Wifi at Reverie Cafe

If you're doing laundry at Doug's Suds right next door, the Reverie Cafe (map, reviews) is a life saver. It's nice to have a place to sit and drink some coffee and not be too far from your laundry. Also, they have one of the best breakfast deals in the neighborhood.

I found mention of Reverie on another blog.  At first, I was a little taken aback. But on reflection, I think CityMama has a point. 


Or, reason number 74,893 why San Francisco should get over itself.

I had some business in Cole Valley this morning so I packed my laptop thinking I would find a cafe in which to do some work. We lived in Cole Valley back when the Tully's around the corner from us on Cole St. was a Spinelli's (Italian slang for "joint") and watched as Reverie Cafe went in diagonally across the street.  We were pissed about losing our beloved Spinelli and regarded Reverie with interest as it is an independent coffee shop.

When Reverie first opened the sugar was contained in fancy silver bowls and they set out real spoons with which people could stir their coffee. We knew it wouldn't last long. Not in a coffee shop located just blocks from Haight street. We knew that every punk-ass, homeless street kid with a trust fund within a 10 block radius would soon be cooking up some dope on those spoons.

It was the last time we went to Reverie. We heard rumors that Craig Newmark (our nabe three buildings down) liked to have coffee there. Benjamin Bratt apparently stopped by. Business picked up.

We eventually moved away to sunnier parts of the city and then to Portland. Now that we are back I decided to stop in there today thinking, if any place in Cole Valley has free Wifi, it will be Reverie.

I fired up my computer and…nothing.

I walked up to the counter thinking maybe there was aspecial password or something required for log-in.

Me: "Hi, do you guys have Wifi?"
Barista dude (with disdain in his voice): Noooooooo

Then he turns his back to me. Ass. Hole.

Barista chick (nervously stepping in to explain): It's just that we serve food here and if we had free WiFi…
Me: Customers would come here in droves?
Barista chick: Uh, yeah, and then just…camp out.  We serve food here…
Me: That is…wow.  That is surprising. Can I have my coffee to go instead of for here?

O Portland, with your abundant Wifi and your plentiful outlets and extension cords into which people can plug their laptop power cords and your beautiful customer service: I miss you.

San Francisco is one of the most wireless cities in the world and yet no one is sharing. At Blue Danube, another wifi cafe in my 'hood, they charge for wifi access. What are they, Starbucks? Fuck that. I've posted before about how we keep our wireless network so anyone can log onto it if they want. What's the big deal about sharing some airwaves. If you are worried about privacy secure your network.

This account reminded me of when I was at Reverie Cafe a couple years ago and saw a photocopy of an article on the wall opposite the cash register. The gist of the article was that it's bad business to provide WiFi for customers since those customers might stay longer. I didn't like the tone of the article, which was exclusively economic and missed the point of one of the reasons why people go to coffeehouses these days.  Also, the placement of the article—very conspicuously on the wall—felt like wingeing by the owner and a passive aggressive way to justify not providing a service to his customers.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. leave luck to heaven
    Oct 04, 2006 @ 20:53:00

    i'd have to side with the small restaurant business owner on this one. they can't pay rent or run a business if they are unable to seat (let's be real here) higher-paying customers in their tiny café. if they had a larger place maybe my opinion would differ, but in practice they need to be able to make as much money per table/sq ft that they can. it's a small business.a real-life example of this is the canvas gallery and café on 9th and irving, which i used to visit regularly a couple years ago. they have free wi-fi, serve food, drink, and even have a liquor license. they even have plenty of square footage. but try to go there to grab a bite at the wrong time of day and the place is jammed with wifi users and their one empty coffee mug, or often, no food or drink at all. canvas hosts music, open mic, and other events in the evening, but the atmosphere of crammed bodies and their laptops just wasn't conducive of their focus — food and art — that they decided to shut down their wifi in the evenings. since then, the place had become a more pleasant place to be in and you can even get a table if you were hungry.one thing that i despise anywhere, especially in sf in which we are lucky enough to live in, is the sense of entitlement some people have. from the quoted post you'd think someone's well-being was resting on network access — and if it was, they they more things to worry about than checking their email or surfing the web. if they needed the internet so damn badly they do make such things as cellular and satellite modems, available for purchase in the more inhabited places in this country. then they can have the internet anywhere they can get a signal, café or no café.


  2. Timmy!
    Oct 04, 2006 @ 23:11:00

    I understand your point. Reverie Cafe is not a big place, but they do have a sizeable patio and whenever I've gone there's been ample seating available. And each time I've gone I've seen people reading books or reading the paper. I don't see a big difference between reading the dead-tree version or the online one. Or reading email. Parasites (those who take up space but don't buy much) are more of a phenomenon of the neighborhood than anything else. As for the sense of entitlement, I see it more as wifi envy. Doesn't it stick in your craw that freakin' Portland has better wifi than our lovely city?


  3. leave luck to heaven
    Oct 04, 2006 @ 23:14:00

    PS: the yelp review you linked to suggests they have free wi-fi, so now our thread is a bit moot.


  4. leave luck to heaven
    Oct 04, 2006 @ 23:16:00

    PPS: i'd rather live in sf than portland anyway.


  5. Timmy!
    Oct 04, 2006 @ 23:20:00

    Well, CityMama's blog post was back in February so it's possible they finally came around. As I said, parasites are more about the particular neighborhood—Cole Valley denizens can certainly afford to keep their coffee cup filled—so maybe they realized their clientele would keep them in the chips even with the wifi turned on. Easy cheap satellite modems are really not too far off so perhaps this whole thread is moot.


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