DISCLAIMER: I own a coffee shop, but way before that, I used to hang out in Starbucks. Much of this is about what I've observed from good, well-intentioned people. This isn't written to hand-slap, just to help.
We're very much in the age of public meetings: business meeting, non-profit meetings, personal meetings--we're Americans and we meet ;-)
We meet in coffee shops and places like Panera more than ever before. And honestly, I love to meet in these kinds of places. It's good to get out, have food and drink options and run into people you know. But...
There are times when we're not doing this as well as we could. So as a patron and as a bistro owner, here are some well-intentioned tips:
Everyone who's in a seat in a business should have something purchased at that business. This is a pure and simple respect move. The owner (corporate or mom & pop) put that seat there specifically with the intent of generating revenue so that (most people miss this) that seat can continue to be there.
- Buy Something
Oh, and don't bring a drink into Panera from Starbucks because you like their frappucino better; it's disrespectful. And it's not like you need to buy a bunch of stuff you don't want. There have been times when I simply ordered a drink I wasn't really in the mood for. Why? Think of it as the most inexpensive rent you'll ever pay for a nice meeting space.
I get it. Sometimes we have to speak up when that call comes in. But, here's your script:
- It's a Cell Phone Not a Yell Phone
"Maude, please hold on just a second while I step outside."
When we speak up to take our business call, we turn the whole restaurant into our office and that's not cool. I've lost my religion so many times when I was startled in Starbucks by,
"OK, GREAT FRANK. THAT BURGHDORF DEAL IS KEY FOR US. GIVE ME THE LATEST RUNDOWN!"
I wanted to run his phone down his throat ;-) Again, this is a pure and simple respect move -- respecting others in a shared space.
Every eatery has peak business times, typically lunch and dinner. These are the times when the proprietor counts on filling and turning tables. This is usually when they generate 80% (or more) of their sales for the day. When you start to notice seats filling up, it's time to move on. Or...order lunch like a normal person and take a break.
- Know When to Say Goodbye
As a coffee shop owner we welcome and love to have people hanging out individually or having meetings in our off-peak times, seriously--we love people hanging out--just not when it's lunch time when every seat counts. Have I mentioned this is all pure and simple a respect move?
We Love to Have People Hang Out ;-)
Again, places like our Main Street Cafe love, love, love having people hang out and meet in our place--it's part of our design and we love people! And the places I've mentioned in this post probably feel the same. On behalf of bistros everywhere, we just ask and remind you to be like Aretha: R-e-s-p-e-c-t ;-)