Sticky Fingers Restricts Wifi on Saturdays


“Dear PoP,

I was shocked to find out on Saturday that Sticky Fingers (on Park Road, east of 14th) is no longer offering wifi on the weekends. I imagine it’s in response to too many people ordering one cup of coffee and sitting for four hours, but it really takes away my incentive to ever go there. I am currently looking for government jobs, for which the entire application process is online. With my current 9 to 5 job, the best time for me to work on applications is on the weekend and I much prefer doing this outside of my house. I always buy more than just a cup of coffee too. It seems like the greater Columbia Heights neighborhood is desperately in need of more coffee shops/cafes that offer wifi, not fewer. I’ve been at Tryst at 11 pm on a Tuesday and it’s packed with people on their laptops. Any suggestions on a place to find wifi on the weekends? I’d also like to get other readers thoughts on the decision of Sticky Fingers, Tynan, Tryst to not offer wifi at certain times.”

When I stopped in the store they said wifi would no longer be offered on Saturdays but would still be available on Sundays. Please let me know if that’s not accurate. I happen to be a big fan of Columbia Heights Coffee on 11th between Park and Monroe. Though the spot is a bit small. Other readers have mentioned some of their favorite spots here. Since then Mid City Cafe on 14th above Miss Pixie’s also seems to be a popular spot. Please add your recommendations in the comments as well as your thoughts in general on restricting wifi use. Would you pay for wifi at a coffee shop?

66 Comment

  • Qualia Coffee, just north of the Petworth metro on Georgia, has wifi. And the best cup of coffee I’ve had in DC.

  • When I was still in school, Jolt n’ Bolt (on 18th just south of Florida) was always my favorite place to study. Good food/drink, free wifi and a little terrace for nice weather.

  • if you want free computer access, go to a library. businesses are under no obligation to give you something for nothing, or nearly nothing.

  • Sometimes I go to Sticky Fingers on Mondays, it is always filled with people sitting on their laptops. Great place to get work done. Because of the hustle and bustle of CH on Saturdays, I totally understand their decision. Especially now with cooler weather, seating is pretty limited.

    I guess they do what they’ve got to do to make money.

  • I would guess they are probably responding to their competition. Tynan restricts weekend use. Starbucks makes you pay (last time I checked). Why would Sticky Fingers give something away when they don’t have to?

    But even if it isn’t a response to competition, they are a business. They don’t have to provide anything for free. The author makes no suggestion of significant hardship or burden; the entire letter is a string of “I wants”: I wanna not sit in my house to fill out job applications. I wanna use free wifi. I wanna apply for jobs on the weekend instead of during the week. I wanna buy one cup of coffee and then sit for a half a day in the coffee shop.

    Even if Sticky Fingers resumes offering wifi, or even if the author goes elsewhere that does, that isn’t justification for taking up a restaurant or shop’s space for hours and hours.

    A list of District hotspots, where a cheapskate doesn’t even have to buy a cup of coffee in order to sit for hours, is available here:

    In addition, the National Portrait Gallery Courtyard has free wifi (and free coffee, I believe), the Smithsonian Castle, and the Hirshorn have free wifi.

  • I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out with friends, thought about going to Sticky Fingers and decided against it because I knew we would never get seats because there would be people camped out at the tables surfing the web.

  • Coffee shops and restaurants are ideally supposed to be social places where people interact *in real life*. So here’s a kind suggestion for WiFi on the weekends when seating is scarce: your apartment.

  • What IMGoph said. Or get internet access for your house. Look into it.

  • My thought is, it’s not too profitable to have two to four person tables occupied by one person sitting in solitude, nursing one coffee, checking their e-mail and replying to blogs… errr like this… for hours on end. Personally, walking into a coffee shop w/ the standard apple fanboy office setup makes me want to get out there as quick as possible. That also means, getting just a cheap drink rather than the meal I intended. (see no seats due to fanboys)

  • A few years ago, I heard of shops turning off power outlets during prime time rather than the wireless. Since laptops ate batteries much quicker, there was a natural 2hr limit on how long a person could hog a spot

  • What’s with the pre-sliced bagels at Sticky Fingers? Really? Makes them way too dry. And a bakery with dry pastrys isn’t much of a bakery at all.

    I guess they don’t trust their staff with knives. Or bagel slicers. But hockey pucks, no problem.

  • You know, I like to take the laptop out for coffee as much as the next guy. And I have no problem “nursing” the coffee if there are lots of open tables left.

    But as soon as the place fills up, I can’t in good conscience just sit there with an hour-old drink. If there are no open tables, I’ll order drinks/food more frequently, or I’ll just leave.

    I wish more of my fellow laptoppers would act this way. As it is, I’m afraid we’re killing the very cafes we love.

  • it has nothing to do with tynan coffee or matching any other business’ policy. the laptop people were literally taking up multiple seats, spreading out over entire tables and placing their bags in the others seat at any given table. a select few basically set up mini offices inside. they were taking advantage of the policy in my opinion.

    if this no-wifi thing is a trend count me as a supporter.

    digital subscriber lines are like, $15 a month people. look into it.

    i will always support SH place wifi or not.

  • shocked? seriously? Maybe i’m nitpicking a bit too much. but that hyperbole just really annoys me. makes me feel like i’m reading an onion parody about a yuppie, rather than an actual email…

  • No sympathy for this one. Work on your applications from home. Frankly, you are exactly the kind of do-nothing, free-loading, entitlement freak I do NOT want working for the government in any capacity.

  • Who do you want as your customers? People who come in solo and keep a table for four hours for a $4 cup of coffee? Or people who come in, meet friends, get two $4 cups of coffee, talk for an hour, and leave? Basic math makes it clear. At $4 for 4 hours, you get $1 per hour value for the first kind of customer, and $8 for one hour value for the second kind of customer.

    I know we all want to pretend to get work done in cafes while still being cool and out and about, but let’s at least not pretend it’s good for the businesses.

  • While the applications are online, a lot of the *work* — the writing — is offline. So why don’t you compile in a Word document a list of the questions / KSAs before you leave home, and then bring your computer to the coffee shop to work on them?

  • I am sorry your entitlement has dried up but you do have options as long as you are willing to go a bit more distance.

    The Library of Congress Main, Science & Business, and Newspaper reading rooms are open M, W, Thurs 8:30AM-9:30PM and Tues, F, Sat 8:30AM-5:00PM and have free wi-fi. If you are at the Library you can even use all the databases they subscribe to free. And it is quite with plenty of room. Of course you can’t have coffee.

  • With so many businesses offering free WiFi these days, a lot of people are wrongly starting to feel that they are entitled to it wherever they go. If you need to connect to the internet that badly, get an air card or use tethering with your cell phone. The experience is pretty similar to WiFi in busy coffee shop.

  • Dirty vegan hippies don’t like to pay for anything so they pay $2 for a cup of coffee and take liberty of the free wi-fi for hours on end!

  • “No sympathy for this one. Work on your applications from home. Frankly, you are exactly the kind of do-nothing, free-loading, entitlement freak I do NOT want working for the government in any capacity.”

    Too late!

  • Just go ahead an rename this blog “Undeserved Sense of Entitlement.” I really hope the majority of this blog’s readers aren’t this whiny, but judging from the majority of the e-mails PoP posts, I’m thinking they are, sadly.

  • The National Portrait Gallery/SAAM does have free Wifi, but not free coffee (I wish). But you can walk over to Chinatown Coffee Company, get a coffee, and take it in to the courtyard at the museum. score!

  • Ah ha ha ha! AHHHH HAH HAH HAH!

    The responses to this post totally brightened my day after my 2hour commute to work this morning.


  • Wonderland opens at noon on Saturday and Sunday, has free wifi AND free waffles. No one can deny that a steady amount of alcohol over the course of a few hours in the afternoon positively affects the writing of cover letters.

  • It might be better for Sticky Fingers if they used a system where you have to get a new WiFi code every 30 minutes or hour so you have to keep buying something. These same people would complain about that too though.

    If you want free WiFi, go to *gasp* the library! It’s three blocks from Sticky Fingers!

  • I went to Sticky Fingers for the first time this week with a friend. Sat at the counter near the window because every single table was taken up by one person with a laptop. Looked like a (very small) classroom. I guess offering free wi-fi gets butts in the seats of coffee shops but I can’t imagine the serial squatters are good for business.

  • Oh boo hoo hoo…no free wifi. Give me a break. No where in our Constitution does it say anything about free web access being a right of any citizen of the USA. Get over it. Try, just for a little while to disconnect for a moment.

  • “…it really takes away my incentive to ever go there.”

    The policy change is working already!

  • Wow, I swear some people read this blog just to comment and attack others. Give it a rest!

    I think it can be nice sometimes to get out of the house or into a more lively/social atmosphere when you need to get work done. I completely understand the no wifi policy for cafes, but there are still some other options.

    Here are some of my suggestions:

    – Commissary on P Street – the middle area has comfortable individual chairs with the little attached desks (college style). I hung out there for literally 6 hours on a weekend and they were really cool about it. (I told myself if it got really crowded I would leave and give space to someone else, but throughout the day there were always at least 2+ other chairs available.) For staying that long, I ordered quite a bit of food/drinks but the servers were not pushy, and I think if you wanted to go and just get coffee and a pastry that it would be fine.

    – Bars! I have found some of the coolest daytime hangouts for camping with a laptop are bars (either set up at a high-top/table or at the actual bar, depending on space.) It is sort of serene, usually just a small group of people hanging out, a game on in the background, light streaming in from the outside. And really perfect if you want to semi-interact with a few new people in between getting some work done. Many of them are starting to offer wi-fi to get customers in during daytime hours. Most of them go beyond just offering drinks/bar food to having a brunch menu, decent coffee, etc. I am not 100% sure that all of these offer wifi, but it is worth checking: Grand Central in Adams Morgan, Stoney’s on P, Tonic in Mt. P.

    Good luck!

  • Why would you want to fill out job applications in a public cafe? You only have to fill out one resume for most government jobs (easy and simple) and the KSAs are pretty easy to write (generally). Just save your answers (with the question) in a word doc and recycle them (saves time and you still make the cert). Why waste your time and effort of going to a coffee shop and nursing a beverage? You’re the equivalent of a teenager who visits IHOP for hours while nursing their crappy coffee-no server wants this customer and neither does Sticky Fingers.

  • The real question is: why would you want to go to sticky fingers, period? that place is pink and crappy.

  • There are some people who are really lonely/needy and it seems they want to apply for jobs in public.

    I think it’s very fair to say that behavior is just plain weird.

    In the age of the blackberry I don’t know why people need to use public wifi anyway. It’s not like you can’t read emails on your blackberry.

  • PoP, I really hope your motivation for posting these sorts of whiney “Dear Pops” is to hold them out for public ridicule (in which case, bravo!), rather than to suggest that these are reasonable complaints that need to be addressed (in which case, sadface).

  • “I think it can be nice sometimes to get out of the house or into a more lively/social atmosphere when you need to get work done.”

    Work does not equal lively or social. Work means work, not a friggin social hour to drink coffee.

  • Internet / computers have become our generations TV’s. That includes the negative side effects. You look at a screen in a semi-comatose state reading / watching pointless material that is found in a book at the library. (Had to get library in the comment)

    Do love sticky fingers. Good coffee – better bean than CH Coffee. The best bean in town however is on Georgia ave.

  • I love Sticky Fingers! The best soy latte i’ve ever had. But I hate when I walk in there and see all the tables in the place taken up by people on their laptops. It looks like an office, not a cafe. I used to go to Java House in Dupont all the time, but now even the sidewalk cafe looks like an office.

    Laptops have drained the life (and profits) from these cafes, and I hope the trend continues to deny wifi or power in order to open these cafes again to vibrant spaces.

  • I am one of those people who appreciates this. Every time I’ve tried to sit and have a cup of coffee at any of these places, it’s packed with people on laptops. There is no where to go and just sit with a friend. I think this does point to the need for more coffee places in the neighborhood.

  • Regardless of the attitude that this person’s email suggests (I too think the word “shocked” was a bit much; how about “surprised” or “disappointed”?), I’m surprised that so many people seem to not get the preference for doing work outside of the house. Don’t you have distractions at your house/apt? I.e. annoying roommates/partners/kids, or laundry/dishes that take on a new sense of urgency when you’ve got an even more unpleasant task (job-hunting) facing you? I always worked better in the library/lab in college and grad school for these reasons. That said, the suggestion of “go to the library” is a good one.

  • I don’t think that they DRAIN profits. Whenever I camp at Sticky Fingers, I always get at least 2 coffees, a sweet and sometimes a full lunch.

    If they didn’t offer wi-fi at all, I wouldn’t go there at all. Wi-fi draws people in! Of course I could stay at home and get work done but sometimes I’m more productive in an outside atmosphere.

    Also, here’s a question about laptops in Sticky Fingers. I was there a few weeks ago and someone had an hour long Skype phone call on their computer. What do you guys think of that one?

  • Haha, are any of you commenters actually reading the comments above yours? 39 comments saying Exactly. The Same. Thing. Hey, don’t let me stop you though! 🙂

  • I’ve got no beef with people bringing laptops to public places to get some work done (or to do nothing). I was once a student, and I remember how nice it was to change things up from time to time while studying.

    But I can appreciate what SF is doing here. The free wifi makes sense if you need it to bring in customers. When it starts doing the opposite because it prevents more customers from being able to find seats, then it makes sense to reel it back a bit.

  • This whole thing sounds like a business waiting to happen. If only you could take a vacant building with at least three levels, put a small dining establishment on the first level and make it eating only. The next two levels would be unlimited wifi and coffee if you ordered a breakfast, lunch or dinner. I wonder if it would be profitable?

  • no dairy or sugar, and now no wi-fi? its the no-fun bakery!

  • Last time I checked Qualia was asking laptop users to go to their upstairs space, which is basically an empty office with no ambiance. You can kind of hear the music from downstairs… I totally get why such a small shop would want to restrict the number of tables covered in computers, but cutting people who want to work out of the picture can’t be the best solution.

  • As a dirty vegan hippie, I think Sticky Fingers probably made a smart business move here.

    As a dirty vegan hippie, I wish Sticky Fingers would be more creative with its baked goods and get away from all the fake meat and bland desserts.

    As a dirty vegan hippie, take my business advice for what its worth.

  • good to know I’m not the only one annoyed by people who camp out. Be considerate: limit your time, try not to take up too much space with other materials, put your bag on the floor or your chair. Invest in internet for your home and some quieting headphones.

    If I were unemployed/freelancing perhaps I’d have a different POV, but a cafe/bar FULL of (not just including) laptops sucks.

  • yes, restrict laptopping during peak hours. during weekdays, when you need the laptop crowd, designate a few no-laptops-allowed tables for customers who want to come in and just consume your product. those folks will want to come back, knowing they will be able to get a table the next time they come in.

  • Good, very happy to hear this. People with laptops think it’s their right to monopolize tables for hours on end and I’m happy to see that businesses are deciding to favor the majority of their customers who uses tables for minutes rather than people with laptops who use tables for hours.

    I couldn’t believe the time that there was no table to sit at in Tynan after I ordered my food because every table was full of laptops.

  • You know, there is more than one purpose for WiFi. Along with laptops, it also supports handheld devices, like Trio’s iPhones, etc. In DC, 3G service is deplorable, it might as well not exist during peak hours. The only way to use a smart phone at these times is to have a wireless connection. Instead of providing this, most places are situated in a way that the limited 3G doesn’t connect at all.

    I realize that the laptoppers are annoying eyesores (I say this without irony). If I go into a coffee house and see six or more laptops open, I generally go looking for another place to get a cuppa. But I see a day in maybe five years when laptops are quaint, dated accessories used by a few old-fashioned mugwumps stuck in their old ways. And in this future, we will need WiFi in our sandwich shops. I know, because I’m already there.

    • I’m don’t know what kind of phone and provider you have, but I just about never have a problem getting good 3G service in DC using AT&T and my iphone.

      Besides, there’s no difference between a person who uses a laptop and holds up a table for two hours and a person who uses a phone and holds up a table for two hours.

  • Also, PoP, you need to start getting emails from cooler/less-stereotypically-yuppie people. It is starting to be funny how many people email about how they are “shocked” about not being able to surf the internet in a vegan bakery or who have “concerns” about a lounge/nightclub coming to the lounge/nightlife district they moved to.

  • Although I commented earlier that I don’t think the author of this letter should be complaining about the amenities Sticky Fingers chooses to offer, I do have to object to the assumptions about all laptop users.

    I am currently sitting in Tynan coffee, obviously using wifi. I am taking up one chair and I have been here for about thirty minutes. I see two laptop users who are inconsiderately using adjacent seating for their bags and coats.

    I also see two mothers sitting in lounge chairs with their babies. Their coats and bags are thrown on a third chair. Their SUV-sized strollers are blocking a pathway as well as a curved bench and tables that could easily seat four.

    There are three men sitting separately, reading books. Each of them has a coat and/or bag sitting on an adjacent seat.

    There are two women sitting at a table chatting, and their coats and bags are taking up another 2-top and seats.

    In other words, inconsiderate patrons who take up space unnecessarily has nothing to do with the use of a laptop.

  • I think Ogden brings up a good point. I’ve been to sticky fingers, gotten a coffee and cinnamon roll and camped out reading a book. Should I and all my fellow readers be expelled? Should we only read at home or at libraries? I hardly see the fun in that.

  • @quincycylist: As a former CH res who’s now in Hawaii, our local coffee shop has a 2 hour wireless code you have to purchase something to get. It seems to work pretty well – though this may be because people here have a lot of other leisure options than laptopping at the coffee house. But it seems like a reasonable amount of time (maybe even just 1 hr would work) to turn over tables and provide a useful service for paying customers.

  • Ogden’s point about inconsiderate patrons is well taken. But it seems to me that it is easily addressed. For one thing, the store could post signs asking customers to be considerate of others and keep their clothes and other personal objects from occupying seats or table space that could be used by other patrons. Second, if someone’s personal items are spread across a seat you’d like to sit in, ask them (in a nice way) to move the items. Lots of people are clueless about the impact their actions have on others but willing to make accomodations once you clue them in. Instead of being annoyed at people who take up too much space, ask them to share some of their space.

    However, I suspect that the wifi limit has little to do with wifi users spreading out over multiple spaces. It’s about using a resource, which is not “free” to the owner, in an amount that is disproportional to the revenue being contributed to the store by the user. Sitting in a coffee shop all day nursing one latte while reading a book is different because while you are contributing a limited amount of revenue, you’re not also using a service that the shop has to pay for.

  • Remember “adult swim” at the pool when the kids had to get out for 10 minutes every hour? I think all coffee shops should have a 10 min. wi fi free period every hour and make people talk to each other.

  • agreed, Victoria. coffee shops have become soulless.

  • I have to say it was heartening to read the comments by other people who have been disappointed at the limited seating at Sticky Fingers being made worse by people camping out with their laptops.

    I thought I was alone.

    My props go out to Sticky Fingers for doing something about it.

  • It is nice to get out of the house and study/work in another setting. I enjoy going out to just hang and read a book.

    As other people mentioned, if you are doing that and you are noticing that other people are looking around for a seat it is time for you to leave.

  • You don’t know how happy I was to see that, even if it means I can’t use my iPod Touch to check online when I’m there (not that I did that very often). I live a short walk away, and I can’t tell you how many times my boyfriend and I went there for a meal on Saturdays and had to fight to get seating because of the laptop people. Sticky Fingers is just not large enough to support a whole passel of kids who buy a coffee or bottle of water, spread their stuff around so one person is commandeering a four-top table, and spend all freaking day there. It’s not an office, it’s a cafe, and when you’re done with your meal/drink (or within 30 minutes of it), YOU LEAVE.

    Free WiFi is an extra service restaurants offer, but if you abuse it, you lose it. Restaurants are in the business of selling food, and if people can’t get a seat there to enjoy their food, they won’t come, the restaurant loses money, and that’s one fewer indie place in town.

  • I was just there today (Sunday afternoon ) and left without buying anything because there were no seats. About 1/3 of the seats were being used by people who were busy using laptops.

    Hopefully they WiFi ban will expand to Sunday too.

  • I think Sticky Fingers might scare away some fringe customers with this move though they were having wifi issues long before this. Remember how they had to SSID their network for security reasons? Tynan, OTOH, is shooting themselves in the foot by shooting people down at the door in the most brusque fashion possible. I’d like to try their waffles but their disdain towards the laptopped rubbed me the wrong way and I’m the type who maybe does that thing a few times a month tops.

    Might the transient nature of DC play into this? I haven’t seen this sort of wifi backlash happen in other cities where it might be easier to make friends.

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