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23 November 2016

A novel idea initially developed in Moscow back in 2011 is now here also in London, Manchester and Liverpool. Branches of the cafe which go by the name of Ziferblat and charges customers in a totally unique way are opening up all over Europe and the UK is home to 3 of those.

Normally, you enter a cafe, find a place to sit and then put in your order for drink and cakes or sandwiches, as you wish. Once you are done you ask for the bill and as expected pay for the items you consumed. Not at Ziferblat! On entering a Ziferblat cafe you are given a clock which notes the time of your entry. You help yourself to the large assortment of drinks and food openly on display with no record of what's being consumed taken for here at this groundbreaking cafe you are not charged for what you eat but rather for how long you spend in the cafe! At the time of writing prices were set to 6 pence per minute.

The spaces are set up to be very homely and have a strong community feel behind them. Bring your own vinyl records and spin some tunes on the turntables, or even volunteer to help out at the cafe, it's that sort of place. You are expected to clear up after yourself and either wash your dishes or at the least insert the dirty dishes in to dishwashers provided. Treat it like your own place, an extension of your own home but with super fast broadband, great freshly made food on offer and the lively buzz of a busy cafe. This model of shared responsibility lowers operational overheads and allows the cafe to operate profitably even at such competitive prices. After all, imagine a normal visit to a cafe, you may well spend an hour or so in there, possibly have a couple of coffees, maybe a sandwich and a slice of cake all of which would set you back well over the 3.60 you would end up paying for the same at a Ziferblat cafe. Therefore, by cutting down on operational costs by getting customers to "chip in" not only are they able to offer very competitve prices for their space and food and drink on offer but also help build up that sense of sharing and of community and purpose.

It will be interesting to see if the business model survives or even thrives in the next few years but with a growing trend for community led projects where the users are also contributors in ways other than just cash, where there is a sense of sharing, of community and of giving, we can't see why it shouldn't do very well.

Click here to find a Ziferblat cafe location near you.

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