780 Valencia has had a rocky couple of years since The Summit opened and closed and 780 Cafe picked up the reins. It’s still a great cafe with a strong coworking community – but starting today if your order consists of a single coffee it’s going to come in a paper cup. That’s because 780 has instituted a new $5 minimum to sit – and if your order doesn’t hit it they’ll send you out the door.
Cafes in the Mission are in a tough spot – making rent off cups of coffee isn’t easy, and when hordes of laptop workers set up shop for hours they can deprive other customers of seats. Business owners have responded in a variety of ways – some have removed or limited their power outlets, others reserve tables for lunch, others grant WiFi bandwidth for every purchase, and others have cut the internet completely from the equation. There’s ups and downs to every approach, and the policy a cafe takes will determine its clientele.
As someone who occasionally works in cafes, I’m a big fan of the WiFi per purchase model – it encourages patrons to support the business by setting up a clear transaction with added value: in exchange for money I receive a good and a service. Establishing a minimum purchase point to sit down has the opposite effect – instead of an incentive it’s a barrier to entry. What’s your take?