Saturday, February 8, 2014

Pay-by-the-minute Cafes

Last weekend, the spring semester team got together for our second ever orientation session. The majority of the meeting was spent discussing a great NY Times article addressing the issue of people going fast food restaurants, namely McDonald's, and staying there for hours at a time with a newspaper or others for company. Many franchises are now imposing limits on the amount of time any one customer can stay- one location set a 20 minute limit! In our Food Group discussions we covered issues of the right to space and the right to refuse service, the socioeconomic situation of those staying at the fast food chains as well as those working there.

What if the time you spend at a cafe did not matter because you pay by the minute?

A self-described "social experiment", Ziferblat is a chain of cafes in Russia that charge a rate per minute to be in the cafe where "everything is free".

The cafes are intended to be collaborative spaces for free expression. Services include access to a full kitchen, complimentary snacks and drinks and even a piano. Additionally, there is no minimum time limit so visitors can wander about, timer in pocket, as long as they are willing to pay.
In the past two years Ziferblat has opened 10 locations in Russia but is now expanding and has opened their first international franchise in London where the going rate is 3 pence per minute (cool interior photos can be found on their site).

How does this model work out in Western settings? Why has this not been explored before? What does this mean for the monetization of space? Is there equal access for all?

Please post any thoughts or responses below!

No comments:

Post a Comment