I've just come home from my 3rd or 4th tea at the Secret Garden. The teas there are lovely and the food is good (ok, it doesn't compare to the high teas available in England, but it's a pretty good effort for a Canadian shop).
But the service! It is so bad, that it occurred to me today that their poor service creates a great opportunity for someone to open a competitive tea shop near by and put these people out of business. I'd forgotten how bad the service was, but was soon reminded today, when I noticed that the same two scowling waitresses were working there as the last time I visited. These two women have this pained expression on their faces, like doing their job is a big favour to patrons. For example, I joined my party today after they had already ordered. I sat with them, waiting for a menu and for someone to take my order. I didn't mind waiting, as we were all chatting away, but finally a waitress came up to me and another late-comer, and asked in an exasperated tone if we were going to order or not. I said yes, we'd be happy to order, but we were just waiting to be offered menus, and for someone to ask for my order (the waitress was apologetic about her error, to her credit; but she shouldn't express exasperation to patrons in the first place). There were a couple of other examples of bad attitude, but it was more just their general moroseness (that may not be a real word, but I hope you get what I mean) that I found besmirched an otherwise a lovely afternoon tea experience.
I thought maybe I was being too hard on them, but I mentioned it to a friend who has gone there a lot because she lives in the area, and she wholeheartedly agreed, and started telling me her own stories of terrible service she's had there.
Anyway, if they just re-train or replace their two waitresses, or if no one opens a competitive tea shop, the Secret Garden should continue to do just fine.