Some Cafe Owners Pull the Plug on Lingering Wi-Fi Users

Well that sucks. Speaking as someone who has has parents that own a Wi-Fi establishment, we would never do this. Even if they were slammed, I doubt that anything like what I am seeing this article would ever happen here in Bellingham, WA.

The staff at Victrola Café & Art is sick of talking about Wi-Fi. Given the opportunity, as at a recent cupping in the back of the store to smell and taste the latest in-house roasts, the group prefers to talk about cafe culture, or how to create a nuanced light roasted coffee.

But lately, the subject of Wi-Fi – specifically, the cafe’s move to cut back on the free Wi-Fi connection it provides for patrons’ Internet use – has been impossible to avoid. “It’s distracting,” said Jen Strongin, a co-owner.

Victrola started providing free wireless access two years ago after customers asked for it. As in hundreds of other cafes, the owners hoped it would encourage regulars and infrequent patrons to buy more food and drinks. But there was also a disadvantage, staff members said: the cafe filled with laptop users each weekend, often one to a table meant for four. Some would sit for six to eight hours purchasing a single drink, or nothing at all.

Even worse, when lingerers were confronted, they were bellicose. “We get yelled at by people who feel it’s their right” to use Victrola’s Wi-Fi without making a purchase, Ms. Strongin said. Tony Konecny, the shop’s head roaster, added, “It’s rarely a pleasant interaction.”

But Ms. Strongin and her staff said they were more concerned that the cafe, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, had turned into a place devoid of sound except the light clack of keys, not the focus of lively interaction that she and her husband, Chris Sharp, had intended. [Read the rest]

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