The Houston Chronicle documents the move to make room for Wi-Fi and laptops everywhere one eats or drinks: Cafes started offering Wi-Fi way back in 2000, with hundreds offering the service by 2001, and thousands by 2002. While some early Internet access was found in restaurants, it was still strange to have people carrying Wi-Fi equipped laptops; no handhelds offered the service. Now, with Wi-Fi in every device, venues are making more and more accommodation for lengthy users.
An interesting story early in the article details a wine bar adding Wi-Fi primarily to help its network of wine vendors and buyers have convenient access for placing orders as a thank-you for their business. Because coffeeshops are now crowded with users, Wi-Fi elsewhere seems to have gained in popularity because there's still places to sit.
A tea shop found the mythical Wi-Fi-to-dollars conversion, too: "Many customers 'will open a tab,' Bell adds. They may start their visit with a cup of tea and move on to a meal."
This article is a neat contrast to the minor trend I was alerted to last year, with locations that were limiting Wi-Fi or engaged in some battles with Wi-Fi users who lingered (or didn't make a purchase). [link via Steve Titch]