Sometimes, the work-from-home crowd needs a place where they can work away from home. Where can they go? They can join one of the co-working spaces springing up around DC. They can try to find a spot at a coffee shop, preferably one with wifi. Or, they can head to a restaurant that is opening its doors to workers: Indique in Cleveland Park.
In September, the restaurant at 3512-14 Connecticut Avenue launched a co-working space called Chai + Wifi, and as the name suggests, the chai and the wifi are part of the package. Customers can sign up for memberships on a monthly or as-needed basis (you’ll find details here). The memberships buy you unlimited access to the space from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and unlimited tea, chai and coffee.
The young co-owners of Indique (the sons of the founders) hit upon the idea while searching for a place they could work remotely. They priced co-working spaces, tried going the coffee shop route, and then realized they liked working in the restaurant during off hours. As they say in their FAQ: “[I]t turned out to be a pretty sweet place to work out of. It has great sunlight, strong wi-fi, plenty of seating, and delicious chai, and the restaurant was closed anyhow during the daytime, so it made for a pretty perfect workspace.”
— Indique Restaurant (@Indiquedc) September 21, 2016
Indique co-owner Sahil Rahman told Forest Hills Connection that co-working spaces like his eliminate the “pain points” you’d find at Starbucks and other spots with free wifi.
“First, once you walk in you have to purchase a coffee,” Rahman told us in an email. “Then you have to find a seat, and once you do, you look around wondering if you’re close to a power outlet. After you get settled, now it’s on to hoping the wifi connects, and by the time you’ve settled in, you feel pressured to buy another coffee. Now you’ve drank two coffees and you have to run to the restroom…and what do you do with your laptop?!”
At Chai + Wifi, coffee is part of the deal, and you’re not expected to buy lunch. Indique is not even open for lunch on weekdays, though it is selling food to its co-working customers at lunchtime on Fridays.
— Indique Restaurant (@Indiquedc) October 10, 2016
Rahman drew inspiration from a retail shop in New York called Fair Folks & A Goat and the membership-based coffee shop inside.
“I loved the community feel in the space, as well as the affordable price point, which both served as major influences for us as we got started with the foundations of Chai + Wifi,” Rahman said.
A DC yoga studio provided more inspiration.
“I am also a big fan of the folks over at Flow Yoga and the WorkFlow program they pioneered in the yoga studio space,” Rahman said, “and love how all kinds of businesses are finding ways to creatively utilize their spaces.”
Is this something Van Ness and Forest Hills businesses could try? Indique’s solution might be unique to that restaurant, since it is welcoming co-workers during weekday hours when it is usually closed. Other eateries carve out space for workers. The Den at Politics and Prose set up a spot just for laptop users. Still others, like Bread Furst, discourage people from setting up satellite offices because space is tight.
How else could local businesses create new uses for their spaces? We’re interested in your comments.