Uptown Coffee Shop Makes Laptop Users Sit in the Back
INWOOD — Be warned, keyboard jockeys — your days of hogging seats at one Inwood coffee shop are over.
Darling Coffee has introduced new computer-free seating zones to free up seats and tables and encourage conversation.
The computer-free zones, marked by small "no computers" placards, went into effect on Monday. Darling owner Nick Lidakis said the change became necessary after patrons complained about laptop users clogging up the seating areas.
"It just got to the point where the whole shop would be like a library," said Lidakis, who opened Darling at 4961 Broadway with his wife Nichole in 2012. "So we made a decision to enforce some very simple rules about where people can use their laptops and where they can't."
Under the new rules, computers can only be used at the shop's communal table and at a new computer counter the cafe installed prior to the rule change.
The ban extends beyond just laptops, too: Lidakis said all internet devices, including iPads and other tablets, are being discouraged at smaller tables.
"One gentlemen tried to argue with me that a tablet isn't a laptop," Lidakis said. "I said: 'The sign doesn't say no laptops; it says no computers.'
"Not that I'm going to throw anyone out with a graphing calculator," added Lidakis, who noted that e-ink kindles are okay for use.
Darling is the second uptown coffee shop to limit computer usage. Washington Heights' Taszo Espresso Bar, which opened in May at 5 Edward M. Morgan Pl., has restricted seat hogs to a single communal table in the back of the store from the very beginning.
Taszo owner Haitem Weslati explained the restriction at the time, telling DNAinfo New York he wanted his shop to be a space full of energy and conversation.
Darling's new rules, meanwhile, have had mixed results. Lidakis said while the majority of customers have been understanding of the restriction, some have given him grief.
"I've had to speak to a few people," Lidakis said. "Most of them have been okay. I've gotten a few snippy remarks."
The restrictions have sparked a debate, ironically, online. On the popular Inwood Community Group Facebook page, users argued about the justifications of the new rules.
Customers all seemed to approve of the restrictions Wednesday.
"I spent a lot of time working here, but I totally understand it," said Sasha Schwartz, who owns the Scribble Art Workshop.
Another customer, Manny Nunez, said he surfs in cafes, but is trying to be patient.
"I get what they're trying to do," he said while trolling the web on his computer. "You get people who just sit here for hours. I've been guilty of it, too."