When you use a coffee house as an office, do you expect them to pay your bills?
It sounds silly. But when people park their tushes at a business for hours and order nothing more than a cup of coffee, that's pretty much what they are doing.
These coffee houses are businesses. The owners are in business to make money. They pay rent, employee salaries, utilities, taxes and, of course, for that comfy seat people sit in all day.
A cup of coffee sold every four to five hours will not pay the bills. The longer you stay, the more you should pay.
Why? Because those who use coffee houses as an office, let's call them "espressopreneurs," must understand that the free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and super cool jazz enhance our work environment. But that environment exists for the owners to make money, not to supplement our incomes.
If people continue to abuse the generousity of these businesses, we all suffer.
Recently, I went to Busboys and Poets and was banished to the high stools and communal table. Why? Because I was using a laptop. I had come for lunch.
The longer I stay, the more I expect to pay. I usually start with coffee, order a meal and finish with a mocha or latte. I tip well and I'm super polite to the staff who wait on me while I use their workplace as my workplace.
I hate sitting on the tall stools at communal tables. At first I was so upset about being banished to the "laptop area" that I thought about leaving. I figured on average I spend more money than a couple of ladies who work while picking at house salads.
But then it hit me. This is about the waiters, relying on tips, waiting on inconsiderate people who occupy seats for three to four hours. Meanwhile, groups of potential customers are turned away and head to the next restaurant to spend money.
On the flip side, once I went to Caribou Coffee to get a quick bite to eat — you know, actual lunch. I could not find a seat in the coffee house because people on laptops — people who were not eating — had taken them all.
Perhaps coffee houses need to adopt a cover charge, like nightclubs. I mean, they provide more freebies than clubs. The music is better, the bathrooms are usually cleaner and rarely does someone spill booze on your new shirt.
Even a virtual office costs $200 a month for 16 hours of office time. This makes a $10 table minimum for two hours a steal.
I've owned a brick-and-mortar business and I understand what people pay for rent, utilities and salaries. I feel compelled to pay for my stay in a coffee house.
I don't understand people who think it's OK to hang out all day in a business without paying a thing. These are the same folks who lament when these businesses fail.
"Ah, I really liked that place," they'll say.
Really? Then why didn't you support them?