Step into a Starbucks or a Caffe Nero and chances are, you’ll see a lot of people using the shop’s Wi-Fi to check their social media feeds on their phone, or perhaps there’s one or two people who are doing a bit of work using their laptop.
Such a scene has become the norm in major coffee houses all over the world, but one café in Chicago’s Lincoln Park is encouraging conversation, play, and bonding among its customers by shunning Wi-Fi altogether. While rows of workers glued to their laptop screens can make cafes feel like an open office, Kibbitznest has deliberately chosen to forego technology to “raise awareness about the imbalance between the use of electronic technology and face-to-face communication.
Kibbitznest was opened by Annie Krostiner and her husband Lewis, and speaking with the BBC, Krostiner said that they wanted to create a space wherein customers can have a break from technology. The media outlet reports that customers often tell Krostiner that they are “so happy” that they opened the coffee house, as its unique concept encourages real interaction.
The café aims to be a “third place” for people after home and work, as the Krostiners believe that third places are “crucial for harmony in a civil society, democracy, and for civic engagement.”
Kibbitznest has gotten glowing reviews on Yelp, and customers are raving about the new and used books for sale—which can also be read while on the premises. There are old-school typewriters which can be used by anyone, as well as board games that can be enjoyed by families or friends who are looking to have a new way to bond over coffee, tea, wine, ice cream, and snacks.
“This place is aspirational and I’m so glad it exists,” said one customer. Another Yelp reviewer called Kibbitznest a “slice of nerd heaven,” and one said that the café is simply perfect.
“Keep your phone in your pocket and tell a story, ask a question, and get to know the people you are with,” said the customer.
Kibbitznest is located at 2212 Clybourn Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
For more, check out Jobs & Hire’s report on the “Golden Girls”-themed café in New York City.