Friday, January 23, 2015

No-Go Starbucks Cafes

The news media is filled with stories about "no-go" zones in France and England, and do they really exist, and who is exaggerating about them and who is denying what is plain as day to anyone who knows what is happening in today's world.

It dawned on me that every person has his or her own "no-go zones." Places you won't go for an entire host of reasons:

  • high crime
  • probability of violence
  • likelihood of encountering someone you want to avoid
  • stores are too expensive

For myself, I instantly thought of cafes and restaurants that I will or won't enter due to a number of factors. I mentioned before about the importance of a cafe's atmosphere and if it is wrong, then I have no interest in going there.

Some cafes I previously enjoyed returning to on a regular basis I won't enter anymore. They have become "no-go" cafes. And when I think of why they have turned into "no-go" cafes, the reason is almost unfailingly: A change in the furniture.

Sometimes it's the clientele, obnoxious characters who suddenly move into a cafe and thereby causing an exodus of all the right people who no longer feel comfortable there. But more often than not, it's the new furniture that transforms a cafe into a "no-go" zone.

I prize highly the small round individual tables that have been a hallmark of cafes such as Starbucks. I can think of 2 Starbucks cafes near me that recently changed their furniture by removing single tables and replacing them with larger "communal" tables or the "high chairs" that are placed at higher tables and counters.

I'm not a fan of "high chairs" for adults, or those larger tables that seat six or more people. I've heard Starbucks thinks that its customers, who are strangers to each other, should talk to each other, and be forced to share the same table, like it or not. Do most customers want large tables so they can sit next to strangers and get to know them? Was there a survey I missed?

Maybe I go to the wrong cafes but it's not often that I find myself sitting next to someone at a large table that proves a desirable neighbor, temporary or otherwise.

The removal of those single round tables turns a once acceptable cafe into a "no-go" zone. Such cafes are looking for a different type of customer than myself, no question. But I take comfort in knowing that each cafe's furniture is different. No two are the same.

But my worry is that Starbucks is slowly and inexorably removing its small round tables in favor of larger ones. No-go for me, an enticement for others.

Check out my short story collection I mostly wrote in cafes: Queen of the Chess Cult and Other Stories

Check out my novel, written mostly in cafes: Murder at the Library Conference:

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