Bytes Internet Cafe
Thursday, October 1, 1998
A few weeks ago when Wall Street was doing the watusi while stock indexes swayed to a roiling rhythm, one of Mark Fidler's customers burst through door and raced toward a terminal, desperate to get online. Beetle-browed and muttering something about just having lost $5,000, half an hour later he was all smiles, his losses recovered, and then some.
What to do to celebrate when you've just outwitted Wall Street and click off-line at Bytes Internet Cafe? Breathe a sigh of relief and order up an espresso to go along with The Megabyte, a triple-decker club with ham, turkey, red onion and Jack cheese. Or make it a Modem, with avocado and Swiss. Nosh away and then beam yourself back into cyberspace to see what kind of deep discounts William Shatner is hawking on round-trip fares to Antarctica, or check out room rates on a cabana in Belize.
"The joke used to be that you could post a letter back home and be there before it got there," says Fidler with a crisp British accent. "Just like back then, this is the kind of place where you can get a cup of coffee or tea and write a letter back home, only now it takes a matter of seconds to arrive." The eight computer stations Fidler installed are outfitted with cup holders and Internet access, comfortable cubbyholes where students, travelers, or someone finding themselves in need of an instant office can be accommodated by MMX capability and three browsers to choose from. With rates at $8.50 an hour, or $2.50 for 15 minutes, it's a reasonable way to take advantage of software like Word, Excel, Power Point, Word Perfect and Print Shop.
Black-and-white laser, or color ink-jet printing is also available as well as a fax machine and scanner.
Need a meeting with the folks back at the office? Schedule a video conference. Fidler's goal is to be a full-service techno-solution for both business needs and less serious pursuits. Just open a few months, there's already a band of regulars, most of whom are members of Bytes Access Club, who show up for game nights. In-house discounts, free services like e-mail, web pages and scanning are a few of the perks for a low monthly fee, as well as friendly technical support.
Fidler doesn't worry too much if some crumbs happen to end up in the keyboards. "I just run them through the dishwasher," he laughs. A self-taught computer whiz, he picked up a substantial degree of knowledge about such things while being well schooled by several years in the restaurant business during a long stint locally at both Brewster and Molly O'Brien's. "But, it was my 12-year-old daughter who said, 'Don't worry, Dad, I'll show you,' when I first sat down at the computer a few years ago," he admits. Having constructed each computer and station himself, he's now working on adding several more, and maybe a conference room, down the road.
The menu is kept deliberately simple, some five sandwiches, coffee drinks, teas and local pastries. Bytes doesn't pretend to be a restaurant; as one of only a few cyber-cafes in the country, the emphasis is on providing quick and tasty comfort food as a convenient counterpart to the real work at hand: researching a term paper, locating a liquor license, playing a game of solitaire or engaging a chat room to get help chasing down an obscure part for your classic car--all with your choice of wheat, sourdough or rye. cw