Disconnecting and Connecting at Earth Café

Workplace Smackdown--or Make that a Snackdown! Part I

We freelance writers are always looking for the next best café table on which to lay our laptop, snag some wifi, drink excellent coffee and have that just right baked treat to power us through the next page. I thought I had found such a place in Earth Café, which opened on Broadway and 96th in 2014.

Earth Café has a pleasing aesthetic. Bleached wood communal tables, distressed aqua and yellow metal stools, white walls and light pouring in the ample windows all make me feel I’m on a sunny Greek isle. Plus they have delicious croissant “Sammies” ($7.95 - $8.50), my favorite of which is the light and piquant smoked salmon one with cream cheese, capers, lettuce and lemon ($8.50). The owner and waitstaff, whom I think are Eastern European, are all charming and down to Earth.

But lately I’m feeling a little down on “Earth." The pastries have always been a motley crew, never fresh and too many spiked with coconut. The prices of the aforementioned Sammies went up from a reasonable $5.95 to almost $9.00, without any increase in size or even a little sprinkle of baby arugula on the side. But it's the wifi that is bringing me to the breaking point. Wifi was spotty since Earth opened, and then I came down to work on a Saturday and suddenly there was no wifi at all—not an outage but a “no wifi weekend” policy. (Yet it’s one I understand as more and more cafes are seeing freelancers park their laptops and their butts there for the entire day. I get it.)

Then Earth went from unlimited Wifi on weekdays to a piddly  ½ hour of TWC wifi, with an alternative to pay for a $2.95 “access pass.” After my wifi crapped out in the middle of Googling something important for an assignment, I asked the waitress if purchasing something could buy me another half hour, but no. I left and bought something at a Starbucks. Argh! I hate to choose Starbucks over Earth Café.  And now, since the end of 2016,  Earth doesn't pick up a signal at all (Writer to Earth? Earth to Writer?). The sweet mustachioed owner seemed defeated when I asked him about it. I felt a bit of gorge rising and was about to press my case. But this was in the post-inaugural frenzy of obsessively checking the latest egregious appointments and tweets of our new president. I decided maybe it was time to close my laptop, to put away my phone. Aaah. I will always choose convivial, airy Earth Café for real and not virtual connections—interviewing sources, meeting my friend Evelyn for our “knit and chat” sessions, or just having some time to myself with a good book or my journal and a glass of wine.

Earth Café
2578 Broadway (@ 97th St.)