WorkEatPlay: The Pay-to-Stay Café

Anne Kadet: “There’s long been an uneasy relationship between the city’s cafes and the freelancers who use them as office space. Some joints banned laptops or unplugged the Wi-Fi. But a few are trying a new tactic—charging for table time. Peter Litvinenko, CEO of WorkEatPlay, which currently offers pay-to-stay service at one Hamptons and five New York City venues, describes his business as an Airbnb for restaurants looking to rent their tables as workspace during slow periods, typically on weekdays before the dinner hour.”

“Patrons using the WorkEatPlay website can select an establishment and reserve a day; hours vary depending on the venue. One can pay by the day or buy a package of hours. WorkEatPlay keeps the fee and the restaurant—at least in theory—gets new business. The ideal venue offers a convenient location, a pleasant dining room and decent wireless, Mr. Litvinenko says. Restaurants serving fish are out: ‘We don’t want the aroma to be part of the experience’.”

At Pourt, “which opened this spring on Manhattan’s Cooper Square … there’s a traditional cafe upfront, while the spacious backroom offers a cafe/office hybrid. The workstations feature charging outlets and swiveling ergonomic armchairs, and the décor includes paintings by neighborhood artists … The $10-an-hour rate is steep compared with the $40 that standard co-working spaces typically charge for a day pass. The co-working outfit WeWork, meanwhile, only offers monthly passes. Rates in New York City, which vary by location, start at $300 for a ‘hot desk’ and $650 for a private office. Pourt founder Mike Kruszewski recently tweaked his proposition so guests can apply the entire fee toward food and drinks at the cafe.”


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