Friday, January 20, 2012

Cafe Hoshi

NOTE: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the official policy or position of the California Conventions Blog.

As you will read in my report, I spent a good amount of time at Cafe Hoshi over the weekend of SacAnime Winter 2012, ranging from spending my first hours at the convention with the maid cafe to filming and photographing various events over that weekend.

You might of heard that during the VIP show Saturday night that the hotel and the convention got into a disagreement which resulted in a) food not being served at the VIP show and b) everyone migrating to the hotel buffet, Basil's, to be served instead. I was part of that of that group that migrated over and while were walking I was talking to the group behind me for some instant reaction, which was very negative at that moment. I would of stuck around to see what would of happened, but other commitments pulled me away from the VIP show.

There is something much deeper than what the attendees and everyone else saw that weekend, and I have obtained some leaked documents and testimonies from my sources close to Cafe Hoshi.

Apparently, this struggle between Cafe Hoshi and the Radisson/Woodlake hotel staff had started all the way back before the Summer 2011 convention. I remember the many complaints from that convention about the quality of the food during Cafe Hoshi's shows, and all the food came from the hotel itself. If we look at their catering menu, we can obviously see the inflated prices for such low-quality food that was either expired, lukewarm, or stale. After the Summer 2011 convention, the hotel and the convention sat down to negotiate bringing an outsider caterer to serve Cafe Hoshi. Naturally, most hotels want conventions and trade events to go through their catering services and if met with opposition there are stiff penalties for outside caterers. So all the proposals are filed, all the paperwork filled out, and everything seemed to be fine for the Winter 2012 convention. 

The real trouble started on Friday. I was in their first ever show of the convention, the Pastry Breakfast, and everything started to happen after I left. According to my sources, halfway through the lunch show, the second show, Jodon (Director of Programming) tells the staff that the hotel wants to shut the cafe down because it "wasn't what they thought it was." Eventually the hotel and the cafe worked out another compromise, but it was a compromise that should of been brought up months ago when the negotiations first started and not that morning/afternoon. There was also an issue over food safety, something I am aware of having worked at a sandwich shop for over four years and know a thing or two about the restaurant/fast food industry. The hotel wanted licenses for just about everything and the cafe provided them despite running around to grab every single piece of proof.

So now we get to Saturday, when everything blew up. As I squeezed myself in to cover the VIP show, everything had boiled over. By the time Jodon made the announcement over the microphone, the situation had reached critical mass. I cannot state the exact reason why the hotel pulled the plug on Cafe Hoshi's VIP show Saturday night, but all I can say what that the food came out too early. There were many options that the cafe could of taken, but with all these paying customers, the most logical thing was to take them over to Basil's, the hotel's restaurant. Despite the hotel staff's thoughts that the event went well at the buffet, the show in the eyes of Cafe Hoshi was awkward. Many of the attendees who heard about the news either demanded refunds or didn't make the trip over to Basil's.

By the end of the weekend, Cafe Hoshi had spent over 34% more than their original allocated budget and lost money as a result. Keep in mind that these ladies and the ones that support Cafe Hoshi are all on a volunteer basis. They've shredded their share of blood, sweat, and tears just as I have with my blog for the past five years. Despite everything that had happened to them that weekend, they were still putting smiles and being friendly as ever which I had documented in my extended look at Cafe Hoshi. These girls didn't deserve to go through the abyss that was the drama between the convention and the hotel staff; all they wanted to do it serve food, play games, and dance around.

I remember talking to one of the Cafe Hoshi support staff after the announcement had been made that SacAnime would be moving to the Sacramento Convention Center in Summer 2013. To him, it wasn't about moving to a better location with the capacity to hold a growing convention; all he wanted to do was to get out of his disaster. I definitively agree with this statement because I do not want to see these girls go through the nightmare and this ordeal again.

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