A business model for would-be third place operators? A couple of months ago I set aside the subject of The Terra Bite Lounge, an “upscale voluntary payment cafe/deli” in Kirkland, WA. I saw the item on Brand Autopsy, and other coverage has appeared in the Seattle Times and on the Kirkland Weblog.

The cafe post no prices, and does not “charge” people in the traditional sense… each person just pays what they feel is fair. They’re also welcome to drink coffee all week long and pay at the end of the week. I find the whole thing to be a very interesting concept. I expect that this will work better in some cities or parts of each city than in others… but if it’s established in an place that can draw some commuters or near a business district, it would probably be a way of funding the enterprise to keep it going, while allowing others to pay less than the going rate and have a place to hang out. A third place.

What do you think? Would this be a viable way of operating a missional third place? Or would the imposition of even a small agenda threaten the business model? Would it work in the areas that need a third place the most… and how does one define those areas?

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