Step Into My ‘Boffice’: Bars Where Your Laptop Goes Down Smooth

| January 30, 2012 4:00 AM

Freelance workers are increasingly using not just cafés but also bars as offices. Would this guy, who is hard at work in a Chelsea café, be smiling if he had a caipirinha or a beer instead of that iced cappuccino? MetroFocus/Laura van Straaten

A new trend has emerged in local dining establishments: the coffice. The term coffice, coined by hipster-friendly blog Brooklyn Based, refers to MacBook-filled coffee shops where freelance workers congregate for hours on end, satisfying both their need for WiFi and caffeine in one convenient location.

The Freelancers Union in New York State has 100,000 members and there are undoubtedly tens (if not hundreds) of thousands more non-union freelance workers in the city (in total, there are more than 42 million independent contractors in the U.S.), many of whom work from laptops in lieu of traditional work spaces. And of course, anyone whose employer believes in the open floor plan knows that sometimes, you have to get away to get anything done.

Did you have a good day at the boffice, hon?

But WiFi is available in more places than just cafés. And some of us need something a little stronger than espresso to get it all done before the deadline. Thus, the boffice. Bar + office = boffice.

Below is a list of 10 bastions of booze that not only have free WiFi, but allow and, in some cases, encourage laptop use for prolonged periods. To make the list, the establishment also had to be open by noon — even freelancers need to get up and work at some point — and have a full bar. All apologies to the beer and wine bar contingent, but we’re not playing around here. Sometimes serious work requires a serious drink. See our map of boffices.

Manhattan

Epistrophy
200 Mott St. (between Kenmare and Spring Streets) in NoLIta.

Epistrophy in NoLIta has comfortable seating, making it ideal for a boffice. Beware though, the management does not encourage working after 5 p.m., when they welcome customers fully focused on drinking. Flickr/Shawn Liu

Epistrophy is such a popular boffice that the management has gotten annoyed and instituted some work rules: no WiFi on the weekends or after 5 p.m. Still, with reasonably priced cocktails, a long wine list and a cozy interior, any dedicated boffice worker has to pay a visit, grumbling management or not.

Sláinte Pub
304 Bowery (between 1st and Bleecker streets) in the East Village.

Irish pubs, whose shamrock-emblazoned signs seem to dot every other street corner, may not seem like the ideal place to get work done. But Sláinte (named for the traditional Gaelic toast, which literally translates to “health”) would be the exception. According to Seamus, who was working the bar when MetroFocus called, about every second customer comes in and works on their iPhone (to be fair, some are probably just playing Words With Friends). And with cozy booths in the back of the pub, those with bigger gadgets and more work will feel welcome. Good luck working through happy hour, however: the bar’s two-for-one drink specials tend to bring in the masses.

The City Tavern
22 East 13th St. (between Fifth Avenue and University Place) in Greenwich Village.

Though the restaurant upstairs might be a little too formal for boffice work, the bar downstairs should do just the trick. However, due to City Tavern’s proximity to New York University and the New School, you could be competing with students for space and voltage, so come with a fully charged computer. Their happy hour could be exactly what you need after a rough day of ______ (what is it you do again?) and, with beer for $2.50, that hour (or two) will be sure to live up to its name.

As the photo suggests, Tea Lounge is a popular work destination for many. It's size allows it to host performers ranging in size from solo singers to big bands. Flickr/aleph78

Brooklyn

Tea Lounge
837 Union St. (between Sixth and Seventh avenues) in Park Slope.

Ok, so it’s not a bar for most of the day. But the prize for size goes to Tea Lounge; its spaciousness makes you even more glad you don’t work in a cubicle. (In fact, the place is so big that it hosted a big-band showcase two years ago.) Full of tables, chairs and sofas of all shapes and sizes, it nails the inviting boffice ambiance. And this living room ambiance isn’t just for show; according to both lounge staff and their website, Tea Lounge is glad to have people stay a while, though you’ll have to stay until 5 p.m. if you want a drink. For a beverage that brings Tea Lounge’s tea shop/bar elements together, try the Moroccan Mojito, made with mint tea and rum. Also keep in mind that The Tea Lounge is not the place for those that complain about crying children on plane flights; it’s a regular destination for Park Slope moms with strollers in tow.

South 4th Bar and Cafe
90 South 4th St. (between Wythe Ave & Berry St) in South Williamsburg.

You’re the independent type; you don’t work in an office, you don’t take no guff from nobody. So why don’t you take some more liberties and make your own drinks, you free spirit, you? With South 4th’s ”Make Your Own Bloody Mary” bar, you can! You can also get some work done while you’re at it: When a bar’s website encourages you to do “actual work by using our free WiFi,” you know it’s going to be a productive day at the boffice. South 4th doesn’t just talk about being a boffice, it’s also designed to be one, with a big section of tables in the back that can be curtained off if the bar gets too enticing. South 4th is for owls, not larks; bar service isn’t available until 3 p.m.

reBar
147 Front St. in DUMBO.

reBar's food, like its decor, offers a highbrow update of classic bar food for the many tech company employees in DUMBO who need to escape their open work spaces to get some real work done. Flickr/dumbonyc

reBar’s ambiance is a little more formal than that of others on our list; it boasts a bare-brick ceiling, leather-backed chairs and chandeliers galore. But don’t let that fool you: it is a great boffice. It’s location is also strategic: with new DUMBO tech companies popping up practically every day, reBar provides freelancers in related fields with a great home base for meeting with clients. But don’t think that reBar’s merely riding DUMBO’s coattails; come for the great beer and stay for their critically lauded mac-’n'-cheese, their cheese steak with gouda or a pulled-pork sandwich.

Brooklyn Fire Proof East
119 Ingraham St. in East Williamsburg.

Brooklyn Fire Proof East is one of those places that was clearly founded when the young and artsy began moving into Williamsburg. The bar/café is actually part of a larger complex that includes film and photography studios (hip hop duo Das Racist recently filmed the video there for their single, “Michael Jackson“) and an art gallery. Still, it’s a very legitimate boffice. It opens (as does the full bar) at 8 a.m. every weekday, perfect for the early-bird bofficer. Be sure to clear out before nightfall, however, as the place apparently gets a little rowdy. But, then again, after a full day of bofficing, rowdy could be just what you need.

The stained glass windows at Monika's Cafe Bar make it one of the most beautiful boffices on our list. Open from brunch 'til the wee hours, it is a popular hang out for people of every age -- working or not. Flickr/bhamsandwich

Queens

Monika’s Cafe Bar
3290 36th St. in Astoria.

As far as boffices go, Monika’s Cafe Bar is pretty darn aesthetically pleasing; stained glass windows light up the room on sunny days and brightly colored-furniture fills every corner. The management has created a relaxed atmosphere (they provide board games to customers and encourage them to sit and people-watch) that makes it an ideal boffice. After you grind through your quarterly report (or that third chapter of your novel), try coming back the next morning for brunch, which includes a free mimosa or Bloody Mary.

Spolem Café
66-30 Fresh Pond Rd. (between Palmetto and Woodbine) in Ridgewood.

Spolem is not really a bar in the traditional sense (dim lights, neon signs, lingering smoke smells from pre-Bloomberg days, hoboes at 11 a.m.), but hey, “bistroffice” doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it? And with both cocktails and beer on the menu, and a number of laptop-commuters filing in every day, it definitely fits the bill for a boffice. Spolem’s full of both cozy booths and sturdy tables, its red-and-black theme is fun, and, best of all, it has plenty of electrical outlets. If Yelp is any indicator, they also might have the friendliest staff in town.

The Bronx

Boffice in the Bronx? Try The Bruckner, in Mott Haven, which has earned fans for its friendly atmosphere and Sweet Thai Chili Fries. It also supports local art, by hosting live bands and displaying paintings. Flickr/Michelle Thompson

Bruckner Bar and Grill
1 Bruckner Blvd. in Mott Haven.

Of course there are boffices in Brooklyn, but the Bronx? Believe it! The Bruckner is so thoroughly rooted in the neighborhood that, according to one post on Yelp, it isn’t just like the Cheers bar, it’s better than the Cheers bar. Whoa. Though that’s a pretty audacious claim and though Cheers was in Boston, the Bruckner backs it up with exemplary waitstaff and events galore, like live figure-drawing on Monday nights. But, for our purposes, it’s a functional boffice, with big tables and good lighting. While you’re there,  try one of their highly-esteemed burgers, served on English muffins.

Next up: Boffice Politics…also, the “roffice” (restaurant + office)…

See the map below for boffice locations:

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