We have been eating here since this place opened.
At first, we were thrilled to have the kind of food so readily available to us in other big cities in which we've lived on our side of town; as a vegetarian/vegan couple it certainly seemed to most number of menu offerings in the city!
Unfortunately, despite developing an affinity for certain favorites (the taco salad, pizzettas, certain wraps and the red velvet cake are all extremely tasty), the rest of the menu is fairly uninspired and the grilled panini sandwiches kind of mushy and flavorless. (or I should say, the flavor of the mushy bread overwhelms the ingredients within).
The specials are ridiculously overpriced for what they are, and the prices in general are a bit high considering the scant use of organic ingredients, the overall starchy nature of most everything, and the reliance on commercial soy products for mock meats.....these things are of questionable nutritional value (other than being lower in saturated fats, cholesterol, maybe in calories) because they're highly processed forms of soy......which at that point yields a substance that may taste salty and chewy but is regarded by the body as something akin to plastic.
In a place like L.A., only the cheap quick vegan eateries do that. It allows them to keep prices low and find a middle ground on taste, texture, and presentation. Red Velvet Cafe, however, charges up the wazoo for these things ($15.00 or more for some soy fish on brown rice with some overcooked until shriveled, thin, bland asparagus? Really?).
Nevertheless. For the times when we were very busy and didn't want to deal with food prep (sometimes veggie food takes a lot of ingredients!) or when friends and family were in town we happily continued to frequent the place, and spent quite a lot of $$ along the way...especially when ordering the food in bulk for a party! WOW!!!$!$!$!
What has finally killed it for us, no matter how delicious that darn cake is, or how much I long for a turkey wrap that isn't Tofurkey (much as I love and should own stock in that stuff), is the absolutely appalling service!
NOT just when it's busy!
ALL THE TIME!
Starting with the chef/owner. While her husband is gracious and engaging, helpful and affable, she has never once smiled at me in all the times I've been there (what has it been now, nearly 2 years now?), which, as a fellow industry person, loyal customer, and part of what was keeping the lights on, thinks is a pretty poor excuse for manners.
I'm in a customer-service based industry; you don't get to be crummy towards your patrons unless they get crummy with you -- and even then sometimes you're expected to take it, with that whole "customer is always right" nonsense! ;-)
It's a bad vibe, and it's a bad look for her. I know she works long hours and has a lot on her shoulders, but that's no excuse for thinly veiled hostility or at best, diffidence to one of your early adopters and strongest supporters!
The service there is a real paradox! The actual people are perfectly pleasant and seemingly quite intelligent. How then does a new group sit in your station after strolling through the front door of your fairly small restaurant and not get menus, water, or service for up to 15 minutes?! It's ludicrous! And, it's costing them money......a small group I'd brought walked out.
I watched a customer in line at a Subway give up and walk out yesterday....after maybe 5 or 6 minutes. You have to wonder after 10 minutes or more who has left RVC in a huff as my group did? That is money down the drain. If they do stay, they might not come back.
And most tragic of all, even those of us who have tried to get used to it are despairing and MOVING ON.
The food is not THAT spectacular to have that poor of a customer service experience, sorry.
I will miss the grub, and even some of the people, but I will not miss being made to feel like somehow they were put upon to have to sell it and serve it to me.
We're taking our restaurant business elsewhere.