Turning Off Wi-FI at the Local Coffee Shop

Step inside any Starbucks in Boston and you’ll be witness to many locals ‘working’ away on their laptops, sometimes making it hard to get a seat. Free Wi-Fi was once considered to be an integral part of coffee shops, as important as tables or napkins. Now step into Francesca’s Cafe, or The Buttery Cafe in Boston’s South End and you will notice the absence of the freelance workers. These shops do not offer Wi-Fi and have no plans to do so.

The struggle grows between offering Wi-Fi to those who wish to grab a cup of joe and do some work, and those who want to just sit and relax. Nevin Martell of Washington City Paper has talked with shop owners and patrons to find out what happens when coffee shops turn off the Wi-Fi.

Check out his article here.

Let us know what you think! Should every coffee shop offer free Wi-Fi? Has the clicker clatter of laptops at Starbucks become an annoyance? Do you rely on these areas to get some work done outside the office?


1 thought on “Turning Off Wi-FI at the Local Coffee Shop”

  1. Thanks for this! As a writer (coincidentally clocking in a few hours at Refuge Cafe in Allston), independent coffee shops that offer free wi-fi are like my second home. From my perspective, those that shut off the wi-fi altogether are doing themselves a disservice. While they do a lot of business in the morning, they’re often completely deserted by mid-afternoon. Meanwhile, the cafe I’m sitting in boasts 19 full tables at 4pm. (Which must be comparatively good for business, especially since most Bostonian cafes close too early to get any revenue from the evening crowd.)

    The 2 hour free pass with purchase is becoming increasingly popular in smaller shops that don’t have the space or long business hours to designate specific laptop zones or times. I’m OK with this; paying for a coffee is reasonable (paying an additional $6 for internet access is not!). However, hybrid models like those adopted by Tryst and Qualia seem like a great way to offer a work space for freelancers while maintaining a more traditional cafe ambiance.

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