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Brookline Café Ditches Wi-Fi After Business Turns Into ‘Sea of Laptops’

The owner of Allium Market in Brookline's Coolidge Corner says customer response has been overwhelmingly positive

A Massachusetts café is going unplugged and the reaction is surprising even the owner.

After Allium Market in Brookline's Coolidge Corner turned into a sea of laptops, owner Talia Glass decided to take a stand this month and said goodbye to public WiFi.

“What we’ve seen is people buy a cup of coffee, bring their laptop and then hang out for five hours,” Glass said. “It’s not glamorous to say, but it doesn’t pay the bills and it doesn’t speak to our core values.”

She posted an explanation for the decision on the front of the business and online, worried it would be controversial. But instead, she said the response was overwhelmingly positive.

New customers even commented to say they would come in to support the small business for making the choice.

“There was hundreds of likes and it was not at all what I expected. I genuinely prepared myself and my staff for really intense backlash,” Glass said.

With more and more people working remotely, cafes including Allium are being used as office space. Glass said she understands the need for a place to do work, but when a $4 latte turns into a five hour stay, small businesses like hers cannot survive.

Allium already does not allow any laptops on weekends. While their new choice might not sit well with everyone, including a few who have left one star reviews, the owner is just grateful her customers now have a place to sit, and so are they.

“I don’t avoid coming here because now I have a better chance of finding a seat,” customer Joyce Collier said. “It is a huge relief.”

Glass is encouraging customers to work at the nearby Brookline Public Library and will even give them a discount on a snack if they stop by Allium and show their library card.

“Please come in, unplug, enjoy some food and drink and be with friend,” she said.

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