GDR meets… Spacious

Jul 25, 2016

Spacious is a New York based startup that is opening up evening-only restaurants as co-working spaces during the daytime. For $95 per month, digital nomads can use an app to check in to any of Spacious’ locations, where they then get access to free Wi-Fi and unlimited coffee. As well as benefitting remote workers who are on the hunt for options cheaper than the $450 per month membership at co-working giant WeWork, the scheme helps restaurants by giving them a share of the profits.

Preston Pesek, CEO and co-founder of Spacious, talked to GDR Innovation Researcher Lamorna Byford about the startup’s vision of creating beautiful, inspiring co-working spaces away from traditional offices.

The likes of DBGB Kitchen & Bar provide an alternative to claustrophobic offices and expensive co-working spaces

The likes of DBGB Kitchen & Bar provide an alternative to claustrophobic offices and expensive co-working spaces

How did you choose the participating restaurants?

The main considerations were design and location. We look for beautiful spaces that people would want to be a part of, so we spent a lot of time thinking about quality of design and ambience. The aim is to find inspired but productive space that’s not necessarily an office. We also considered location very carefully. Each restaurant needs to be located in a good neighbourhood that’s central and easy to get to. We’re opening our third location in July and we’ll continue to open about one space a month after that. We want each restaurant to benefit from the buzz around the opening, which is why we’re staggering them.

What’s the advantage of Spacious over other co-working schemes?

The big advantage for us is that we haven’t had to enter into any long term fixed leases with landlords. By partnering with restaurants, we’re using space that is otherwise sitting empty, so we can do that at a much better price point.

No applications or reservations are needed to be able to use PUBLIC as an afternoon work space

No applications or reservations are needed to use PUBLIC as an afternoon work space

It’s also really advantageous for the restaurants – it’s a win, win, symbiotic relationship. Running a successful restaurant in a city like New York or London is no easy feat. We hope that partnering with Spacious will allow existing and future restaurant partners to focus on what they do best in the evenings, their food and hospitality, without having to worry so much about the rent. We hope to enable restaurants to take a few risks and experiment.

Also, with Spacious members in the space all day, there’s a direct sales opportunity. Chefs are already working in the kitchen all day, and Spacious members provide an audience for them to test small plates and new ideas on those working in their space. Our members love this idea too, a little taste of the dinner menu while you’re working throughout the day.

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This is a great and – crucially – very simple idea. Why do you think this hasn’t happened before?

I think we needed mobile tech to really saturate our culture before this would be possible. The tech behind Spacious is powerful, and it leverages the fact that we already carry screens with us everywhere we go. It’s this existing mobile infrastructure that creates an opportunity for something like Spacious that didn’t necessarily exist before. The culture is re-orienting itself around the screen in your pocket, and Spacious embraces that – one screen gives you access to any Spacious location. My co-founder Chris Smothers is a talented hacker (I think he’s a genius), and he’s really been responsible for seamlessly integrating this dense network of existing tech, and making it all fit together for a seamless Spacious user experience.

What does the future hold for Spacious?

For $95 a month, Spacious gives users unlimited weekday access to L'Apicio

For $95 a month, Spacious gives users unlimited weekday access to L’Apicio

We’re opening a dozen more locations in New York over the next few months. We’re also looking to expand to open in San Francisco, Los Angeles and London. I’m from a commercial real estate background and I see restaurants as just the beginning. There are opportunities to activate many different spaces and we’re really excited to do that in the future.

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