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David Gorniak

Bar Tender/ Night Porter/ Aspiring Writer/ Part time philosopher,

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The "Mingle" Cafe, where being a stranger is forbidden.

Mingle cafe. like any other cafe but with a focus on mingling (to network.( All seats are numbered and when an order is made at the counter a customer is given a ticket with a random number. They must then sit in that seat number, no matter who else may be at the table. Customers are discouraged from being strangers to each other.It would be an uncomfortable scenario at first having to sit with a complete stranger but with possibly great benefits. That stranger that you would not normally speak to, let alone choose to sit at the same table as they could be a future inspiration, business partner, client, or network contact or even a love interest. And it is all done in the safety of a public place whilst drinking the beautiful stimulant that is coffee, thus helping conversations and ideas to flow and relationships to develop.

Topics: cafe's networking
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  • Jun 21 2012: I like the concept of it being an occassion within an existing cafe, rather than a stand alone cafe itself. If it was a was a cafe on its own i think it would struggle to find enough customers everyday. But if it was a oncwe a week occurance, in which customers were notified before hand be it by email or other PR work then the outcome would be much better.
    I wander if there are other ways in which we can coerce strangers to talk to each other without fear of intrusion or rejection. Sometimes being a stranger can be really beneficial, as long as we choose to be open and not reclusive. For example, a friend of mine visited Australia for a year on his own, without any friends or family. He claims that the fact that he was on his own, and a stranger to everyone and vice versa he was forced out of his comfort zone and speak to people he would not normally speak to if he had his friends with him, becasue l;et's face it - why would he have to?
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      Jun 22 2012: In your description coercion is not an issue, because people wouldn't come that night if they were not game for the agenda.
      It might be necessary to put forward ground rules to give people confidence. For example, do you want people to come in who don't like going places where they have to sit for some length of time next to someone who wants to hit on them? What about having to sit next to someone bending your ear to get a signature for a ballot measure or a contribution for a cause? What if you pull a number and sit next to someone selling products?
      Are there rules or is it caveat emptor?
      • Jun 22 2012: A good point. Some basic ground rules would have to apply. For example it would be a violation to use the event to sell a product (though it would be allowabe for a persoon to promote a product), or to force someone into signing up for something or to force a vote or belief (discussion only; not force) etc.Of course there will be occasions where you would get seated next to a person who you just can't hold a conversation with. For me that is not a problem and a risk worth taking. What's the likely outcome in that secario? You sit and drink your coffee in private. The important thing is that creates an opportunity of communication between strangers, and though it might not work all the time but i think the chance and potential of such a scenario can be very promising, even if it is just for fun.
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          Jun 22 2012: As long as the ground rules are clear, people can decide whether to participate Again, if you were to try such a thing, you could start with a survey or focus group of potential participants to help you determine ground rules.
          For example, if someone is pitching a product and one isn't interested, shouldn't one be able to leave or change seats rather than sitting and drinking coffee in place as the sales pitch continues? .When someone calls to sell you something over the phone, you know how they sometimes keep right on talking even after you have said politely you cannot help them or aren't interested?
          I think you would need to think in advance about opportunistic use of space for selling to a captive audience. Many online discussion sites have that problem unless a moderator filters out commercial use.
          To me, there seem to be so many places where one can talk to strangers if one chooses, such as any normal coffee shop without getting stuck not being able to change seats if you chance upon a relentless salesperson, for example.
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    Jun 21 2012: If you wanted to try this as an entrepreneurial venture, you might want to try first to host it one evening a week at an existing venue to see the response you get. In fact, it might work best as an occasional rather than an everyday format.
    Secondary schools sometimes do something like this at lunch time once a month as a "mix it up day."
    Some social websites do something similar by organizing swaps in which people make something for, or write something to, someone in the group whose name comes to them at random.
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    Jul 21 2012: Can I have cocoa instead? I want to play but I do not drink coffee!
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    Jul 8 2012: I really like this idea! I think it would work best if it was a part of your Cafe, not the entire thing. Give people the option to choose so that you do not lose customers who just want a normal Cafe. There would also be an opportunity for you to contact the local businesses in your area; I am sure they would love to do so of their staff orientation in this fashion.

    David Gorniak I am attending Niagara University in the United States, for Integrative Managment. Are you planning to start this as your own business? If so, I would love to hear about how it goes! If you are willing you can find all of my contact information on my profile page. Thanks, and all the best!
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    R H 30+

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    Jun 23 2012: Do you think people would actually go? Would there be 'regulars'? So if you went with a group you wouldn't sit together because seating is assigned. It seems this would appeal only to very outgoing, open, and adverturous individuals. The setting could also be a feeding ground for predators, put individuals (particularily women) in a more vulnerable situation with strangers, and possibly expose proprietors to liablility issues. The concept of putting people together out of their comfort zone to expand their horizons and meet new friends is great, but this would seem to require a specific mindset that customers would have to be willing to pay for. Maybe call it the "Type A Cafe".
    • Jun 25 2012: I don't think it should be thought of a regular, scheduled "event" where people plan to go. For example whenever I find myself in a cafe it's not something i have planned in advance, I just happen to go in as i pass by and i think the same applies for a lot of people.
      Saying that though it would be important for people to know what type of cafe it was in advance so that they are not caught off-guard on their first visit which would possibly done through a grand opening marketing campaign. Additonally a customer does not have to take part and can be seated at a non-numbered table.
      Of course there would be rules and regualtions in place but i don't think it could ever be for everyone's tastes and you could not impose to many rules - that would only serve to distrub the easy going nature.
      Ideally the whole numbering system and rules and regulations would be momentarily - until such a time when the concept of sitting down and speaking to strangers becomes a natural thing within the cafe. You wouldn't need to be given a number, you would just feel at ease sitting next to anyone because that's what the cafe would be known for.
      But really for me the idea of the cafe itself isn't the issue. It's more to do with how to get members of society to interact with each other, just as we are just now. I know the world is full of dangerous characters but i think that in everday to day life we just make the effort to aknowledge one another and I think that is a shame. Whether or not this matters or not I will ask in a seperate post.
      Thanks for the comment,
      All the best.
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    Jun 22 2012: I really like the idea of this, David. I share Fritzie's sentiments on the wisdom of some basic ground rules for safety and respectful exchanges.

    I think having a change of seats perhaps every 15 minutes or so would also give a good out for people that really aren't natural allies. For folks that find this isn't enough time, then it seems a connection has been made that will likely lead them both to want to chat again perhaps at the end of a particular session, or at another time.

    I do think this might, in fact, thrive as a standalone café with this as it's only agenda if there's a commitment to embracing a variety of interest groups and niches. Perhaps each day could invite people around a particular theme. This would serve as a bit of a magnet to like minds where the folks who come out already have a common interest. I know if something like that existed in my community I would certainly be a client. It would be a fun way to push past my own comfort zone and not only meet new people but explore new ideas I might not otherwise have considered.

    I do think your idea has a lot of potential in existing venues as a natural attractor. Thanks for putting it out there, David.