Tuesday, March 03, 2015

In Search Of The Hot Trendy Cafe

Some cafes I go to are hot and trendy. All the right people go there. Writers, young people, students, professionals, runners--it's a hot crowd. But other cafes are deserted, except a few bums and some scary people--the wrong people or a "cold" cafe. These two disparate cafes could be one block apart. I've seen it in many places.

So why is one cafe a roaring success but the other can't buy customers? If I were the owner, wouldn't I want a hot cafe, rather than one that is ice cold and doomed to failure? What would I do to guarantee mine became a hot cafe?


Some attributes of a successful cafe seem obvious:

  • Brand Name
Popular cafes such as Starbucks, Panera, Dunkin Donuts, or local cafes with positive name recognition

  • Location
Upscale neighborhoods without slums or boarded up properties

  • Clientele
Urban professionals, yuppies, writers, artists, the kind of people everyone wants to interact with and become friends. Desirable people attract more of the same. New customers see at a glance who is in there and who isn't. It makes a difference. If they don't who they see, they aren't staying and they aren't coming back.

  • Menu
At least the standard selection of coffees, lattes, frappuccinos, and teas. Breakfast and lunch sandwiches. Desserts.

  • Reputation
A national chain already has a reputation, local cafes can be thought of as desirable destinations or places to avoid. Word of mouth and review websites like Yelp.com contribute, either positive or negative.

  • Customer Seating Environment
Some cafes provide few seats and see themselves as take-out restaurants. Others will offer the standard round tables and wooden chairs, while others have couches and easy chairs.

  • Lack of "Scary" Loiterers
Addition by subtraction. A lack of bums and loiterers always helps. Many potential customers, especially women, tend to avoid those places where suspicious people linger and the bums have taken over. I suspect it's tough to discourage bums from staying without running afoul of local laws and such. The wrong people can destroy a café and put it out of business, so why wouldn't I want to attract the right customers and discourage the wrong ones?

I’m unconvinced some café managers think of these things. It's as if they think there's nothing they can do, and the success or failure of their cafe is in the hands of Fate. But if I’m looking out for “what’s best for business,” these success factors listed above have to be primary concerns of mine.

And as a customer, I need a lot of these things if I'm going to decide to come in on a regular basis with my keyboard and write.

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