screaming

Please, for the love of god, listen for your order number. We don’t expect you to give us your undivided attention the whole time we’re making your order, but if you’ve got headphones in and you’re staring at your phone when we call your order four times… well, it can be frustrating. Particularly when it usually means that in five minutes the person in question will come up and ask if we’ve called their order yet. If you’re going to the bathroom or grabbing something from the bar, let us know!

9. Help us avoid receipt snowdrifts

You can probably imagine that we go through a lot of receipts in a day (or in an hour). If you don’t want to keep your receipt after you get your food, please dispose of them properly rather than leaving them on the counter—they can really pile up! We generally have a spike at the café and a pitcher at the kitchen where you can leave them, or just toss them in the garbage on your way out.

10. Whatever your order is – we’ve seen weirder

Every now and then someone will end their order with, “I’m sure that sounds weird.” Hate to break it to you, but your buffalo wrap with barbeque instead of buff sauce isn’t that weird. Your quesadilla with no cheese (or as I like to call it, a “dilla”) is only a little weird. There are even multiple people who order cinnamon raisin bagels with cucumber dill cream cheese. Nothing fazes me anymore (okay, maybe that last one fazes me a little). It’s not my job to judge your food choices—it’s just my job to make it happen.

11. Some veg-friendly hacks

If you don’t eat dairy, you’re more than welcome to try out a “dilla,” but if that’s a little plain for you we also do have vegan cheese available. Or throw it on a Beyond Meat burger, which is made with our new vegan chipotle mayo. And another useful vege-tip: the chilli and the gravy are both vegan!

12. We can’t separate nacho veg or pico

Our nacho veg, made up of diced tomatoes, green peppers and onions, is mixed together during prep. Likewise for our pico de gallo, made of diced tomatoes, onions, lime juice and cilantro. If you order nacho fries but don’t want the onions,we can’t really separate them out. We have diced tomatoes on their own, or we can give you caramelized onions or sliced red onions, but we don’t have green peppers separate.

13. Is that buffalo sauce or buffalo sauce?

We have two different things called “buffalo sauce.” Yes, it’s confusing for us too. We have the buffalo sauce we toss our buffalo fingers in—what we call “medium sauce,” and what is usually meant when someone requests a side of “buffalo sauce”—and we have the buffalo sauce we put on the buffalo wraps, which is milder and creamier.

14. Pizza takes patience

Yes, the person who ordered chicken fingers and fries five minutes after you got their food first. The chicken fingers and the fries were both already cooked; all we had to do was put them in a box. Pizza, on the other hand, is made to order, and it is slow. Very slow. It takes more than three minutes to cook in the ovens, and a similar amount of time to prepare before that. If you’ve been waiting five minutes, your pizza probably wouldn’t be ready even if you were the only person who had ordered anything in ten minutes and the entire kitchen was helping out of sheer boredom.

15. Try to pick up your ChowNow order when you say you will

Last year we launched a way to order online or through an app (variously called ChowNow or USC Eats). It’s handy for customers to be able to order even from in class and without waiting in line. We make your food and it’s ready when you come to pick it up. Sometimes people order online and come pick it up right away. Other times… it’s a little longer. Which can be awkward for items like poutine.

16. Tell us when you arrive

The other thing with ChowNow orders is that we don’t know when you’re here. Also, although you are given an “order number,” it’s completely independent from the numbering we use on our receipts and order screens. When you arrive, feel free to come right up and let the staff know you’re ready for pickup.

So that’s it! Sixteen things that you might not have known about our humble on-campus eatery. Tips, tricks, gripes, frequently asked questions, call them what you want. Hopefully you learned a little something. And hopefully you won’t ask the expo for an extra side of mayo in the middle of a lunch rush again. We forgive you for your past mistakes—you didn’t know any better. But don’t do it again.


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