Dear East Finchley customers,
In the last few months our cafe team members have been dealing with more than a few complaints regarding the laptop policy in our café on almost a daily basis. We have also received a few emails calling us "discriminating" and "cruel" for having to sit next to other customers talking and not having seating with back support for customers with back pain trying to work from our café. Lastly let’s not forget the good old google review, where you can give a 1 star review to a coffee shop entirely based on the usage of laptops, not mentioning the coffee, cafe or anything else in the slightest.
If you want to run a successful coffee shop these days you are expected to provide an excellent customer service, friendly atmosphere, great food and drinks and of course a free wi-fi for these who work from home and seek a break from the home distractions.
It seems to be a common belief that a coffee shop full of people attracts more business. Unfortunately a coffee shop full of customers on laptops doesn’t often create a welcoming atmosphere for the customers who come with the intention of drinking coffee and not using their local café as co-working space, making zoom calls and spreading their belongings over three seats so that no one else can sit next to them. Therefore we have made a decision to ban laptops completely from our café in East Finchley as of 1st December 2023.
We have been on Fortis Green for 11 years now and in the past we had 30 seats, no restrictions on laptop use and also a lot of upset customers who actually wanted to come, enjoy their coffee while seated with friends, enjoy the conversation and had nowhere to sit.
We made a decision to split the seating into laptop and no-laptop areas, hoping to satisfy majority of customers. Unfortunately that hasn't worked. Our laptop and non-laptop policy created lot of confusion and also room for arguments. We understand the policy was very frustrating for some of the customers, especially for the ones who enjoy working from cafes on a daily basis and couldn’t get a “laptop seat” when there were other “non-laptop seats” available but we can no longer support abusive behaviour towards our team from customers who simply can't get their way.
We are incredibly lucky with having a wonderful bunch of people working with us. Employee turnover rates in hospitality industry is very high. Most of you have probably met our team members because they have been with us for a very long time. Needless to say it is our obligation to take care of them even if it means we end up with some upset customers.
We sincerely apologise though to all our customers who come every day, respecting our rules, treating our team members well and enjoying our coffee for this inconvenience. We hope that even though you will not be able to use laptop anymore, you will still come to say hi sometimes.
Lastly we looked at numbers and a laptop user usually use free internet for 3-4 hours and spend £4 on average whether the non-laptop user sits at the café for 1 hour on average and spend £7.5 on average. Taking in consideration the current situation (rent increase, living wage increase, ingredients increase etc.) it goes without saying that we actually need to turn some tables otherwise there would be no business left. Let's highlight that it's vital for any cafe to be busy in order to survive.
Finally we would like to thank all the customers who support us and our decisions, we are incredibly grateful and we wouldn’t be here without you. ❤️