photo/Jessica Van Gilder
With the constant clicking often heard in coffee shops,
the saying “Coffee shops are your second living room” seems more like it should be “Coffee shops are your second office.” But as more patrons pull out their laptops, some coffee shops are trying to reclaim their space as a place for gathering, not just a place for work.
At Victrola Coffee and Art, 411 15th Ave. E., wood tables and chairs take up most of the space, making it prime property for laptop users. But beyond the screens, Victrola isn’t all about work.
“Community gathering is really central to what we want to do. We just have to be more proactive about seeking that out now,” said Tonya Wagner, area manager of the Victrola coffee shops. “Ten years ago, a coffee shop was just a place to hang out; now, it’s a place to work and hang out.”
On the weekends, Victrola turns the Wi-Fi off to encourage patrons to simply meet up and hang out at the coffee shop, instead of work. Victrola also actively promotes the arts with artist receptions and music shows. The coffee shop wraps up its fall lineup with Billet Deux on Nov. 19, from 8 to 10 p. m.
While these events are important to retaining the nature of a coffee shop, Wagner said coffee shops can work as second offices, which benefits business and community.
Rather than being one or the other, the ideal coffee shop manages to be a mixed space — a place to relax and work, a place for individuals and groups, as well as a place that promotes community relationships, according to Wagner.
“[A coffee shop] should and could be both things: an office and a community gathering space,” she added.
But for some coffee lovers, going to a coffee shop to do something other than work is a rare occurrence. Almost every patron at Caffé Vita, 1005 East Pike St,. sits at a picnic-like table with three other strangers, all on their laptops and so immersed in their work they wouldn’t even notice if the seat beside them was empty.
And that’s perfectly OK to Stepanie Lyons, who goes to Vita frequently throughout the week.
“It’s not that I only want to work here,” Lyons said. “But that’s what I have to do. It’s nice to know I can come here, go upstairs and it will be quiet because everyone else is doing the same thing as me — working.”
At Victrola, Jessica Au and Waleska Leiva agree the coffee-shop essentials come down to three things: free Internet, food and coffee.
But while the coffee shop has become a primary workspace for some, other coffee-shop goers want to see more cozy qualities in their local coffee shops.
“The reason I’m attracted to coffee shops is because I see them as my second living room,” said Greg Skidmore, who was sinking into a forest-green couch in the
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