WeWork’s under-the-radar rival? Bars and restaurants

Startups transform eateries into offices during their off hours
April 03, 2017 10:40AM

Spacious’ Preston Pesek and Public restaurant at 210 Elizabeth Street in New York (Credit: Google Maps)

From TRD New York: First, WeWork brought the bar to the office. Now, a string of startups are bringing the office to the bar.

Amid the coworking boom, a handful of entrepreneurs are teaming up with restaurants and bars to transform their locations into shared-working spaces during the off hours, Bloomberg reported.

For members, it’s less expensive than WeWork, but more organized than a Starbucks.

“Walking by a coffee shop and seeing everybody piled on top of each other, and seeing a beautiful empty restaurant next door—it just seemed to be a natural fit,” said Preston Pesek, co-founder and CEO of Spacious, which converts spaces like the dining room at Nolita’s Michelin-star restaurant Public into co-working hubs.

Subscriptions run somewhere in the range of $95 to $110, or about half the cost of a desk at WeWork. They don’t offer as many bells and whistles, but do provide quick Wi-Fi connections, printers, office supplies and coffee.

Spacious normally uses high-end restaurants, so it doesn’t have to worry about cleaning up a big mess from the night before. The business model is popping up in places like Austin, Texas and Tel Aviv.

Spacious has another location at La Sirena in Chelsea, the eatery owned by celebrity chef Mario Batali.

“You walk out of here and go to the washroom, and the orange Croc wonder is standing there doing a commercial, and you’re like, ‘Oh, yeah. Hi!’” said Spacious member Cheryl Clements.

WeWork could see its valuation pegged at over $20 billion after Japanese telecom giant SoftBank last month pledged to invest more than $3 billion. [Bloomberg]Rich Bockmann