Calif. Cafes Unplugging WiFi

Coffee shops shouldn't feel like cubicle farms, say owners
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 10, 2010 5:00 AM CDT
We don't glare at someone with a laptop," the owner of one coffee house says. "But we don't cater to that person either."   (AP Photo/L.G. Patterson, File)

(Newser) – California's coffee shops were pioneers in providing free WiFi, but a growing number are starting to pull the plug. Some complain that laptop users taking up space and nursing a single drink all day are killing profits, while others want to keep a friendly vibe in their establishments by having customers spend their time talking, not typing. Owners say they've received plenty of compliments from customers happy to have a space where they won't get distracted by the Internet.

"We just realized it was a mistake," the owner of one San Francisco coffee shop tells the Los Angeles Times. "People would just camp out for hours, literally eight hours on one cup of coffee. We only had 75 seats, and those were always full," he says. "It killed the vibe, too." He says his business is thriving now that he's cut off the free WiFi and covered up all the electrical outlets—except a fake one spray-painted onto the wall. "There are lots of marks on the drywall" from unsuspecting laptop users, he says.

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