The owner manager of a popular Dublin City based cafe recently shared a problem with me. He and his wife had built a really successful cafe up from scratch. From a market stall during the recession to two cafes in Dublin's busy City Centre. Their coffee is always first rate, their staff pleasant and efficient and their space warm and welcoming.
They recently faced a huge dilemma though. The phenomenon of the "third space" had started to haunt them. This concept followed the big multiple cafes to Ireland in recent years. It describes the scenario whereby people hand out (and even work) in cafes as an alternative to staying at home or going to an office.
This can be a very nice way of living for a lot of people, especially those living away from their home country, chilling out in a cafe while figuring out the lie of the land, booking the next leg of our journey or looking for a job or office space while mooching off the establishment's wifi. We've all done it!
From a patron's perspective, if you pop into a cafe for a coffee and three hours later you're still there, laptop out with all your books spread around the place, then you're really taking the proverbial, especially if in all that time you've only ordered a single coffee! However, if you've ordered a few things, there's no one else around and you're quietly reading in the corner then the cafe owner shouldn't really mind you adding a bit of life to the place.
Living the third space life doesn't usually cause a problem for the big chains but it can cause a serious issue for small cafe owners who usually require a fairly constant turnover of tables in order to make enough money to survive!
Personally I think that there's a balance to be struck here. Cafe owners need to be cool when they see that regular customers have enough sense to not overstay their welcome while patrons need to have enough sense not to take advantage of a business that may well be struggling to survive!
What do you guys think? Does a €3 coffee entitle the purchaser to take up a seat in a cafe for a few hours or even the whole day? Let me know in the comments or message me directly here!