7 Comment

  • Pros:
    I really like the people that work there.
    Supposedly the best paninis in town. Possibly true.
    Much better environment after remodeling.
    Excellent Chai.
    NPR background music.

    Not really the most comfortable place to study/work. Terrible chairs.
    Panini = $11!
    NPR background music.

  • Great place.

    But please, please, please, let’s not kill this place with a bunch of free-loading “studiers” who buy a single cup of coffee and then proceed to sit for hours.

    Using coffee shops for extended study is economically infeasible: either the coffee shops go broke because cheapskates are squatting their tables, or the students go broke because they’re considerately spending $5+ per hour buying drinks/food.

    So hey, if you’re Mr. Rockefeller and you can afford to basically rent a desk for $5/$10 per hour, knock yourself out. But if you’re not, please have your cup of coffee, stay for a bit, and move on to one of our fine libraries, parks, or other free public spaces.

  • West Kansas:
    I agree in theory (and potentially in practice when it comes to packed “hip” places like Tryst or Open City) but I live a block away from Steam Cafe and have NEVER seen all of the tables inside full.

    I don’t think the owners would argue that squatters purchasing a cup of coffee (or more) per hour would be nice, but if the alternative is a mostly empty cafe, I would imagine they prefer the squatters. Eventually those people WILL get hungry and order some (overpriced) food.

    Plus, it’s a cafe, not a restaurant. Agree, not profitable for extended study, but I’m sorry – parks don’t have free wifi, and the last time I was in the MLK library studying, a man standing in the rows of bookshelves pulled it out and started jerking off. As a grad student incapable of accomplishing much in my home or the university library, coffee places are all I have.

    Some devise their own ways of not losing all their money to squatters: like Tryst and Love Cafe, which turn their internet off during “peak” hours (like Saturday afternoons) to encourage turnover.

    Some try to draw in crowds that aren’t cheapo grad students: like Love Cafe with its cupcakes or SoHo/Tryst/Busboys with their liquor licenses and lectures/game nights/live music, or like Tryst and Open City with their decent food.

    Anyway, all I’m saying is, Steam Cafe COULD easily make some changes to discourage the squatters, and are likely aware of what others are doing, but I’m not sure they want to or that it’s in their best interest.

    And to answer PoP’s question: their pasta is not at all special, crepes are good, breakfast is decent, and I’ve heard great things about their pizza. The Steam Cafe latte is pretty tasty, too.

    • The real problem is the amount of space the cyber-squatters occupy. A four-top with one person sitting in a chair and the other three chairs filled with that person’s computer bag, coat, books, etc. I’m surprised these coffee houses turn a profit. Must be plenty of to-go customers I guess.

      • I guess that’s an issue if the chairs are needed for something else, or if one person taking up a four-top instead of a two-top somehow prevented a group of 3 or 4 from patronizing the cafe, but again – I’ve never seen Steam too packed to seat anyone.

        By the way, I’m definitely not defending the squatters who never order anything (or worse – bring their own food) – even as a poor grad student, I find myself spending at least $15-20, usually more, for 3-4 hours of study, which doesn’t seem unreasonable. And extra tipping for wait service even on small bills – crucial. I understand that not everyone behaves that way, unfortunately. My defense is more on the amount of time people hang out, when there’s nothing else going on in the place. I think as long as you’re not preventing business somehow and over-working staff in anyway, time shouldn’t be a big deal.

  • I’ve been a sunday regular there for years. I actually started going there about a year before I moved a block away on 18th… (coincidence? yeah actually). I’ve had the Chicken Scallopini and grapefruit juice so many times the owners don’t even ask me my order anymore. I walk in, sit down with my laptop, and the food and drink get served instantly.

    I may have had other things over the years… but the scallopini was so good the first time (and every time since…) I can’t imagine ordering anything else.

    Oh and btw the pastries are freshly made.

  • I come here fairly frequently for breakfast or lunch since I work in the area. I have always had great experiences… the owners are friendly and they remembered me after two times 🙂 The coffee drinks are great and so are the paninis and crepes. The pastas are not their best dishes but that’s fine – the awesome paninis more than make up for the mediocre pasta.

    I love Steam Cafe 🙂

Comments are closed.