A Look Into the Future

According to Cyber Cafe's owner Bob Angelone, Kinko's will soon be the place to go if the newly found franchises don't start putting more emphasis on the "cafe" in "cybercafe." The very technology that make the cafes famous, could be their downfall if an equilibrium is not achieved between the two ingredients.

Angelone emphasized his view by pointing out, since cybercafes have opened, not one culinary, hospitality or foodservice publication has written a single article about the establishments.

The competition? Kinkos and soon Starbucks, Apple computers and MacDonald's. All three of the latter have announced plans to open cybercafes and include them in existing operations.

Angelone predicts that once these operations are up and running, less than 10 percent of the current cybercafes will be in business.

In attempting to survive these incorporations, cybercafes may be driven to stay open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They may also have to enforce a "spend or leave" policy for those who simply like the cafe atmosphere. Untill then, cybercafes will have to experiment with the adding or subtraction of services until the equation is right.

My Thoughts

Internet Cafe's owner, Arthur Perley, said in a Penninsula Daily News article that what excites him is that in order to come into cybercafes you have to risk something intellectually and try something you've never done before. Perley's statement is why I think cybercafes will survive and continue to grow. Angelone is right about putting more of an emphasis on food, but I don't see Starbuck's or MacDonalds posing a threat.

Each cafe in Europe and in the Unites States offers a different experience and ambiance as well as different food. People enjoy going to cafes because it makes them more cultural. As long as cybercafes keep themselves unique, each visit a customer makes will be somehting they've never done before. The Internet will also keep the experience unique because of how fast it changes everyday. There will always be something new for a cafe to offer.

Perhaps it is time that a new perspective is born, one that captures the spirit and idealism of the cafes of old and combines it with the broader perspective that modern communications allow us. The only problems I see are the cost and upkeep of the terminals in the cafes. The simple solution is to not have too many terminals. This means lower cost and the cafe will always remain packed until something better than a computer and the Internet comes along. .