Here's a new strategy in the ongoing war between coffeeshops and laptop squatters, courtesy San Francisco's Coffee Bar: reserved "express tables" for non-computer users. The Chronicle reports that Luigi Di Ruocco's six-year-old Mission District coffeeshop decided to reserve a third of the shop's seats for laptop-free guests during the lunch rush: "About 20 of the cafe's 65 seats are at express tables with 30-minute time limits and reserved for non-computer users." The computer-free tables, Di Ruocco says, guarantee that those coming in for a casual, non-working-lunch can find seating quickly. As a result, "sales have increased by 15 to 20 percent." (Coffee Bar's Facebook page, however, stresses that "we love ALL our customers," and that the shops offer a "premium network for maximum Internet usage.")
The Chronicle picks up tips from other coffeehouse owners, who report changing their Wi-Fi passwords daily or, in a dramatic effort, disconnecting their Wi-Fi entirely. The war against laptop hobos is a fraught one for small coffeeshop owners, many of whom fear losing business to mega-giant Starbucks, which recently announced plans partner with Google and upgrade its in-store Wi-Fi.