We got b00ted

My good mate Pollas and I got kicked out of MJ Cafe, formerly Cafe Mojo, in Gothersgade, Copenhagen. I weren’t there when it happened, got back as it was almost over, but from what Pollas related, it wasn’t that we didn’t buy enough, it was out of principle. Or something. It’s not really clear to us.



Anyway, there goes our favorite place to work. We’re now at Kassen, which is horribly smoky, has uncomfortable chairs, no tables in working height, no food, and too loud music, on repeat. Other places are cold, have flaky or only for-pay wifi, and so on.



Ever since reading about Delicious Monster working out of the Zoka coffee shop in Seattle, has this seemed to be to be an ideal situation. You got someone taking care of the surroundings, the drinks, and the food, and you take care of your business. No wasting time finding an office, negotiating a lease, worries about needing more or less space, cleaning, flowers, and other decor, conference room, and so on. What’s not to like about that?



It’s a perfect way to bootstrap a business, yet it’s another infrastructure piece missing in Copenhagen. I thought we’d found it, the staff seemed friendly, there was lots of laptop users, but apparently we crossed some line this week. We weren’t event there for a whole week straight while I was off in Silicon Valley.



Speaking of which, in Palo Alto we spent quite a bit of time at Coupa Cafe. Sure, they yanked the wifi on evenings and weekends, but during workdays we got to work there just fine, and when on a Sunday we kindly asked, they event turned on the wifi just for us.



It’s a delicate balance to strike, because laptop people tend to stay for many hours and be so consumed in their own flow that they forget to buy drinks and don’t contribute much to the ambience of the place. But where there’s a will, there’s a way. Here we are, a group of tech workers representing the future of the fluid marketplace for labor, wallet in hand, but no-one to hand the money to.



We’ve obviously discussed opening up our own place, but we completely lack experince in running a place like that. If any of you have some insight, or friends with insight, we’d love to pick some brains.



For now, though, we’re nomads.

15 comments

Sounds bad. An understandable (if still maybe unreasonable) argument for kicking you out could be that people working on laptops give the wrong kind of ambience to a room. Lord knows I wouldn't want to go to some place to hang out, talk and drink coffee if all the other tables were occupied by hardworking laptop drones.
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Have you tried Cafe Retro in Knabrostræde?
By Guan Yang on Fri, Nov 24, 06 at 08:55 · Reply
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Have a read of this to see it from the owner's point of view: http://www.slate.com/id/2132576/
By Brian Fenton on Fri, Nov 24, 06 at 08:55 · Reply
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It sucks to get booted like this. Here (in Seattle) there seems to be a lot of places that invite you to come and stay, have business meetings and whatever. Maybe it's because the baristas get good tips? Bribing the staff is one way to avoid bootage. Oldschool but still effective.
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Maybe the cafe just wanted to be a cafe and not a shared officespace? > We’re now at Kassen, which is horribly smoky, has uncomfortable chairs, > no tables in working height, no food, and too loud music, on repeat. That does sounds like a cafe ;-) I'm with Claus thinking laptop'ers (often) sucks at cafes - so to some extend I'd give thumbs up for the cafe-owner, who doesn't compromise his intention of his place even if you do put a lot of money in his hat!
By Hartvig on Fri, Nov 24, 06 at 08:55 · Reply
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btw: From what I learned from a couple of friends who opened (and sold) a cafe a couple of years ago - the place needs quite a lot of visitors in all business hours. So while nice laptop'ers might leave a lot of cash in half of the opening hours, they might give a bad rumour to the place, causing the place to eventually be empty at nights. So even though I'd love a laptop'er cafe place, I don't leave it many chance to survive (without higher prices that is).
By Hartvig on Fri, Nov 24, 06 at 08:55 · Reply
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I'd recommend the laudromat café. Sometimes a little loud, but the music's fine, and it's perfectly okay to work there.. And it's nearby. Check out www.thelaudromatcafe.dk for more info. (am in no way afilliated with beforementioned location :D ) Good luck finding a new venue.
By Henriette on Fri, Nov 24, 06 at 08:55 · Reply
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Well, of course I meant the <em>laundromat</em> café... That's what happens when you're sleep-typing. And the url is also wrong - http://www.thelaundromatcafe.com/ will bring you home. Now I'll crash, more than mentally this time.
By Henriette on Fri, Nov 24, 06 at 08:55 · Reply
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I usually cruise at Kassen, Metrobar and Tobi's ( at islands brygge) in one day... actually I have set up coworking copenhagen for opening up spaces or to squat cafe's together and get some conversation going.. anyway - to bad about MJ - I can't believe that.. I used to go there all the time when I was pregnant ( and they were MOJO) because they have the best brownies in the world.. two thumbs down from here though.. are you going to react on it in any way ?
By Henriette Weber Andersen on Fri, Nov 24, 06 at 08:55 · Reply
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Thanks for all the comments, everyone. @Claus: Our own, obviously faulty, logic was that since the cafe wasn't actually full, except for about 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes around lunch-time, and we'd usually leave at 4 PM, we weren't taking any seats from other customers, so that the revenue we did bring in actually mattered, even though we're obviously buying less per hour that someone just in for a quick coffee. Also, we'd eat lunch there every day, at 90 kr/day, so not the cheapest in town. Alas, not enough, and I think your hunch about ambience is probably right on. @Guan: I have not. It definitely sounds interesting. Wifi and non-profit. What's better than that? @Brian: Loved the article, thanks! Seems like either getting lots of to-go customers or finding ways to make the food actually profitable (eg. charging DKK 59 for a ), as well as obviously making sure @Rasmus: D'oh, you're right, we should have tipped. Next time. @Hartvig: I don't dispute the owner's (or manager's) right to boot us. I'm just sad there isn't a good place for us to work. Also, diversity might not hurt. Or it might. @Henriette: We've tried Laundromat a few times, but the food is exceptionally poor (very heavy and not very flavorful), service is inattentive, and it gets really smoky. @Henriette W.A.: I haven't tried Tobi's, that's going on the list. Will we react? I'm not sure what we can do to react without coming off as whiners. I suppose we could try and convince them to change their minds, but it seems a lost cause at this point. What's funny is that we weren't the only ones working from there. There was a couple of guys from a large real estate development firm working there many hours per week, as well as at least one pair of girls who would come to do home work. We sat next to them two days in a row. We did stay there longer and more frequent than any of those, though. One distinguishing feature of the Wired article linked above is that they actually talked to the owners of the place and worked out a deal to make sure it was OK. In retrospect, we probably should've, possibly after tipping well for a day or two, but then again, chances are it's just not the type of place they're running. Which, as I said, is their choice. One thought I had was whether it would make a difference if the place could actually bill monthly in advance. That would make it easier to deduct in the company's books, because it wouldn't look like you were just hanging out at cafe's all the time, and it would ensure that they got at least a certain amount of money, and it would improve their cash flow. I don't know enough about the finances of a cafe to know whether that's an attractive deal for them.
By Lars Pind on Fri, Nov 24, 06 at 08:55 · Reply
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Maybe one should push cafe's to make a "laptop'er" area (like they have a smoking dep.). I'm sure they even could charge a daily fee for renting the place. I guess the problem with laptop'ers vs. cafe's is that the open wifi probably wasn't setup originally for having people working there for hours, but more to be able to check e-mail on-the-move. With some sort of "contract" between a cafe and laptop'ers one could might get expectations settled. As mentioned above - from the cafe-owners perspective I could understand if they feel "invated" by laptop'ers just being there because it's a cheap way of getting office space - I've even seen laptop'ers in cafes sitting with headphones - talk about not adding atmosphere :-)
By Hartvig on Fri, Nov 24, 06 at 08:55 · Reply
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I've heard that Cafe Retro has actually built a laptopers area upstairs, but I haven't had the chance to check it out yet.
By Guan Yang on Fri, Nov 24, 06 at 08:55 · Reply
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As a laptopper you would probably need to show a lot of conduit towards the owners of the café. They need to make money, and if you're not spending enough, you're just not as good a customer as the casual latte-sipping guest. However, guests in a café draw other guests. Most people are more likely to enter a café or restaurant, where there are other people around the table. That's why the first guests are placed by the window. So you might consider laptoppers an asset in that respect. I recommend you reach some sort of agreement/understanding with the owner/barista. Tip well or pay a fee of some sorts. If I was a laptopper my place of choice would be Jazzkælderen (The Jazz Basement) in Skindergade, Copenhagen. It's non-smoking, non-alcoholic, packed with atmosphere, nice sandwiches, excellent coffee and with a backdrop of high-end jazz music. The place is very small though, so ask the barista before opening the laptop, and ask for wi-fi as well - I'm not sure whether they have it.
By Dan August on Fri, Nov 24, 06 at 08:55 · Reply
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There's an almost unknown little gem of a wifi café right next to Nørreport: http://www.adecco.dk/joffeeshop/ It's a great place to meet and work.
By Alexander Kjerulf on Fri, Nov 24, 06 at 08:55 · Reply
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Damn. I read that Wired-article as well and really liked the idea. If I ever become an entrepeneur, the cafe workzone thing seemed so perfect. I really hope you find a place. Maybe you should look a little more in the edge of town, where cafes dont have as many customers? Alternatively, Katz is fairly big and in two levels. Maybe they wont mind laptoppers in the basement? http://www.mitkbh.dk/node.php?node=340
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