Do they mind me staying here all day (and tomorrow, and Friday...)?
July 29, 2009 2:45 PM   Subscribe

YANMB (You Are Not My Barista): Do the folks at the coffee shop where I've been working all day mind me taking up space if I'm buying stuff all day and it's not crowded?

It's hotter than SHIT in Seattle today and the A/C in my office building doesn't work when temps go over 80.

I've been sitting in the new Starbucks-"inspired" coffee shop in my 'hood (they have beer!!) since 8:30 this morning, consistently buying stuff (including lunch) so I can take advantage of the A/C.

I've never worked in a cafe before, so don't know - is this "legal"? Do they care how long one stays as long as it's not crowded and you're spending $$?

I live in dread fear of inconveniencing people, this is a stupid question, I am sure. However, I need somewhere to work for the rest of the week, and this place is just lovely, I'd like to move in for a few days and spend more money.
posted by tristeza to Grab Bag (35 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
more important question - are you tipping them?

i'm sure they are used to squatters
posted by Think_Long at 2:47 PM on July 29, 2009

My daughter is a barista. She wouldn't mind. I suppose it would depend on the place, altho frankly if you are buying stuff I think you would be welcome no matter what.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:48 PM on July 29, 2009

Why not ask them?
posted by Carol Anne at 2:48 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I don't see any problem with it. Tip well and I really doubt they'll care.
posted by NoraReed at 2:48 PM on July 29, 2009

As long as you're putting sufficient money into the place, I don't suppose they care where it comes from.
posted by Solomon at 2:50 PM on July 29, 2009

Do they care how long one stays as long as it's not crowded and you're spending $$

no, they don't - or, they shouldn't - especially if it's not crowded & most especially if you are not only buying things but tipping them as well - most barista jobs pay shit

p.s. curious as to why you call this "Starbucks inspired"? there were cafes in Seattle (& elsewhere) who were doing all this before the mutant mermaid showed up

p.p.s. sorry y'all are having a heat wave - what a weird thing for the northwest
posted by jammy at 2:52 PM on July 29, 2009

You sound like THE BEST customer ever! Seriously - buying stuff ALL DAY LONG?! You're what dreams are made of!

If you're questioned, tell the truth and also tell them that you'd rather spend your money at their establishment than going here there and everywhere. It sounds like a win-win situation to me. They get ALL your business and you get to stay put.
posted by Sassyfras at 2:53 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Yes, I'm tipping, and they've all been really nice so I ASSUME they don't hate me, but I don't really know the etiquette.

jammy - it's actually a Starbux but has a different name and stuff, it's kind of weird. The link can explain it better than I! :)

(I just went outside for a sec and I thought I would faint - it's 100 degrees per the weather report!!)
posted by tristeza at 2:56 PM on July 29, 2009

Honestly, not a big deal. Certainly not if you're buying things all day long, but even if you aren't, but are being pleasant and considerate, and not taking up too much space.
posted by vernondalhart at 2:57 PM on July 29, 2009

When I was a barista, the customers I found annoying were the people who were rude to me or the bored teens who would open and scatter sweet&low packets all over the tables. Customers who just sat and worked--especially when those customers bought refills--were awesome.
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:00 PM on July 29, 2009

Actually, THIS link explains it
posted by tristeza at 3:04 PM on July 29, 2009

You know, of course, that's not 'Starbucks Inspired', that's Starbucks. See here:

Just rebranded with fake protesters.

(not that I'm suggesting you leave. In this heat I'd sit with Darth Vader if it was air conditioned.)
posted by lumpenprole at 3:05 PM on July 29, 2009

hey tristeza - don't want to derail this but it is kinda weird - i went & checked the link & i didn't see any mention of Starbuckles - are you saying they own the place, but have a different storefront? or does they supply the coffee? is the mutant mermaid logo displayed there?

by the way, you won't have to assume anything if a barista hates you - you'll know, trust me
posted by jammy at 3:06 PM on July 29, 2009

ah... preview fail.

thanks for the links, both of you - that's some messed up shit
posted by jammy at 3:14 PM on July 29, 2009

I used to work in a small diner attached to a livestock auction arena. We had occasional "squatters" who would basically sit around all day, only popping out when a particular animal went up that they wanted to bid on.

We never minded them being there. Sometimes they'd visit with us, but never obtrusively if it was obvious we were busy. Mostly they'd read the newspaper or visit with other customers. I can't ever remember thinking "Gee, I wish that person would leave" about an otherwise well-behaved, normal person.

As long as you order something and tip well, you're fine.
posted by amyms at 3:20 PM on July 29, 2009

If it's not busy then no one minds, even if you don't buy food all day. Some places actually have signs that say "2 hour limit" for how long you're allowed to sit there. If this one doesn't, and you're not causing trouble, then you can stay there all day.
posted by KateHasQuestions at 3:22 PM on July 29, 2009

Also, an inhabited coffee shop looks better than a deserted one.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:34 PM on July 29, 2009

While I have never been a barista, I have been the roommate of a few, so I got to listen to their post-work venting about customers. As long as you're polite, tip, and don't cause them to have to refill everything from ghetto lattes, you're cool. They may even treat you nicer than the folks who fly in and out, especially if they're making more money off you (tips, not necessarily sales).

As a sidenote, tristeza, your name reminded me of the band which I had liked very much some years back and discovered I have missed a few albums, which I will now seek out. Thanks!
posted by ashabanapal at 3:37 PM on July 29, 2009

If you see yourself becoming a regular, try to make nice with them (as you're dropping a buck in the tip jar) in a way that doesn't weird them out, waste their time, or could be construed as hitting on them. I did that for a few months and was being given "the employee discount" (ie, free coffee) before I knew it.
posted by np312 at 4:51 PM on July 29, 2009

As a former barista, we don't care if you're there all day long, as long as you are "being productive". this means anything from surfin' the net to reading a book, conversing with people. Customers coming in to cool down from the heat is not uncommon (or coming in from cold, depending on season). It is by no means "illegal". It's a public establishment and you are entitled to stay there as long as you want!

Also seconding ashabanal.
posted by ThaBombShelterSmith at 4:55 PM on July 29, 2009

My local wireless cafe has a note saying to please not bring in outside food or beverages and, if at all possible, to spend about $2 an hour, since they are a coffee house and not a public meeting space. I think if you meet those guidelines, you should be fine.
posted by acoutu at 4:58 PM on July 29, 2009

If it's run by Starbucks then you are for sure good to go - their whole marketing strategy involves becoming a "Third Place" .
posted by smartypantz at 6:16 PM on July 29, 2009

I used to work at a Barnes and Nobles and we view every [paying] customer with respect. Provided that they don't leave a mess and are buying something, we'll love you and do everything we can to make your stay pleasant.

Don't feel bad about staying there.
posted by vmrob at 6:36 PM on July 29, 2009

I barista in the summer, and we have tons of customers who do exactly what you've described. And we don't mind it at all, as long as you leave a decent 5-10 minutes before we close (only because there are things we're not allowed to clean while there are customers in the shop).
posted by canadia at 7:03 PM on July 29, 2009

Since the consensus seems to be that it's fine to hang out as long as you're buying stuff, I hope it won't be too burdensome if I ask this: what if I seriously don't want / can't eat anything they have there? Is there some way I can just give the shop some money to be allowed to stay there & use my computer or talk with someone?

Obviously I could put cash in the tip jar, but is that enough to satisfy the cafe overlords?

Frankly, even when I'm not being very careful about what I eat, sometimes there's literally *nothing* at Starbucks (or its ilk) that appeals to or is good for me. But sometimes it would be really nice to be able to hang out there guilt-free. How?
posted by amtho at 7:06 PM on July 29, 2009

Not wanting anything at Starbucks includes drinks, even bottled water.
posted by amtho at 7:08 PM on July 29, 2009

amtho: you can't have a banana or a bottle of fruit juice? A cup of tea? Hot apple cider? A bottle of water? Starbucks and most coffee shops sell all of the above, and more. If you're meeting someone and they buy something, that's probably okish, but just plunking down there without buying anything isn't that nice, and they aren't necessarily going to know that you tipped without buying. If you really can't have anything they sell whatsoever, perhaps you could go to the public library? Or buy something to have later/give to someone else later?
posted by zachlipton at 7:11 PM on July 29, 2009

amtho: just buy a cup of tea or coffee, tip the barista, and set it on your table while you work/chat. You don't have to drink it. Get it "for here" if you're concerned about wasting a paper cup. Making a purchase means you're a legit customer (what the manager cares about) and tipping means you're a nice customer (what the barista cares about). No one is going to care what you do with your purchase.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:17 PM on July 29, 2009

Thanks, but I'm wondering if there's a way to compensate the shop if I don't buy anything.

No, even decaffeinated tea, which is only available hot, is not a good idea. Caffeine - not a good idea. Sugar, even in fruit, sometimes only makes me sleepy. Water - sometimes, the plastic bottle just is yucky. No, I'm not always this picky, but some days I have to be (I'm a singer). Anyway, the premise is: assume I can't buy anything. I'd rather just give the shop $5 - the time is _worth more_ to me, and probably _costs more_ to the cafe, than the markup on a banana and a bottle of water, anyway

Geez, I'm sorry for the derail. But I really want to know, and I hope it's still topical...
posted by amtho at 7:28 PM on July 29, 2009

I think the short answer is no, you can't compensate the shop without buying anything. They sell certain goods, and you have the option of consuming those goods in their comfy chairs while using their wifi. They don't sell units of comfy chair sitting or wifi access. Tips go to baristas, not to the store itself, so putting a $5 in the jar doesn't pay for your enjoyment of the place.

I'm not trying to be harsh, I just think the answer to your question, as distinct from the OP is no. The answer to the OP is that it's fine to sit there all day, provided you've purchased something.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:54 PM on July 29, 2009

Yeah, that's kind of been my assumption, but with all the baristas/former shop employees coming in here to comment, I'd hoped maybe they knew something encouraging. Oh, well. Thanks.
posted by amtho at 8:04 PM on July 29, 2009

Conscientious people do less to bother others, and worry more about what they have done.

I wouldn't sweat it, no pun intended.
posted by fantasticninety at 8:52 PM on July 29, 2009

amtho, you could buy a $5 gift card, and just keep it around to give to someone for birthday/Christmas/etc. If you feel you'll still look like a squatter after that, you could also ask for water in a for-here glass - the water there is quite good (quadruple-filtered or something crazy), glass is washable, and since you bought SOMETHING, it shouldn't be an issue.
posted by sarahsynonymous at 9:10 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

current starbucks barista - as long as you don't make a mess, I really don't care how long you sit there. I pretty much forget about you as soon as I hand off your drink/change. I don't know how busy that store is but mine is hella busy and I have way more stuff to worry about. if you're buying/tipping more than once, they probably love you. for the tip, not for the purchase ;).

@amtho, what about putting some money on a gift card and giving it to a friend? that way you're spending money and would probably make someone's day. :)
posted by thisisnotkatrina at 9:16 PM on July 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Ex-Starbucks barista here. Frankly, the (good) regulars are what makes that kind of work interesting and bearable. We had a bunch of freelancers, webby people and assorted laptop-totin' folks working out of every store I worked in, and chatting with them, making them feel welcome and, importantly getting repeat custom from them was a plus to the store.

But, be one of the regulars who "knows the score":

- Don't hang out by the serving area all day being all Alan Partridge and awkward. Just get your drink, bit of small talk, back to your seat. Once you become known, baristas will probably stop to say hi and chat when they're bussing tables and suchlike.

- Buy stuff regularly. Hey, it's cheaper than renting office space!

- Tip

- Leave promptly when chairs start going up on tables. Seriously, we've all been on our feet for eight hours and we would like to go home, and the quicker the store is cleared, the quicker we can clean and get it all closed up.

But yeah, places like the linked coffee shop and Starbucks make a lot of money out of regulars, and they also encourage other custom (people will often filter in rapidly when they see a couple of others inside, whereas they might hesitate to enter an empty store).

Don't sweat it.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:23 AM on July 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

« Older Debit card fraud?   |   How to make the Sound of Music sluttier? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.