JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

How to lose customers you never had

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As we speak I’m sitting in Cafe Etc., a charming little coffee shop/eatery in West Hollywood.

The menu here is great. The coffee drinks are tasty. The windows are enormous, so the light shines through and makes everything glow.

And yet …

The above sign, posted in the window, rubs me wrongly. Like, really wrongly. You’re a friggin’ cafe. You want people to come in. And if you’re overly crowded, and people are spending eight hours off of one drink, you explain to them—kindly—that there’s no enough space. But to urge people not to enter your facility if they have work to do and might spend, oh, four hours with one coffee … it’s just terrible business. And rude. It strikes me as the work of a mean-spirited owner who feels superior to her customers; or who believes her place so spectacular that you should feel honored to be there.

Truth is, there are 8,000 cafes in the world. A solid 99 percent of them want you to come in, have a seat, chill.

The other 1% go out of business.

Inevitably.

PS: I’m here because I have work that needs to get done.