In 2006-7, a friend and I were regulars at Think Coffee (see here). Looking to vary our cafe experience, one evening I suggested that we try Cafe Dante. He readily agreed. We knew that unlike Think Coffee, Dante was not self service, the atmosphere would not be quite as casual and that certainly there would be some time limit on how long one could park without continuing to buy food or drinks.
We were not, however, prepared for the sign in the window: NO LAPTOPS. This was not a problem for us, since we did not have laptops, but nonetheless, it certainly did emit a rather negative vibe for a Village cafe.
Thoughts and conversation turned to the new realities of laptops in cafes and restaurants and how their use can lead to hours spent at a table, with the financial impact and new policy considerations for owners and management. Some cafes now impose limits or ban use of laptops during certain hours. Think Coffee, on the other hand, was extraordinarily liberal and I pondered what their official policy was regarding time versus money spent to occupy a table or seat.
On my next visit to Think Coffee, I told the counter person of our Dante experience. I asked if there was any policy at all regarding purchases necessary to spend time in the cafe. For example, since Think offers free water, could I pour myself a cup and spend the day without making any purchase? Her response surprised us and became an inside joke and an oft repeated catchphrase: "Let's just say the management has a policy of No Negativity." Wow. So essentially the policy is anything goes.
Last night in a Village restaurant, I witnessed what to me was a rather egregious act. Two women were sitting at a table. One pulled out a laptop. The other moved her chair into the aisle to share the screen. She then folded her knees, bringing them up towards her chin and put both of her feet on the seat of the chair. I am not talking about crossing legs - she had the soles of both shoes squarely planted on the surface of the chair seat which was covered in fabric. This seemed so inappropriate, I countered by pulling out my camera and taking a photo. However, she moved her legs, so I did not catch the offending act specifically.
But it is no matter. We are in a different world now. Business is very competitive and must extend very liberal policies to keep customers. There is no need to buy anything in a cafe and perhaps you can even put your feet up on the table in a restaurant. We have one new policy now - No Negativity :)
Note: Since this photo was taken in a restaurant, I have processed it to protect the privacy of the individuals.