Blockin’ Out The Scenery, Breakin’ My Mind

Found out from Phil O at the party the other night that the Kava House on Kalamazoo south of 60th street has free wifi. This is really near my house, so I needed to check them out. A lot of my friends who live in Eastown love the Kava House in Eastown all to pieces.

My reactions are mixed. Two signs on the door seemed very unfriendly to me. “Restroom for customers only” and “Wireless for customers only (1 drink minimum)”.

This is a coffee house in a strip mall out in the pucks. Do they really have a problem with an excess of people walking by and trying to use their restroom? Has that really caused a problem in the past, such that they need to put it out there on a sign? Or are they just kind of jerks who resent the idea that they might possibly be duped into providing a service to the public without remuneration?

As for the “wireless for customers only (1 drink minimum)”, I can understand that they don’t want people plunking down and using their connection for hours on end without buying anything. I would never do that. But I’d like to imagine that they feel they could trust me to do that without the sign. (Also, isn’t the “1 drink minimum” redundant? How could you be a customer by buying less than 1 drink? Are they saying it wouldn’t count if I bought breath mints? Have they seriously encountered a problem with customers coming in and using their wireless but buying LESS than one drink?)

Oh, there’s also a handmade sign saying “Kava Cop says STOP: One Drink Minimum.” So not only can’t you use the wifi without a drink, you can’t even be there without a drink.

The signs out front give the impression that these people are obsessed by the fear that someone may get something from them for nothing — that their precious seating space and ambience and wifi may be abused by the unwashed, no-drink-buying masses. This comes across as massively hostile to me. I have not seen anything like it at any other wifi enabled coffee house in the area. It’s bizarre. I have a hard time believing, given the location, that it’s based on actual problems with deadbeats rather than just a general mean-spiritedness.

Apart from the signs it’s been good. Lots of available power-pluggage, pleasant atmosphere, reasonable connection, a guy who I assume was the manager was helpful, wanted to make sure I could find a plug, friendly staff. Everything’s good, but man, the signs really convey hostility to the public.

A copy of this review was posted at If you’ve been there, drop in and post a comment yourself!

6 thoughts on “Blockin’ Out The Scenery, Breakin’ My Mind”

  1. I talked to the owner of a different coffeehouse about those sort of signs once. I was amused to learn that he didn’t really enforce them normally. He just kept them up because coffeehouses usually end up being hang-outs for high school and college aged people. With those who do drink/eat, there are often those who don’t. If they just stay there for hours and order nothing, he points to the sign. But not until hours have passed. And even then only if they’re causing a nuisance for actual paying customers.

    It’s more an excuse than it is an actual policy.

  2. Two things, Ed:
    1) One must assume from reading this post that the author has never owned a business. Step into their shoes for a moment and you will see that, though you have a point, so do they.
    2) If #1 fails to comfort, why not discuss it with the manager in person (like Jim did)? Perhaps you could offer suggestions on what might be less irksome to upstanding patrons such as yourself.

  3. I have certainly never owned a business. But I have patronized several similar establishments in the city, none of which found the need to display these signs. Why just this one?

    If this were necessary I’d expect to see them everywhere.

    Discuss it with the manager? Nah. Too shy. I will just spew my bile on the Intarweb. ;)

    Like I said, it’s a nice place in general. I’m sure I’ll be back, sign or no sign. :)

  4. My observation has been that coffeehouses with the one drink minimum are almost always planted near high schools. That final bell rings, the hordes arrive and they could easily occupy all available seats without buying a single thing. In the end, it’s the mojo of the staff that matters most.

  5. Hmm… there is a high school nearby. That could be it. Self-defense against the teenage hordes.

    Initial impression: good staff mojo.

  6. I agree the signs are not very welcoming. I was once kicked out of this place because my boyfriend ordered a coffee and I just ordered a soda.
    I was in there today and ordered a decaf coffee drink, it had a bit of an odd taste so I wondered if they used chemical or natural methods of decaffing. I called and very rudely asked “why?” Because I have a right to know what I am putting into my body. sheesh. I think I’ll stick with Essential Bean in Caledonia, super friendly!!!

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