In what may be a preview of the Coffee Shop Business Model of the Future, a New York City establishment is charging patrons for sitting time. It’s an attempt to meld Coffee Shops with Internet Cafés, in the same way Internet Cafés have rationalized serving Coffee with their time.
I think we can all relate to this scenario: A student or freelancer purchases a small Coffee, sits as near the WiFi node as possible and settles in for hours of free WiFi. Well, the owner of the Glasshour Anti-Coffee Shop in New York has instituted a flat rate just for sitting there. The first hour or part thereof is (US)$6 and each additional minute over that hour is (US)0.10 up to four hours. That’s a total of (US)$24 and that’s where the Glasshour caps the sitting fee. BUT… You can eat and drink all you want while you’re there, and use the WiFi and play board games and computer games and confab with your friends and business associates to your heart’s content.
‘Why not?’ the Café’s proprietor says. That’s basically how Internet Cafés charge for their facilities. Your correspondent agrees. If you’re going to treat a WiFi-equipped Coffee Shop as an Internet Café, you might as well be charged like one. But there’s been some backlash and quite a lot of discussion about the move.
Ziferblat, a Russian Coffee Shop chain, has already pioneered the approach and has more than a dozen locations not only in Moscow and Eastern Europe but in London and Manchester.
One business writer who’s commented on this story notes that you can lease a co-working (shared office) space for less than it would cost to spend the traditional 20 working days each month in the Glasshour. The shared office space gets you free coffee but not the other amenities offered at the Glasshour. So some folks say the Coffee Shop route is their best option. Other folks point out that it’s still cheaper to go to Starbucks early in the day and stake a claim to a table and the WiFi for the price of a small Coffee. It’s just that Starbucks can get really busy and noisy – and even kind of smelly, from multiple steaming pots of strong Coffee – at certain times of the day, like the morning and afternoon coffee break periods. And lunchtime. Etc.
The moral to the story?
Just be sure you know what you’re getting into the next time you prepare to walk into a Café: Is it pay-for Coffee or Pay for time?
~ Maggie J.