— Sara Lang (@SaraLang) March 26, 2016
Some businesses try to discourage people from camping out with their laptops by not offering Wi-Fi. A Baked Joint in Mount Vernon Triangle is now going a step further with a sign that reads, "Our tables are for dining—NO computers or study material."
Operations Director Tessa Velazquez says her concern is not about squatters taking over tables for hours, but rather, the type of environment it creates when everyone is glued to their screens. As for "study materials," Velazquez says she's seen people come in with four or five big textbooks, notebooks, and highlighters then take up two tables. That's the type of situation the establishment would like to avoid—not someone reading a book.
"What we're really focusing on is bringing back that face-to-face interaction and community," Velazquez says. When people take up space with computers and books, she says there's often not room for those who came to catch up with friends and share a drink or meal.
Plus, Velazquez says that A Baked Joint is meant to be a restaurant, not a coffee shop. "You wouldn't go to Le Diplomate and take all your books and your food and sit there and hunker down there," she says.
A Baked Joint first displayed its "no computers or study material" sign last weekend. Velazquez says the plan is only to put it out on weekends when the place is really crowded. "We're not going to put up signs or kick anyone out on a weekday, necessarily. But ideally, we'd like for it to be accepted and known that this is a place to eat, a place to drink, a place to gather," she says.
So far, the staff hasn't had to enforce the rules. "I hope it doesn't have to come to us going around and yelling at people. We really, truly don't want to do that at all," Velazquez says.
But the rule is already facing some pushback. (Just check out the tweet above.) Regardless, Velazquez says others have thanked her. She also points out that A Baked Joint's sister spot, Baked & Wired, faced an initial uproar when it got rid of its Wi-Fi, but the policy is now generally accepted.
"We really aren't trying to be assholes. It's trying to promote a positive environment," Velazquez says. "It's not about turning tables for us. It's truly not. You can sit there talking to your friend over a cup of coffee for four hours, and I would prefer that over someone who has their books spread out and their laptop."