Ernie the Attorney files this report from the mean streets of N'awlins: Ernie is a Wi-Fi enthusiast, as he describes in his account of visiting coffeeshops and trolling for Wi-Fi--and engaging customers, staff, and owners. He has nothing to sell, but an idea.
I've seen the same concern expressed by coffeeshop owns. The folks who run Diva, a wonderful little place a few blocks from my office, have decided not to offer Wi-Fi because they already have table campers who sit for five hours with one cup of joe.
What they don't realize is twofold: first, the table campers could be asked to limit their time. Second, it's a different audience who comes in ready to work with Wi-Fi. They spend more, they spread information better, they can't sit still for long.
I've watched Herkimer Coffee, six blocks from Diva, which makes an equivalently good brew, grow its audience in just a few weeks from zero to packed almost every time I'm in there -- they have free Wi-Fi, more seating, outlets all over the place, and no problems with squatters so far.
One fellow, I see in there all the time. Every time I go in. He's got an expensive Dell. And he buys a lot of coffee.