Squatters no longer welcome at DC bakery and coffee shop

Call it a clampdown on coffee shop squatters. A neighborhood bakery in the District is trying to cut down on people who buy a cup of coffee and then spend the day hanging out with their heads buried in their electronic devices.

Bread Furst is a cafe bakery on Connecticut Avenue in Van Ness. Customers who grab a coffee and a bite to eat and then make themselves right at home for hours on end are no longer welcome there.

"I don't have the resources to provide an office for everyone who wants to spend an entire morning or an afternoon working in our space,” said Bread Furst owner Mark Furstenberg. “It just doesn't work for a small business like ours."

He said he has asked customers to leave when they have camped out after finishing their breakfast or lunch. He has also placed notices on every table and counter space. It makes it clear that laptops are not welcome. It also adds, “don't make this your workplace.”

It is a move applauded by some of his customers.

"If I want to work, I go to my office,” one customer told us. “I love to come in here, read the paper. I check the emails on my phone and then I leave. I don't have time to sit in a bakery and work.”

Furstenberg has blogged about his campaign. The story was picked up by the Washington Post this week.

"I want to be a neighborhood place, a family place,” said Furstenberg. “I want this to be a place of sociability where people come to visit, have a coffee, have a croissant, have a scone, a sandwich. And I want them to enjoy each other and enjoy the place, but then move on."

This is not the only D.C. area business that is cracking down on laptop squatters. Some are even going as far as turning off their Wi-Fi to get people to leave.

"I think it's actually the wave of the future to get people to have conversations with each other face-to-face,” said another Bread Furst customer. “So it's nice to come to a place where people say hi and look up and not everyone is staring at screens all the time."

Furstenberg said he understands why it has happened.

"We have adopted in our culture this notion of a third space and that's a place outside the home and outside the office where people can do their work because work has become so portable,” he said.

But if you bring your work to Bread Furst, please carry it out the front door.

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