I’ll have a #4 combo with a side of wifi

I had Krystal for lunch yesterday. I don’t know anyone who actually seeks out Krystal for a meal, but I did yesterday.

Not since college have I dined on those little square meat-like patties on steamed buns. And even then it was at 2:00am, when nothing else was open, and I needed a shock to my system to keep me going for another couple of hours.

Yet yesterday, I sought out Krystal.

But it was not the delicacy known as Krystal Burgers that I wanted, although that indeed was what I ordered. No; it was something else I was after. It was their free wireless Internet.

Free WifiYou see, yesterday I was visiting a client to perform some system integration testing. Much of the tests were straightforward. But the system has an outward facing portal that allows some users to access it from outside the network. To properly test that aspect, I needed to be outside the network. So I grabbed my laptop and headed for the closest wi-fi hot spot. It happened to be the home of the Krystal Burger.

Two hours and four Krystal Burgers later, my testing was complete.

Equipped for the Road

As a database consultant, I spend about 50% of my time working from the comfort of my home office. Frankly, that’s where I’m most productive. I can work remotely, focusing on the tasks at hand.

But there are times when it is simply necessary or more convenient to visit a client’s office. On those days, it’s not uncommon for me to have a spare hour or two between appointments. And for the price of a cup of coffee, I can gain admission to the the world wide web.

Oh sure, I have an iPhone with a data package. It’s great! I can wireless sync it with my server, check emails, and browse the web. I can even remote desktop into a client’s server with it. Having this capability allows me to provide much better service to my clients.

But trying to use my iPhone for serious work like developing Reporting Services reports or updating Integration Services packages, well, that would be like trying to launch a leverage buyout using an ATM machine. No for real, sustained work, I need to have my laptop connected to the Internet. And so, I ended up at Krystal.

A Developing Pattern

This wasn’t the first time I’ve done that either; it’s not an isolated event. I’ve eaten at sandwich shoppes just because they offered free Internet access.

For the past nine years, I’ve met with a group of guys at a Nashville coffee shop for a Friday morning Men’s Breakfast. We chose the location, in part, because it offers free wireless Internet for those of us who hang around after the breakfast for a little remote work.

So I’ve developed a pattern. I’ve chosen restaurants and by extension meals, not based on the menu, or quality, or even my taste preferences, but because of something that is not even close to their core business – their Internet access.

In this day, where email is with me wherever I go, and the web is but a finger touch away, my dining experience has been influenced, if not dictated, by the offer of free Internet.

What’s Going On?

Am I crazy? Maybe. But I’m not alone. Why else would Krystal, Panara’s, and McDonald’s offer free Internet to their customers? It used to be that those restaurants would intentionally have uncomfortable seating so they could get you in and out quickly. Now they lure you in and keep you using the world wide web.

So I’m curious. Have you selected a coffee shoppe or restaurant because they offered free Internet? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

By the way, I do have an AirCard from a cellular provider, but I don’t carry it with me. It stays at home since it is the home office’s connection to the Internet. And considering the number of times per month I actually visit a coffee shoppe for their Internet connection, it’s far less expensive to occasionally savor a few cups of coffee there than to pay for another AirCard.



5 Responses to I’ll have a #4 combo with a side of wifi

  1. Kevin3NF says:

    Yup. Chick-Fil-As here in the DFW area mostly have free WiFi….I left a day long client appointment a couple of years ago for a two hour lunch. During that lunch I fixed an issue for a different client while munching chicken nuggets….at full-on emergency bill rate 🙂

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  3. I eat at Schlotzky’s so much that my Facebook peeps say I should buy stock. I’m usually there because of the free WiFi (and it’s closest to the kids’ activities); I’ve even started to post food reviews while updating my blog.

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