I found it strange that they don't offer WiFi so in a recent email exchange with the owner I asked why they don't offer WiFi of any kind. His answer really surprised me as it would never occur to me that such a situation could exist. He admitted that providing free WiFi for customers is now very cheap and something that he'd like to do but he can't. See, his shop is in a very small local strip center with limited parking and his landlord prohibits the offering of WiFi of any kind as it encourages patrons to stay longer than usual and tie up parking spaces. It's actually in his lease that he can't offer WiFi as it is important to have rapid turnover for the parking spaces for the center. This totally surprised me and made me realize that it's tough to be a small businessman in such a competitive field so next time you visit such a shop don't jump on the owner, they may not have a choice to forego the WiFi.
Now, we don't have free wi-fi in New Zealand cafes (we actually have free wi-fi at Esquires Coffee Houses courtesy of Tomizone), but in the main business areas it's common to find commercial wi-fi hotspots. However I never thought landlords had so much control on what people can offer in terms of technology.
I agree though with one of the comments on JK's blog about people staying too long when free wi-fi is available. It makes it harder for other patrons to actually enjoy a coffee because someone is hogging a table to download music while paying for a glass of soda...
What do you think? IS free wi-fi something you would like to see in cafes?
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