Another important question is how do the cafes stay in business when all anyone ever buys is a cup…
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I’m an author and go to our local Starbucks to write because I’m too easily distracted by other fun things to do at home. (I also will go to the public library and “checkout” one of the study rooms occasionally but I do love the energy of the people around me at the coffee sh0ps.) I buy a coffee drink and some kind of snack when I arrive, then an hour or so later, if I intend to stay I’ll get at least another drink, sometimes one of those breakfast sandwiches. I’m conscious of the “cost” of having me sitting there. Also if the seats/tables are all full, I’ll leave so that someone else can have a spot.

But paying rent on a chair? That’s bizarre. If you really can’t handle people hanging around past some deadline, just make the space less attractive to that dynamic — less comfortable chairs, signs suggesting if there aren’t seats and you’ve been there for a while it would be nice to make room for others.

I feel like my approach is fair, responsible and equitable, so if someone asked me to pay rent on a chair, I’d just leave and never come back. It wouldn’t be a protest or move based on personal beliefs or some perception of a slight — I just wouldn’t ever trust that I was evaluating the situation correctly or know when I had out stayed my welcome. It’s easier to just avoid that entire situation — like left turns across traffic.

Thankfully I’ve never encountered something like that, and at the various coffeeshops I frequent I have a good relationship with the baristas and have made it obvious and clear that I intend to “play nice” with their space.

Many coffeeshops like to create this sense of a place where the community gathers. To then build in ways to make people leave after a time period directly opposes that, and will drive people away.

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