10 Friday 10th January 2014
The pioneering pricing scheme at Ziferblat (“everything is free, except the time you spend there”) has become very popular in Russia, where nine outlets have opened in the last two years. Now it has opened a branch in Shoreditch.
Customers take an alarm clock upon arrival, make a note the time, and hold onto it until they leave. A flat price of three pence per minute means that an hour-long stay will only cost you £1.80, no matter how much tea you drink and biscuits you slam into your fat face. There is no minimum time, either, meaning a speedily drunk coffee can be had for almost no money at all.
Patrons serve themselves using a coffee machine and kettles. Other “complimentary” snacks, including fruit and vegetables, can be prepared in the kitchen – punters can even choose to wash their own dishes.
Ivan Mitin, the owner of Ziferblat – meaning “clock face” in Russian – told the Guardian that they were was already drawing a crowd of regulars. “Londoners are more prepared for such a concept; they understand the idea instantly,” he said. “It's funny to see people queueing here to wash their dishes. It's not obligatory, but it's appreciated. They even wash each other's dishes. It's very social. We think of our guests as micro tenants, all sharing the same space.”
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