The coffee shop
Remarkably, this is not only still an option but one that's become a lot more attractive since Starbucks (SBUX) went with unlimited free Wi-Fi in 2010. Yes, some places still enforce time limits during peak hours, plate over their outlets or shut off the Wi-Fi when users get too ornery or numerous, but the coffeehouse is still Laptopistan for just about every computer-confined working class.
Independent shops and chains alike tend to struggle with running a business and a de facto library at the same time and still try to strike a balance in their registers as well. Coffee and pastry add up and can put the daily rent between $6 and $12. While that's not so great for an owner if tables are a key part of the service and customers are getting shushed for daring to act as if they're in a cafe and not a cubicle, owners who can cultivate a thriving coffeehouse workplace and inspire strong takeout service at the same time can yield some measure of success.
The chains are already wise to this, which is why urban and suburban Panera Bread (PNRA) shops are replete with folks clattering away at free Wi-Fi from its cushy seats. Dunkin Donuts (DNKN) and Krispy Kreme (KKD) are angling for a piece of the coffeehouse action with free Wi-Fi as well. Five years ago, Wi-Fi in coffee shops was compared to air-conditioning in 1920s movie palaces. As the economy changed during the recession, it could be argued that a constant connection and a place to work became a far more precious commodity than cold air.
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