Reno bars, coffee shops getting wired
The Internet seems to be working its way into local bars and cafes, as evidenced by two Reno businesses offering their customers use of the Internet in the last few months.
Gary Osmand, owner of The Stock Exchange, offers four Internet stations in his new upscale bar on 535 E. Fourth St. Osmand, a former investor, said he figured he could draw business executives into his bar to watch a trade ticker, have a drink and make some Internet trades at lunchtime, as the proliferation of e-trade companies has made online trading more accessible to the public.
“I thought I would do something a little bit different than everyone else,” Osmand said of his bar’s concept.
At night, Osmand said, the computers are less of a business tool and more of a source of entertainment to some of the bar’s patrons.
About the same time Osmand opened his bar this fall, computer consultants Tom and Maryann Sterling decided to open up the RenoSparks.com Internet Cafe at 516 S. Virginia St. The Sterlings offer customers computer-related services, such as computer graphics classes, and aim to pull in tourists who wish to check their e-mail and surf the Web to the tune of $10 an hour.
They already have an international clientele, Tom said, noting that the cafe attracts a lot of Asian customers.
The Sterlings also provide video conferencing and editing, photo manipulation and computer illustrating services with their nine computers, and they provide glossy paper for digital camera prints. Additionally, Maryann’s “other world” art is on display at the cafe. While their “cafe” consists of a coffee machine with a few condiments, the Sterlings boast having some of the finest organic cups of joe in the world from coffeeismydrugofchoice.com.
Richard VonValkenburg, a local retiree, takes classes from the Sterlings to learn more about computer graphics.
“I’ll probably rent time here until I finally buy my own computer,” he said.
Tom said that since the Sterlings opened their cafe, many locals have told him, “I thought about opening something like this.” Both Osmand and the Sterlings agree that some of the computer-related infrastructure costs have decreased, allowing businesses like theirs to offer Internet stations with DSL lines and high-speed Internet access.
“We couldn’t afford to do this three years ago,” Tom said.
According to Cybercafes.com, a directory of worldwide Internet cafes, there are almost 500 of these establishments nationwide and more than 4,000 worldwide. The only other cyber cafes in the state are located in Southern Nevada, according to the Web site.
Bruce Robertson, owner of Great Basin Internet Services, said high infrastructure costs and a lack of tourist interest have contributed to the Biggest Little City’s reluctance to offer these types of businesses.
“The area is so gambling-based that things that work in other places don’t necessarily work here,” Robertson said.
Robertson suggested that prospective cyber cafe owners offer Internet surfing time free, making other services the main focus of their businesses.