Cafe Keys

In Uncategorized on April 8, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Cafes have it rough.

On the one hand, they’re easy to open and manage. You inport coffee and muffins, you hire a few baristas, and customers manage themselves. Want a big influx of people on a Thursday evening? Invite a singer-songwriter to play guitar in the corner. Pittsburgh is overflowing with them. Everybody’s happy.

On the other hand, cafes are magnets for wayward teenags and homeless people, especially in winter. If you don’t like the customers, too bad — an angry punk-rocker could nurse the same cup of coffee for hours, and there’s nothing you can do about it until somebody actually complains. Cafes are the loiterer’s paradise.

The touchiest issue is the bathroom. For careless drifters, it’s easy to assume that “cafe restroom” means “public restroom,” because there’s no waiter or maitre d’ to stop them. So most cafes in Pittsburgh keep their restrooms locked. Managers place accusing signs by the cash register, reading: “Bathrooms are for customers ONLY!”

Gradually, baristas started attaching their restroom keys to large, unwieldy objects. This is my favorite trend in cafe management: Keys affix to spatulas, blunt silverware, wooden shafts, etc. The steel spoon pictured here belongs to the downtown branch of Crazy Mocha. I admired it a few extra seconds before washing my hands and getting a refill of the house blend.


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