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Dec 6, 2011 09:00 AM

Where do chowhounds hang out with their electronics

The only place I know to enoy a cuppa and a snack or sandwich where I can to use a NookBook, cell phone, net book, or laptop is Panera locally (Winchester, VA) or Wegmans in Northern Virginia. I like being around food, well-lighted and friendly.

I'm not asking for recommendations in my area, but just asking what others are doing/where they are going now to enjoy themselves in this way.

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  1. ah, it'll be good to see some of the comments....I first thought this was a generational phenom, but then noticed lots of blue-hairs hypnotized by their iphones in public. Why go out when all you're gonna do is disengage, and stare at a computer screen? I can do that home. When out, I like to interact, people watch, and in general, be part of the scene, not wallpaper

    5 Replies
    1. re: BiscuitBoy

      When I go out of my home to shop - it's always a full-day event, I will seek a place to rest-up for more shopping. All is not quite as it appears in every case. One can check out email (which I don't do) or the weather (which I do), but not be totally disengaged. Actually I go out of my home to do things I cannot do in my home - shop!

      Surely there are people who are like me that want just like a moment's rest perhaps while enjoying a bit of quiet time with their spouse and don't want to engage with the scene-at-hand.


      Blue-haired Wallpaper


      1. re: Rella

        your spouse is electronic?!! :)


        1. re: Rella

          The thing with me is that I distracted quite a bit at home... There is always something to fix up and pick up. The television. The phone. So when I go out with my computer, it's dedicated computer writing/photo editing time.

          Most of the time i go to independent coffee shops. I also have an ice cream place nearby that has good coffee. When in Vegas, I tend do Boba shops, they often have Wifi. If really desperate and no McDs... then Dennys... their salads are passable and I like their hot wings...


          1. re: Dommy

            Thanks, Dommy. I got a new (refurbished) Nook Color last week and thought I might try it out at one of the handful of wifi places in Winchester, VA. I went to the old-standby thinking I'd get a sandwich and salad first. I vowed a year or so ago I'd never go there again; I was correct, I'll have to re-affirm my vow. My sandwich - the $1 more one -- had at most 1 ounce - more like 1/2 ounce chicken. I would've taken it back, but didn't want an attitude to deal with. I'm writing this because I'm 'ticked off," again with the restaurant, as well as because of my irritation, not even opening the nook color to see if I can become familiar with it.

            I stopped going to McDo's some time ago.

            Good coffee here in Winchester, VA - forget it! I'm going to have to go to Northern Virginia more often since the cows dried up at the farm.

            1. re: Rella

              Am I a glutten for punishment - I guess I am. When I went back, since time had passed and I was dispassionate about the non-chicken, I mentioned it. Practically bowed down with humble apologies and told that the sandwiches are pre-made in the morning and just probably didn't get enough chicken on that one that day.

              Spouse ate. I expressed attitude by not eating or wifi-ing.

              Even at that, all the tables were full.

      2. Panera is my first choice when travelling. McDonald's, now that they've made their internet free is a distant 2nd.

        1. in no particular order: Starbucks, Westfield mall (San Francisco Centre), Nordstrom Cafe Bistro,The Toaster Oven. Haven't tried McD's.

          1. Panera if we do this. As a blue hair myself, I am pretty connected at home. But until we got fast internet, we did take our laptop to Panera/St. Louis Bread. Now that we have had fast internet there isnt' as much need to do this. We did take our laptop to a Starbucks in Portland a couple of times last summer. Nice place.

            1. Like other have said, I do Panera if I want food, or local coffee places if snacks and/or just drinks are what I'm after. Thankfully, in Columbus, Ohio, we have lots of local (or small-ish chain) coffee places I like. Im not a Starbucks fan, but I often am given gift cards for there because people know I like coffee, so I sometimes visit there as well.

              Along those lines, I like hitting up the major chain bookstores, like Barnes and Noble. I find sitting in the Starbucks there to be lots of fun. I have two of my loves nearby (coffee and books) as well as free wi-fi, light/moderate snack food, and a mix of people interested in chatting and those who will take the hint when I'd rather be reading/surfing.

              I haven't really found a restaurant where I feel comdfortable sitting and surfing for a long time, outside of coffe shop type places. I'd be interested to hear other responses as well!

              6 Replies
              1. re: Ditdah

                I wouldn't mind going to B&N, but none around. I'll be in a 'city' in a couple of weeks, so I will look for a B&N, also looking at a few books to buy and download to my nook color.
                Thanks for your reply.

                1. re: Ditdah

                  I think you would feel OK in a Panera, if one is around you. I've seen people sitting for long periods with their electronics. As in, someone involved in doing something on their computer when I sit down, and that person still there when I leave. We took out new Ipad to B & H recently.

                  In a McD a year ago, I saw what appeared to long term web sessions going on in a rural McD. Whoever I saw seemed to be also nursing a coffee. I imagine that the McD in that area sees a lot of local web surfers, because I imagine there probably aren't many places with wi fi around.

                  1. re: Ditdah

                    Panera is a good place for a rest stop and catching up on what's the next thing to do on my shopping trip. I know that Panera can be good, but I'm not too fond of the Panera in my area. It's really a disappointment for me. I give it a try after a few months, always to be disappointed again. It's not like that at other Panera restaurants I've been to. Just something I can't figure out.

                    1. re: Rella

                      Probably the franchise holder isn't doing as good a job as the norm, I'd guess. We found that we could use the wi fi at Starbucks in Portland last year. If you have a nicer Starbucks, perhaps that is the answer. Does your town have a chain of local coffee shops? That might be a better alternative for hanging out with electronics.

                      1. re: sueatmo

                        We do have a Starbucks here, but guess what and why? it's at the edge of town of one of the less-traveled routes. Don't know what they were thinking. Our town is abt 26,000 and there are no 'coffee shops' other than Starbucks. I don't know even a chain of coffee shops in Northern Virginia with a large and affluent population. When we go thata way, we stop and have a rest stop at and after shopping at Wegmans.

                        I think though I'm going this next time to our Starbucks just to check out the potential rest-ability, and even though I'm a big espresso drinker (at home), I don't like their coffee, but I love their Tazo Passion tea.

                        1. re: Rella

                          While DH doesn't care that much for Starbucks coffee, when we roadtrip, Starbucks is his preferred rest stop -- reasonably clean restroom, not a lot of rug-rats ala McD's & free wi-fi to catch up on email.