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London Branch Of Russian Pay-By-The-Minute Café Opens

posted 21 Jan 2014, 09:26 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 21 Jan 2014, 09:26 ]

A new café where customers pay for time not drinks has opened in London, with the owners hoping its successful format in Russia will prove a hit globally.

 LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JANUARY 21, 2014) (REUTERS) - A new pay-as-you go café has opened in east London, with its Russian owners hoping the concept of charging customers by the minute rather than the drink will prove a hit and even go global.

At Ziferblat - a German word adopted by the Russian language meaning 'clock face' - visitors are given a clock as they enter and are then encouraged to give donations based on the time they spend inside, with a suggested rate of 3 pence per minute.

This means a customer can spend an hour in the first-floor café in London's trendy Shoreditch for as little as 1.80 pounds ($2.95), while enjoying complimentary tea, coffee, toast and biscuits.

The first Ziferblat opened in Russia in 2011 and has already spawned eight others there and one in Ukraine. The London branch marks its first expansion into Western Europe.

For Indira Alymkuleva, one of four co-founders of Ziferblat, the business is less about making money and more about give people a place they can come to relax and enjoy themselves.

"We more want this place to exist and want people to use it and we don't really need big, big money," she said. "We're not making really big money. We're just surviving."

Customers appeared to enjoy the Ziferblat experience, with its mish-mash of furniture and gentle music creating a relaxed atmosphere.

Rob Dubitsky, 50, an American with an office in New York said: "I've been here two or three times before so I'm looking for a café where I can get a lot of work done, settle in for a few hours… So it's the perfect location to get some work done."

Paulo Diaz, 23, who was visiting London from Brazil, said: "The idea that you can leave more or less or whatever you want and it's open space, it's only an open box that you can just put the money there, you don't have to control it, it's really nice the idea behind it. I really like it."

Despite only just expanding to London, Zifferblat's owners are already planning their next move and are talking of opening a café in New York later this year. Indira Alymkuleva believes there is space for Ziferblat in every city.

"We'd like to have Ziferblats everywhere. Like, we're sure that every city needs such a place. Yeah. But first of all we want to begin with the most important places," she said.


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