Vermont Café Pulls Plug on Laptops, iPads

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August First café banned laptops and iPads this month, and has seen sales increase

Facebook/August First

According to owner Jodi Whalen, café campers make it difficult for new customers to find seats.

Attention all Burlington, Vt. area finals crammers, aspiring novelists, and iPad video editors: August First Bakery & Café doesn’t want your business. Well, they don’t want your business if you’re planning on plugging in and setting up shop on your laptop or tablet, anyway. According to a report from NPR’s All Tech Considered, the café formally banned all large-screened devices earlier this month.

While the move was initially met with resistance, owner Jodi Whalen reports the move has actually helped August First’s sales. Whalen opened the café four years ago, offering her customers — largely students from nearby University of Vermont — free Wi-Fi. She noticed students would hang out for hours on their computers and two years later, she decided to pull the Wi-Fi plug. At the beginning of the month she decided to take it a step further by posting a sign that read “No laptops, iPads or Similar Devices. Reading, day dreaming, and chit chatting are encouraged.”

Since the dawn of café Wi-Fi, conventional wisdom has been if you keep customers plugged in they will spend. But according to Whalen, making sure new customers have a place to sit and table space overrides any of the potential benefits. Could this be the beginning of the end of café campout sessions? Considering the results, it’s certainly possible more coffee shops will follow suit. But in the meantime, Vermonters will need to find another spot to write their future Oscar-nominated screenplays and Great American Novels.

Adam D’Arpino is the Restaurants Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @AdamDArpino.

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