California coffee shops consider changing free internet policies

3:47 PM, Aug 13, 2010   |    comments
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SACRAMENTO, CA -- Coffee shops are not only a place to enjoy your favorite caffeinated beverage, they have a rich history as a community meeting place. For centuries, people would go to a cafe to socialize or read the newspaper, but with the internet came free Wi-Fi and laptops.

Ten years ago, cafes eager to attract big crowds and new customers began offering free wireless internet, but now some coffee shops are pulling the plug.

Coffee shops from San Francisco and Los Angeles to New York City say too many techies are hogging table space and costing them cash.

Kim Anderson, a manager at Ambrosia Cafe and Catering in Downtown Sacramento, says they do not offer free Wi-Fi for business reasons, but also to encourage more face-to-face interaction between customers.

"We decided against it, we adamantly did not want it, because we didn't want people taking up a table all day long. But, we didn't like that whole non-human interaction type thing," Anderson said.

Many cafes continue to offer free and unlimited Wi-Fi and encourage customers to use the internet. In return, cafes ask for a food or beverage purchase.

Rob McQuade signs online for free almost every day at Temple Fine Coffee and Tea in midtown Sacramento, sometimes for hours on end.

"It's not just about using the internet, it's about being out somewhere like this, surrounded by fun people, life and energy. I don't know what I'd do (without free Wi-Fi).  I guess I'd have to get internet at home. For the record I buy at least one drink an hour and I tip," McQuade said.

By Kate Larsen, klarsen@news10.net 

News10/KXTV

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