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How Long Is Too Long to Linger In a Café?

Alex Van Buren
Food Features Editor
January 21, 2014

Photo credit: Getty Images

A brouhaha between a New York City McDonald’s and a group of senior citizens resulted in what one pun-loving assemblyman coined a “McResolution" this week. The problem? About 20 elderly gentlemen sought a social club, and the fast food outpost was situated conveniently close to their homes. The gents would sit for hours over $1 cups of coffee during busy rush hours, resulting in McManagement attempting to give them the boot (unsuccessfully) after 20 minutes.

After 911 calls were made and heated discussions were had, at last the two groups reached a solution: The men would avoid the Mickey D’s during peak hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and the franchisee would extend more hospitality to them during other times of day. 

The question of how much patrons must spend in order to “earn” a table at an establishment, and for how long, is one that ruffles feathers among patrons and café proprietors alike. Freelancers and those who work from home can camp out for up to eight hours at a time, if their laptops’ power permits.

Is that appropriate? 

We took to social media to ask how you handle your own café math, and the answers were as varied as can be. For some, two hours of café time entails spending $10. For others, two hours means spending “at least $5.” A writer who works from coffee shops told us, “I always make a point of buying food AND coffee refills—not just nursing one thing for hours. And I move to a counter spot or smaller table (or just clear out) if space is getting scarce.”

One fellow had very precise café math:

Another woman timed herself by coffee consumed:


As for us? In this writer’s freelance heyday, the protocol was $5-$10 on coffee and food for a few hours and $15-$20 for a full day. 

Cafés themselves know what a persnickety topic this is. We reached out to a few, and got this reply:

Keep chatting with us about this on Twitter! Maybe we’ll find some magical solution.  

[Daily News via Eater]

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