CyberCafe - Internet with Cappuccino

FTLComm - Winnipeg - July 3, 1998

You may have seen Dotto's Cafe on television with the enthusiastic Vancouver computer guru Steve Dotto in his cafe setting, but what about the real thing. FTLComm set out to find some actual examples of this kind of business in Winnipeg and located two.

Someplace - Web Cafe
in Osborne village has three stations on line, using Direct PC, the satellite Internet connection. Direct PC uses a telephone line connection to make the requests to the Internet and the information then downloads via a satellite link. This business is open until 4:00 AM each morning offering customers access to the Internet at $5.50 an hour, $3.50 a half hour and billed in fifteen minute intervals. Though there was no one using the systems while we visited the cafe it was reported that
business was usually brisk and it varied considerably around the clock as to peek times. Though the picture on the left does not really show the atmosphere, the lighting in the room was very low and most of the tables were full with patrons.

Osborne village is a rather unique part of Winnipeg noted for the sort of alternative life style that other urban communities such as Toronto's Yorkville and Vancouver's 10th Avenue. Even Regina's 13th Avenue has developed some of the street cafe's and alternative lifestyle shops associated with art music and evolving culture. The picture below is of one of the shops in the Osborne area.

To find the second location we journeyed into St. Boniface just beyond the Forks to visit a book and video store with an attached Cybercafe. This is the Francophone portion of Winnipeg rich in heritage and with a vibrant French speaking community. Most of the titles in the bookstore were French as were the magazines on the newsstand
The picture above is St. Boniface's city hall and on the right is the post office. The clerk in the book store told us that the Internet project had not been economically successful and had been discontinued in December. It suggests that the Osborne waiter in Someplace might have been correct when he explained the atmosphere. When asked about the low lighting he said that this made customers comfortable and was essential to the site. The St. Boniface location was decorated and set up specifically as a commercial Internet business and perhaps without the cafe/bar atmosphere that alone was not enough to make the business viable.