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Snakes & Lattes: The Anti-Web Cafe

August 31, 2010  Snakes and Lattes, a pro board game, anti-internet cafe on Bloor Street West has 1500 games on site. in Toronto  TORONTO STAR/STEVE RUSSELL
Cafes have become places where data is consumed as much, if not more, than coffee.

With free Wi-Fi being offered by major chains such as Starbucks and Second Cup, the majority of people in cafes are armed with laptops and a willingness to hang out for a long time.

For cafe owners, it’s a mixed blessing because free Wi-Fi draws customers but these customers also take up valuable real estate because they stay a long time without consuming a lot of product – at least product that costs money.

So it was interesting to stumble upon Snakes & Lattes in downtown Toronto, which does not offer free Wi-Fi or, for that matter, Wi-Fi at all. Instead, S&L has more than 1,500 board games that people can play for $5/table. It means that instead of staring into the digital abyss, people are playing a game and interacting with each other.

In this day and age, this is a pretty awesome (and old school) thing that S&L is trying to encourage. It’s also pretty fantastic marketing given it must be difficult for cafes to differentiate themselves now that everyone is offering free Wi-Fi to lure Internet users.

Here’s hoping that games rather than data will give S&L the competitive edge it needs to survive a crowded marketplace.

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  • Laura

    The problem with this place is they don’t know how to treat customers. Is it because they are so busy they feel the ones in the door are most important and potential ones do not matter. I tried to make a reservation and after a month of calling I finally get a human. He tells me they cannot take my group of eight and that we should go else where. What did I hear that correct? He just said my group of eight people should go else where? Yup, that’s good business savy! Now I’m posting it. I will go else where with my group of eight, tonight and every night!!!