Co-Working Before Dinner.
In 2016’s Absolutely Fabulous movie, Eddie hilariously set up her “home office” in a restaurant. “I’m working from Nobu this week,” she exclaimed, to the dismay of fellow diners, but she might have been onto something. While Nobu might not be the ideal working environment, not least because you’d need to book your “desk” three months in advance, New York is giving freelancers new opportunities on where to set up their workspace – in empty restaurants.
Spacious.com launched in June 2016, the brainchild of co-founder Preston Pesek, and the idea was sparked by a jet-lagged wander around Tokyo where he noticed an empty restaurant – no surprise in the middle of the night. Realising that in his home city of New York, many restaurants lay empty until dinner service began while countless freelancers searched for affordable workspace, he had an epiphany that led to him returning and setting up Spacious with business partner Chris Smothers.
The concept is simple and harks to the co-working phenomenon that has seen startups like WeWork, UberOffice and Central Working take off in recent years. Restaurants that would normally be closed in the day, opening for dinner service in the evening, are opened to members (who pay $95 per month to use the service, or can drop in for the day for $29) who use the spaces’ “lightning fast” wifi and take advantage of the complimentary coffee, drinks and snacks that are provided by Spacious. The workspace is available each day from 8.30am to 5pm.
The restaurants receive a percentage, of course, and each site is manned by an assistant who greets members and arranges new memberships. Currently, just five sites operate in NY, but these high-profile restaurants were chosen strategically in the hope that, if they work, then no-one will have a reason to think their premises will not benefit. It is also a great place, like other co-working environments, to network. A mixture of journalists, authors and designers mix with start-ups and tech entrepreneurs.
“We are taking fully-furnished spaces and making them available when they’re otherwise not needed by their primary occupant,” Pesek told the New York Business Journal. “The restaurants receive a share of profits, extra marketing exposure and a new audience for food and beverage sales.”
While Spacious doesn’t offer some of the services that designated office spaces do, like printers, it does offer workspace at a fraction of the price and means that you aren’t fighting for a space near a power outlet in Starbucks, asking for a take out cup so that you can sit and pretend to still be drinking it four hours later.
One member, David Knight, told the NYBJ that he chose Spacious because of location and budget. “For $95 a month, you can drink that on coffee,” he rightly said of his decision to swap his Pret spends on a membership without losing the caffeine fix. “I admire disruptive ideas. Here’s an empty restaurant not doing anything and they turn it into a great idea. It’s a very quiet atmosphere. Everyone’s respectful. It offers value for money. We’re a start-up, and every dollar counts.”
With it being estimated that half of New York’s workforce will be freelance by 2020, Pesek is rightly optimistic about his venture and is constantly seeking out new places to open up to his members. He also plans to open locations soon in San Fransisco, Los Angeles and, eventually, London.
Take a look at Spacious’s free trial offer, locations and services here.