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Coffeehouses plug in, customers tune out

joesquillace300.jpg
Thomas Crone | For the Beacon
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This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone is a freelance writer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone is a freelance writrer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone is a freelance writ

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone is a freelance writrer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone is a freelance writer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone is a freelance writrer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone is a freelance writ

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone is a freelance writrer.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: June 22, 2008 - Coffeehouses, whether chain or independent, have become so commonplace that they now serve as most anything that a neighborhood needs -- whether it's a gathering point for a weekly euchre club or a near-to-campus location for first dates.

Increasingly, though, local coffeeshops are serving as remote offices for workers who've fled their real workplaces for an hour, or two, or as full-on, de facto offices for freelancers, or those with uncommon work hours.

{C}{C}

On a recent weekday morning, Joe Squillace could be found in his usual venue: along the streetside windows of MoKaBe's, a coffeehouse at Grand and Arsenal in South City. Arriving soon after the cafe's 8 a.m. start, Squillace works on any number of projects there, during what's usually a three- or four-hour daily stint. He's busy, while there: As an adjunct professor at St. Louis University, he grades numerous papers; and as a Ph.D. candidate in public policy at the same school, he's got more than a small amount of research to undertake.

To get all of it done, he walks a single block to MoKaBe's, his regular haunt, where a cup of coffee and a cigarette help him greet the day.

"I am a total introvert," Squillace says. "I live in my own head, most of the time. I have an ability to block everything out; the external stimuli are not distracting to me. After 30-minutes of pounding the keys, I can stop and have a friendly conversation or just observe what's around me. I can't work at home, at all. Even if the house is empty, the pets demand attention. My wife gets lots of calls, and the phone's always ringing. Then the dogs bark at the dumptruck. I have a better chance to concentrate here, than at home."

Mo Costello's also part of the appeal. Squillace says he enjoys supporting her coffeehouse because it's such a popular gathering spot, for so many people in the immediate vicinity.

"The 'community' remains here, even in the WiFi/laptop generation," he says. "There's a sense of people willing to talk to one another. The setting here is really important to me."

For her part, Costello says that she resisted adding wireless connectivity for several years before finally giving in to the client requests. She was worried that the arrival of computers would mean the end of the face-to-face coffeehouse experience that she'd nurtured for a decade. A few years into wireless at MoKaBe's, the service is so established that you see people sitting on the patio working, even on the rare summer days when the coffeeshop is closed for vacation.

Costello says she's rarely had to boot people for overuse, though she does see regulars coming in daily, for both coffee and the web. Workers for non-profits, in particular, seem to answer to that description.

"We've not had problems with it," she says. "Once again, 99.9 percent of people understand that if you're going to use WiFi, buy something, get a refill. We just haven't had people with a problem understanding that. We're lucky. Otherwise, I'd have to post up a bunch of rules, and there's nothing I hate worse than that.

"The only time we've had a bit of a problem is when a big group that meets on a monthly basis comes in, and they can't get the tables they're used to. Even then, I don't think we're losing anybody because they can't find a place to sit. If it's crowded and only one person is at a four-top, I'm hopeful that someone would ask them to share a table."

Even at the chains, even the heaviest of computer usage has few outright restrictions.

At the Old Orchard location of the St. Louis Bread Company, shift supervisor Katie Schulz says the biggest run of users come in the afternoon, usually escapees from local businesses, there to work on projects without the distractions of the office.

The biggest issue, she says, "is outlets, they kind of fight over the outlets. You'll see four of them over there and two over here, until all the outlets are tied up.

"Even if it's really busy, they can stay. The only issue is if someone's on a table for six, or eight, and they're using a laptop and have papers everywhere. That's the only time we ask them to move."

At Meshuggah, the wireless has been out for nearly a month, but the popular U. City coffeeshop is still going strong. Part of that's because it's a cool, inviting spot in a great neighborhood. As important, customers have figured out that they can draw on the neighbors' unsecured WiFi feeds. On the same day Squillace was laboring at MoKaBe's, seven of the 17 people at Meshuggah were at single tables, tapping away at computers, thanks to the next-door neighbor, NAPPS.

Longtime Meshuggah barrista and manager Annie McCutchen says that's not an unusual sight, folks from their 20s to their 40s crouched over their laptops, doing a lot more than Myspace-surfing.

"That's happened before," she says, when asked if the entire room had ever been computer-only.

"Sometimes, you do see a majority of people on the computer." Pause. "And on their headphones."

Because even when you're working, you gotta have great sound.

To reach freelance writer Thomas Crone, contact Beacon features and commentary editor Donna Korando.

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