“Interested to hear what the PoP community has to say about A Baked Joint banning “study materials”

Baked joint
inside 440 K Street, NW courtesy A Baked Joint

Following in Filter’s footsteps and then some…

“Dear PoPville,

Interested to hear what the PoP community has to say about A Baked Joint banning “study materials.”

In the City Paper article, they compare themselves to Le Diplomate… which is a little much. For one, there are no servers, and not a particularly long wait for a table outside of peak weekend brunch hours (when it’s very noisy, and I imagine few people are studying anyway). There’s already no wifi, so I rarely see people “glued to screens.” (I live nearby and go about 3-5 times per week at various times of the day).

In general, I’ve found the baristas really unfriendly, and the coffee shop (sorry, “restaurant that serves kick-ass coffee”) pretty unwelcoming in general – they don’t even have their name anywhere on the outside of the building! I like the food, but I’m a grad student and work full time, and I won’t be drinking coffee in a place where the only thing I’m allowed to do is chat. Also, as a social work grad student, I have to add that presuming that everyone has leisure time when they can buy $5 coffee and not get any work done is pretty silly.”

90 Comment

  • Anonomnom

    Strikes me as pretty obnoxious. If,a s they say in the article, they are concerned with one person taking up two tables with books and highlighters (Sounds like a law student to me!) just have a manager say something when that situation arises. A general policy against it seems downright snobbish though.
    .
    Also LOL at comparing themselves to Le Diplomat.

    • If you wait till the situation arises, not only do you create a really lousy task for your manager to have to do, you risk a patron not taking the news well, which could cause a scene and a really unpleasant atmosphere for all the other customers. Best way to deal with a problem is to prevent it.

  • I think it’s great. Not all coffeeshops need to be like this, but it’s pretty annoying when I go out to coffee with a friend and we get death-glares for daring to have a conversation/laugh while people are trying to work.

    Plus when people are working they’ll sometimes camp out at a table and hold it for hours and hours, which even getting beyond the “how is this a business model” problems is annoying when I just want to sit for 15 minutes and enjoy my coffee.

    If you want a quiet space with good spaces to work in and free wi-fi go to a library. Or to another coffeeshop that allows you to work. Having a few coffeeshops that actually serve the same purpose as bars in terms of social gatherings I think is a great idea, and don’t blame the folks who own this place for trying to cultivate that kind of a space.

    • +1
      while i get that some may find it extreme to make it a policy that is most likely the easiest way to do it
      plus they said you can still sit and read… just cand pull out a comp or school work

    • I agree completely. There are plenty of places to work or study. If A Baked Joint wants a different atmosphere, that is their choice to make.

    • Agreed. People camping out at coffee shops and cafes with books and a laptop really need to visit a library. I frequently walk out of places if there isn’t a place for me to sit and enjoy my coffee or food.

      • My understanding is that you have to reserve study spaces in the public libraries here – you can not just saunter in and use a table or study nook and that many of the libraries discourage adults utilizing the tables and study areas.

        • You have to reserve private study rooms but you are certainly welcome and encouraged to use the common tables and armchairs as study spaces. As a grad student I spent a lot of time in the Petworth library and was never discouraged from being there, nor did I see anyone else being discouraged from using the public spaces.

          • Interesting – I had looked at going to Tenleytown to do some studying one day and got the feeling from people online that the library took a fairly hostile attitude towards people using it as a place to study unless they were grade school aged.

          • Have you tried studying at DC libraries? Or use their “study rooms”?? The ones at Shaw are awful, noisy, and might as well be as open to the rest of the noisy library. Schoolkids run the place and don’t remain quiet. And if someone is talking in the room next to you, you can hear every single word.

    • +1000 I agree

  • I think it’s reasonable, although maybe better dealt with on an individual basis. People who plop down and order a single coffee while occupying an entire table with their study materials are obnoxious.

  • As long as the keep churning out O.M.G. bars they can do no wrong in my book.

  • I’m pleased. One less place for obnoxious Georgetown law students to take over.

    • Agreed! Try going to Compass Coffee on the weekend, space is very hard to come by.

    • DC is home to Catholic University, American University, GW, UDC, Trinity, Gallaudet University, Howard University, and Georgetown University – not to mention students who live in DC but study at George Mason University and University of Maryland.

      Hopefully you’ll soon understand you’ve chosen to live in a city where people also come to learn.

  • I’m all for it; more power to them for wanting to set the tone for *their* place of business. No different than a dress code. It’s not like they’re discriminating, just saying, hey take it to the library. I am frankly sick of phones, computers every freaking where. I sit in front of a computer all dang day (like, right now); at some point I want some challenging human interaction; awkward silences, tense moments, face-to-face arguments, flirtatious touches… that stuff that makes life, life.

  • I could maybe understand a policy on weekends if it is indeed busy with breakfast / seated traffic. But an overall policy, especially one that is only in place because they want a certain type of interaction to take place, is over-reaching and fairly short-sighted. I know many people who either prefer working in a coffee shop / hotel lounge or have jobs where they are consistently moving around (product reps doing office visits) and need a place to touch-down for an hour here or there. If you are operating a coffee shop (I’m sorry, in my book to quality as a restaurant you need table service) in a business district, you have to anticipate that a large portion of your clientele are office workers either looking for a place to escape the office or visitors to said offices.

    • But coffee shops are not in the business of providing pseudo office space for lonely telecommuters. There’s a company called Regis that will rent you office space by the hour if you need to hold a meeting. Go there. The coffee shop is in business to sell coffee and they lose a lot of business when people come in, can’t find a table, then leave.

      • You are missing the point – I’m not talking about a place to conduct a meeting. I’m talking about either people who want to step away from the office and to work (away from coworkers… something I wish I could do often) OR people who are on the road (around town) for their job and need to place to drop into for an hour or two between meetings or presentations to catch up on email, etc. – Both of which are different than someone camping out and studying for hours on end, but would inevitability fall within the same general category.

        • While I feel for people who want to work outside of the office, I feel more for people who want to sit and have a coffee. I think this shop knows that they lose a lot of customers to the few who come camp out for hours. If you want to work away from coworkers, there’s a starbucks around the corner from anywhere you are located. Don’t take up valuable space at an awesome coffee shop.

          • Would the patron at Starbucks also not like to sit and enjoy their coffee? Just pointing out the logic of your argument is that because the coffee here is better the space is more valuable and therefore should be restricted to certain people.

          • The patron at starbucks might want to sit and enjoy their coffee, but they can’t find any seating, because there are always people camped out, because that is their policy. Which is why this coffee place set their policy to no camping out. The argument is – the owners don’t want people camping out because they lose business and it isn’t the atmosphere they want. That isn’t restricting the space to “certain people”. it is restricting the space to people with certain intentions. Any person who wants to come in and drink coffee is welcome, just don’t take up a table with all your work bullsh*t.

    • They actually state in the original article that they will most likely only enforce on the weekends when it gets really crowded. I doubt they’d toss someone or even say anything to someone on a Tuesday morning when the place is half empty. But it genuinely is frustrating when you go there on the weekends for a relaxing coffee and breakfast, only to find most of the tables completely taken over by students or people hunched behind computer screens. It’s offputting and definitely undercuts the intended vibe of a Baked Joint as a casual meeting place.

    • the city paper article i read said this was only being implemented on the weekends. i have also been there on tuesday and friday pizza nights and they have a sign on the tables saying for dining only. i am very ok with this policy. why would people feel so self entitled to take up 2 tables to study on a busy saturday and sunday anyway? it is these people who ruin it for everyone!

    • you have ZERO business acumen. if you want office space, rent some. if your a grad student use the library at your school. ORRRRRRR pay $50 each hour you are costing the business lost profits (which don’t just magically happen).

  • canadianexile

    Totally fine with it. It is their business. If I want to get coffee there, I will and it’ll be more likely there is a seat. And if I want to use my laptop in a coffee shop, I’ll go somewhere else.

    [And while I may be in the minority, I would like it if more coffee shops did this on weekends!]

  • I’m all for it! Grab some joe, sit, chat and carry on. There are plenty of places where you can camp with your laptop and notebooks for hours on end. Also, love people getting worked up over something that’s two days a week.

  • Ashy Oldlady

    It’s a coffee shop, not study hall. I’m not sure when people started thinking they were entitled to use coffee shops as their personal office space. And if you’re going to some fancy-ass law school, you should be able to afford your own Internet connection anyway.

  • So wait, do study materials include books? Are people not allowed to read books at coffee shops nowadays? (Also, how are they going to enforce this if someone buys coffee? Kick out the customer?)

    • Pretty easy to tell the difference between someone reading a book and someone who is camped out studying.

      • But how is one better than the other? You’re still taking up the same amount of space. There is nothing guaranteeing the leisurely reader will be done before the person reading for purpose. I’m not against the rule, but I think it should be enforced case by case rather than a blanket statement. If someone has purchased a meal they should be given at least 30-45 minutes at their table to do whatever they want, particularly if it’s not crowded

        • it’s probably nice for staff to have a policy to refer to. they can, and likely will, still take it case by case, but a posted policy 1) gives staff something to point to when the issue comes up and 2) discourages people from doing it in the first place, limiting the number of such interactions.

    • The article addresses the book issue:
      “As for “study materials,” Velazquez says she’s seen people come in with four or five big textbooks, notebooks, and highlighters then take up two tables. That’s the type of situation the establishment would like to avoid—not someone reading a book.’

      • Ah, I read the article but I guess I skimmed right over that. Good catch. (I’ve routinely read for school at coffee shops and brought two books with me, but never textbooks and I never take up more than one seat. If they’re trying to catch the sprawlers that makes sense.)

    • They state in the City Paper that the policy does not apply to someone who is just reading a book, and that the real issue is the amount of space taken up by computers and study materials. They are just trying to keep their business welcoming for their target customer – a person who is looking for a chill place to hang with friends or by yourself while enjoying some coffee and/or some tasty food.

  • I’m just glad that after all this time people are still talking about Filter’s no wifi policy. 🙂

    As for A Baked Joint’s policy…noticed it the other day and smiled to my wife as I read the sign on the door. I honestly don’t care if people use their computers there as long as they are willing to share the table if it’s super crowded. As for the policy…I confess that it’s probably not what I would do in their shoes, but I respect the rationale behind the policy and I fully intend to keep frequenting their establishment.

  • Love it and would like to see other places follow suit.

  • This doesn’t bother me, it actually might drive me there.

    I often stop in for a cup of coffee at a place like Compass and there is literally nowhere to sit. I just want to sit for 15-20 minutes and drink my coffee. Because I’m a cyclist I can’t really take it with me, I do actually need to sit down.

    It just drives me crazy when I walk into a coffee shop and everyone is sitting with an empty cup and a laptop and there is nowhere to sit. I want a spot for a short amount of time to drink the coffee I just bought.

  • I still can’t get over the fact that I can’t tip on a credit card bill here when I order to-go. What century is this? As mentioned by others the service is rarely anything to write home about, but I come so often and I’ve worked in the industry so I feel morally obligated to leave at least 10%. This place forces me to carry cash in order to do so. That just seems so backwards to me. And yes, I order a lot of to-go because I work around the corner, quick tasty lunch options are limited and as the OP mentions, not everyone has the leisure time to sit and eat without getting some work done.

    • well if you’re worked in the industry you gotta carry that cash! so many nuances in service industry that the 9-5 will never understand.

    • You can tip on the card – you just have to ask the cashier to swivel the iPad around so you can enter it, or just lean over and do it yourself.

  • I love it! The past couple of weeks I’ve been there and couldn’t find a place to sit because people have been spread out with laptops, papers and other items. As someone who lives in the neighborhood and visits ABJ daily, I think this is a great move. There are plenty of neighborhood places if you want to spend 3 hours with a laptop and a coffee.

  • Regardless of their so-called ban, the employees need a reality check: get off your high horse! You’re selling me overpriced bread so you can pay for your sweet tats, not solving world hunger…

  • Working in a coffee shop is so over-rated. I don’t understand how anyone gets anything done, aside from sending quick emails. I’d never be able to actually study and read/comprehend/retain dense material, such as case law or textbooks. Yeesh.

  • Better situation is turning off wifi and not allowing it on weekends when you’re most busy (I believe Busboys turns off wifi on weekends and maybe also Dolcezza). Area coffee shops are so small, I never got a table at the ones I liked. And La Colombe has the WORST “stools” or whatever they are.
    There are plenty of coworkering spaces to work at. But it’s also hard to know who is “studying”. Is reading a book at a table studying?

    • Law books are very distinct. If you were just reading the one book, it would seem to be ok though.

  • HaileUnlikely

    Never been there, but in general, I do not have a problem with an eating establishment taking measures to discourage people from buying a small coffee and then proceeding to occupy a table for 4+ hours.

  • I’m having an even harder time being outraged about this than the woman who was approached at the library about breastfeeding.

  • I’m apparently in the minority here, but I find this obnoxious. Who are they to tell people, who are paying them good money, what to do with their spare time–especially for an activity such as studying which does not disturb other people?

    If the issue is studiers taking up table space, wouldn’t a sign that says “Please only use a table that fits the size of your party so that we can accommodate our guests” be more appropriate?

    • Who are they? The owners.

    • In my experience (10+ years in coffee) signs are there to be ignored. At one place I worked we tried to ease into a no wifi policy by posting signs on the tables saying “please be considerate and let others sit too” or something to that effect and more often than not we found them on the floor at the end of the day. If you try to kick someone out the “I paid you good money and I’ll sit as long as I need” often comes out first. Just last week we were told by an apparently angry customer at my current job, and this is a direct quote, “you really need to get better internet. I know this is a coffee shop but you should really focus more on the quality of your internet because I’m having trouble using it.” Then she left in a huff. It comes with the territory but there is definitely some outsised entitlement when it comes to use of space in a place where you spent all of $5

    • Their argument is that it DOES disturb other customers, and from my experience, this is true. When you go to ABJ on the weekend, it’s pretty much impossible to find a place to sit with a friend to drink your coffee or eat your food due to the number of people taking over tables with stacks of books and laptops. And these folks tend to not be very friendly or amenable to making space, because they are there for very different reasons. ABJ isn’t saying someone shouldn’t study. They are saying that their establishment isn’t the best place for a serious study or work session, and that they cater to people who are their to socialize and relax.

  • I consider most PoPvillers to be smart and imagine many to be well-educated. Has everyone forgotten what it was like to be in post-grad school (or, for the sake of inclusion, undergrad)? The only thing that got me through the grueling hours spent studying and writing my thesis was being able to change my place of study every now and then – moving between the library, my apt, and various coffee shops.
    .
    Of course, a place of business is allowed to dictate what happens between its walls within reason, and I don’t think their decision is unreasonable (though they may have misguided perceptions of the type of business (i.e., restaurant vs. coffee shop vs. cafe) they run).

    • Very much agree with this… businesses of course have the right to dictate what happens within their walls, but it seems like more businesses could successfully figure out a way to develop a fan base of people who want a spot to do some work…

  • Totally their call, and I generally like the idea. There will always be a hostile “you can’t tell me what to do!” reaction from people who think they’re entitled to do whatever they want in a private commercial establishment. They can go elsewhere.

  • Re: Unfriendly baristas – John is one of the most humble, cordial, and insightful people, let along baristas, I’ve ever met. ( He’s the guy with the beard.) “As economists like to say, the plural of “anecdote” is not “data.”

  • I’m fine with this policy – It’s their location and their business. You are not obligated to buy coffee from this place. While I get the appeal of sitting in a coffee shop while studying or working, they’re not required to cater to people who don’t offer a lot of turnover. The best way for you (and others who agree) to show your dislike of the policy is to not do business there.

  • I don’t care either way but if someone doesn’t the like policy why not go somewhere else? There are plenty of coffee shops to choose from.

  • I support this. There’s a Sbux on virtually every corner downtown. Go there if you want to camp out for a while – that’s what I do.

  • I like this idea. As a post-grad student I find plenty of places to go and study with my laptop, specifically ones where I can just funnel coffee rather than pay to enjoy. A Baked Joint has always been a place I enjoy going with friends to chat, their open layout makes that much more amenable. Id be interested to see if this launches around town. I know people would love to see Compass adopt a similar policy on the weekends specifically. Weekdays don’t matter so much, but when you have folks dropping in to grab a coffee and chat on the weekends, you’re losing business having people sitting around and studying all day.

  • I like the original B&W but find this place lacking in focus. There are more composed food options than B&W but no table service. Come to think of it, there aren’t really many tables suitable for eating a meal unless you like your food on your lap or on a side table. It’s loud enough that I can’t imagine anyone studying productively, at least on weekends. The food and coffee are both good and the space is stylish. They can set whatever policies they want. It’s not a study hall.

  • justinbc

    I’m not really interested in their justification, but rather the fact they’re a private business and can ban whatever they please as long as it’s not violating any laws. “Students” are not a protected class in terms of discrimination laws, at least none that I’m aware of.

    • Actually, the DC Human Rights Act make it an unlawful practice to discriminate against an individual based on “matriculation.” Not saying that this would be a discriminatory practice – they’re not saying students aren’t permitted, just that no one can study, but there’s some ridiculous stuff in the DC code.

  • I went the first time last Tuesday and it will be my last. The person working the entrance/cashier had this cold attitude about her – no smile at all (surprising as that is the first person a customer interacts with). The barista was friendly.

  • I support this policy 100%.
    .
    It also reminds me of a classic PoPville post, featuring one of the more clueless/obnoxious questions I’ve seen: “This is the question I want to pose to your readers: is a bar a place where people can gather regardless of whether they are “customers” or is there an expectation that they will buy something when they enter the door?”
    http://www.popville.com/2011/12/friday-question-of-the-day-debating-the-roles-and-expectations-of-bars-in-our-neighborhoods/

  • That One Guy

    As an aside: The one fault I find is the stance that this is a restaurant in the co-owner’s view. It’s positioned somewhat elevated from a coffee shop but no where near serving a full blown restaurant (unless they changed their offering in the last two months since I was last there).
    .
    With regard to the topic of banning squatters, it’s their establishment so they get to lay down the rules.

  • This really saddens me, as I work here about once every week or every other week… always ordering a coffee, then food later (I feel bad going to places of business and not purchasing goods). I work from home and live in a small one bedroom apartment (no room for an office- and wasn’t originally working from home until my company downsized) sometimes I just need to get OUT. In the times I am there I have never witnessed anyone not being able to find a seat because of people working or studying so I find this to be a bit obnoxious.

    Anyone know of other coffee shops relatively close by that allow people to work?

    • I believe they’ve said they mostly plan to enforce it on evenings and weekends. You might be ok during the week

      • I actually just walked by with my dog and there is a typed up paper taped on the door… but I had my dog so I didn’t want to get too close. They have recently changed their pet policy and I was rudely made aware of it a few weeks back.

    • I live in NoMA and this was one of the places I enjoyed going from time to time since it was walkable. I go to places like this specifically to work on my own projects somewhere other than my apartment – so I’ll usually be set up with my laptop and have my headphones on, all while enjoying lots of coffee and ordering an occasional food item. I also make it a point to tip as well as possible if I’m going to take up space for a while and get in the zone (which, maddeningly, is easy for me to do only in a crowded, busy place).

      I tend to do a lot of my work at Tryst and, while the place isn’t perfect, I do enjoy their coffee and their food. Their staff is far more friendly, they come to the table to check on me, and in many, many visits (including some crazy coding sessions that ran very late into the evening) they’ve never – not once – given me a hassle about being there. On a couple of occasions, when it’s really busy, they’ve even pointed out people who appeared to be finishing up so I could get a seat.

      As a result, I’ll happily spend more money at Tryst. I’ll probably not be back to ABJ unless I just happen to be nearby.

  • As a small business owner I can sympathize with their plight. While I am loathe to turn away anyone who is offering to give me money, some customers either cause you to lose money or are just too much of a pain to be worth serving. I’m sure the decision to ban study materials wasn’t made lightly but was needed for the health of the business or the sanity of the management.

  • I patronize this place specifically because they don’t tolerate wi-fi hoboes. Oh, and their breads are over-the-top delicious. Nothing is more of a turn-off than kids tacitly pleading “Please stop and talk to me” as they “write” in a busy, noisy coffee shop where some folks might want to sit and have a cup of coffee.

  • I like a good cup of coffee and I love to sit and read while I enjoy it. I definitely applaud this and other coffee shops’ decisions to NOT have WIFI, because I think it discourages camping out at the tables. I don’t particularly agree with a policy decision to “ban” computers and studying, but whatever; they can do whatever they want. The bigger point for me is the unfriendliness of the counter people (the baristas have been nice) that the OP and a few others have pointed out. I live near this place and was excited about their opening, but after receiving consistently unwelcoming “attitude-y” service at the counter, I now walk a few extra blocks to a place where I get great coffee, MUCH friendlier service, always a place to sit (sometimes at a shared table), and see people engaged in reading, conversing, and working on their computers.

  • Let’s talk about the fact that they don’t sell any cupcakes or baked goods they have at their Georgetown location!! Dumbest thing ever

  • Wow, never heard of this place but won’t be visiting. It sounds like they’re trying to be something they’re clearly not. Why reject your customers? Accept the coffee-shop crowd, which includes people teleworking or studying (while also eating/drinking your merchandise). I’m a full time employee and part-time grad student, too. We rely on welcoming coffee shops on weekends (and give them lots of business!!!)

  • Hi everyone. You chose to live in DC, where thousands of people also come to study their undergrad, graduate, law, and PHDs. You are neighbors with American University, Catholic University, Gallaudet University, George Washington University, Georgetown University, Howard University, Trinity University, and UDC. Of all things to be outraged about, finding a place to sit with your expensive “le diplomat” coffee isn’t worth crossing your arms over.

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