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BUSINESS

3 MIN

New York Restaurants Are Moonlighting as Co-working Spaces

By night, they're restaurants. By day, Spacious turns them into places where you can work, hold meetings and drink coffee (or other adult beverages)

Many of us walk past restaurants that are closed during the day and think nothing of it.

Preston Pesek, who had both hospitality and real estate experience, saw an inefficient use of commercial space – and an opportunity too good to pass up.

 That’s how he came up with Spacious. Launched in June 2016, the service turns New York restaurants that are closed during the day into co-working spaces with all the usual amenities – plus happy hours, on certain days.

“It is a simple match of supply and demand, capturing this huge new wave of the economy, and sea change of how people are working, and matching it to a supply that’s available, [namely] dinner-only restaurants” says Pesek, the company’s co-founder and CEO.

“I have a commercial real estate background so I understood the opportunity through the lense of looking at space that’s being leased 24/7. Rent is being paid all the time but the space is only being used 5 p.m. to 12 [midnight]. So in that short amount of time [the restaurant] has to make all the money to cover the fixed costs.” 

At the same time, Pesek says, “Street-level visibility is some of the most valuable real estate in the city.” Before Spacious, restaurants that stay closed during the day couldn’t maximize that advantage.

For the customer, Pesek explains that renting the unused space of dinner-only restaurants keeps his costs lower than the competitors, and Spacious passes these savings along in the form of lower-than-usual membership fees.

What’s on the menu

Pesek believes curating the network of restaurants will be key to the overall success of Spacious. The team looks for locations that are close to public transportation and good lunch options, have at least 100 seats, and that are open and well designed with plenty of natural light.

The restaurants involved – right now there are five of them – are hip-looking spots: attractive, with bright and airy open spaces. Four are located in Manhattan below 23rd Street. (The fifth, MP Taverna, is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.) With more locations set to open soon, Spacious says it currently has more inbound inquiries from interested restaurants than it can process.

Courtesy Spacious

MP Taverna in Williamsburg, one of five current Spacious locations

“[Partnering with] local well-known people in the industry, and good reputations in the community, lets people know the quality of the operation” Pesek says.

Much like other co-working spaces, all of the Spacious outposts feature on-site staff members, free coffee and tea, super-fast WiFi and plenty of electrical outlets.

Seats are plentiful and spread out for privacy, but of course don’t have a cubicle feel, since they are actually restaurant tables and booths. Private dining rooms become rentable private conference rooms.

Beyond the basic benefits, there’s a calendar of social events that includes 3 p.m. happy hours –  to help foster a sense of community among those who would otherwise be at home in pyjamas eating bowls of cereal for lunch.

How to make a reservation 

A Spacious membership runs $95 per month. This includes access to any and all locations between 9 and 5 Monday through Friday. Pesek argues the under-$100 membership is low enough to be worth it for those looking for space just one or two days a week, and comes with the added benefit of supporting the local restaurant industry.

Especially relevant for travellers is the $29 day rate for non-members. (A similar day rate with some of the other companies can cost up to $50, plus a prerequisite $40-per-month membership.)

None of the options requires any long-term commitment, and Spacious offers a free trial week.

Whichever option you go with, and whether you’re a resident or traveller, Pesek points out the benefits of having a few nice rest areas scattered around the city. A Spacious space, he says, “acts as a nice home base if you’re travelling around the city, offering a few different neighbourhoods to always have a place to duck into, use a nice restroom … things you take for granted otherwise.”

Courtesy Spacious

Perfect for anyone who has ever joked: 'Step into my office' when entering a pub

Looking ahead 

With around 250 subscribed memberships, Spacious is building primarily through word of mouth. As the pace of growth accelerates, Pesek and his partners are already thinking about how to address the demand for after-hours and weekend working spaces, perhaps by looking beyond restaurant partnerships.

Spacious has plans to expand to other cities, meanwhile, with Los Angeles, San Francisco and London on the agenda for this year. This should make a membership even more valuable for entrepreneurs and freelancers who travel frequently.

Visit www.spacious.com to learn more and to sign up for a free trial week. 

This article was first published on March 24, 2017.

Published Monday, June 19th 2017

Header image credit: Courtesy Spacious

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