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Old Town Cafe, Part II

February 3, 2008

I didn’t think I’d be returning to the Old Town Cafe after my last experience, but a group I hang out with wanted to meet there this morning.

spill.gifThere were about 10 of us sitting at a large table in the corner. As we split into two groups to discuss some things, the owner came over and asked me to take a smaller table in the corner. I tried to explain to her that I needed the larger table because there were four of us. She proceeded to complain to me how people were always coming in and taking up table space with their laptops (I had mine with me today). She also complained that our large group had not made reservations either.

The conversation was taking on the air of a spectacle and we were clearly making a scene, so I pulled up a chair and sat at the table in which they’d been sitting. Our conversation over the next 10 minutes was quite interesting. It was quite clear to me that they really had no interest in attracting customers by providing Internet connectivity, rather it was a service for existing customers. They wanted people to quickly access the Internet while they ate a quick meal and then to move on.

When I explained that I usually bring 10-15 new customers to a place of business where I frequent, it didn’t seem to make any difference. I was amazed that they would rather me take my business somewhere else. I don’t understand it, and I’d like to support local businesses, but I will find another place to frequent. No problem for me.

In fact, our group of 10 will be meeting in another location next week.

Old Town Cafe & Espresso
52490 Southeast 2nd Street
Scappoose, OR 97056
(503) 543-5339

  1. Lisa Raminiak permalink
    February 5, 2008 12:09 am

    Hello! My husband and I own the Old Town Cafe.

    Several months ago, we decided to offer free wi-fi connection to our customers. We felt it would enhance our customers’ experience at the cafe. What we did not realize, however, is that free wi-fi attracts what we can only describe as internet freeloaders. People come in, connect up, and feel put upon if we ask them to make a puchase. We have people sitting in the parking lot in their cars using our wi-fi, assumably because they want to avoid being asked to make a purchase. We have single wi-fi users who routinely set up shop at large tables meant to seat four or five people–which we try to preserve for large parties. While this is not a problem during off hours, it IS a problem during rush periods. Unfortunately, Wi-fi free-loaders do not seem to understand the difference between rush periods and off hours. In fact, they don’t seem to understand, or care, that there ARE people besides themselves who would like to patronize the restaurant.

    Recently, we have enacted some house policies designed to guide wi-fi users toward being a little more courteous toward others when making use of our facilities. On two occasions in the past week, I have asked single wi-fi users to please set up their computers on smaller tables, rather than using our larger tables meant for parties of four or more. In both cases, these folks arrived just before a typical rush period…otherwise I probably would not have approached them at all. The reactions I received were mystifiying. One gentleman packed up and left in a huff, then called us on the phone and went on for several minutes about how he refused to buy one of our extremely overpriced burgers just so he could use our wi-fi (I hadn’t asked him to purchase anything…I simply asked him to sit at a smaller table.) Perhaps he will go to McDonald’s next time, get one of their more reasonably priced hamburgers, and sit in their dining room for several hours using their wi-fi connection.

    And as for the second person I approached last week about using a smaller table, it is the self-same author of this post. This gentleman immediately launched into a story about how he felt he had been treated poorly at our cafe previously, and so had posted a very negative review about us on his blog. And then he went on to insist, several times during the course of the ensuing conversation, that he is an asset to our business that we really need to appreciate…?

    Old Town Cafe has a growing following of local patrons whom we appreciate immensely. We go out of our way daily to cater to our faithful. Our regular customers routinely stop us all over town and tell us how much they enjoy the cafe, how polite and professional our staff is, and how they have never had a bad meal at the restaurant. The most pervasive negative feedback we have experienced recently has been from disgruntled wi-fi users who seem to resent the fact that they are not particularly welcome to camp out for hours in our dining room, or are peeved that they are actually expected to purchase a meal or a drink when they come in to connect to our service.

    We will do everything we can to continue offering wi-fi service to our loyal customers. But we also feel that we must make it clear that Old Town Cafe is a restaurant–not a community room, nor an alternative office space for itinerant business people. If you need an office in town, there is an almost completely empty building right across the street from the cafe. And if your group is in need of a free large space to conduct meetings, the library is just down the block. In fact, Old Town Cafe is happy to cater to meetings, and we do so quiet often. But we do ask that folks do us the courtesy of calling ahead of time so that we can be sure we can accomodate their group. For the most part, we have found members of the community more than willing to comply with that request.

    And if you do not understand the value in extending courtesy in order to receive courtesy in return, perhaps you are in the wrong line of work.


  2. Dave permalink
    February 19, 2008 3:54 pm

    Have you tried The Coffee Bar in Scappoose? They have the fastest WiFi available in Columbia County, plus their staff is super friendly. You can often find people on their laptops there. Oh, and the chairs are super comfy. I go there all the time. They are right by the new theater complex going in up by the McDonalds.



  1. The Old Town Cafe « Continuing on the Journey
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