There’s a café in London called Café Ziferblat that offer customers free coffee, tea, biscuits and Wi-Fi, but charges per minute. If that’s the case – drink up. I picture customers filling up thermos of coffee. This is smart business if customers linger, but not if they dash in and out.

My husband and I had lunch at a busy restaurant. Sitting next to us at a table for four was one girl and her laptop. With laptop, papers strewn about, a cup of coffee and feet up on the opposite chair the table became her private office in a public place. Even though she had a right to be there – was it inconsiderate of her to monopolize a table for four with others waiting? Should the manager have said something to her? She was there when we arrived and there when we left.

I think this is why restaurants that offer free Wi-Fi should bring back the counter, that restaurants such as Howard Johnson’s and Woolworth’s use to have. The counter section can be for Wi-Fi customers. Just hop up on a stool, set up laptop, papers, family photo, order your coffee and get to work. You won’t take up unnecessary space and the restaurant won’t lose business due to customers who can’t wait.

This leads me to a question. When a restaurant is busy – how long is too long to wait for a customer to pay their bill? Once they get the bill, how long should a couple be allowed to sit and talk, making hungry patrons wait? When is it ok for the manager to say something? Is it ever ok? Should there be a time limit?

I’ve been at restaurants, next in line to replace the couple sitting at table 6 with the check. I get excited when the man gets up. Then I get upset when the man removes his wallet from his pants and sits back down. I know never to get excited and expect a quick exit from the two ladies lunching because when the check comes they’ll get out paper and pen. Each one pays for their lunch and not a penny more. Mary will be made to pay even for the soggy fry (which she didn’t like) that Peggy offered her.

If they were at Café Ziferblat the only thing they’d have to calculate is their time. That should motivate them to move along.

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