How we opened and then closed the anticafe targeted at people from the network

    Well-educated Petersburgers went through the front door, and Muscovites just climbed out the window.

    Hello! Once upon a time, I talked about the anti-cafe "Tea" - how we searched for a place, counted the stream and generally thoughtfully approached the opening of the format. Tea has been closed for a year and a half, but calls to book a table for a birthday come 2-3 times a day. Everyday. Still.

    The main question: is it possible to make money on anticafe? Yes, it is possible, but this is an extremely non-marginal business, and, therefore, I do not advise.

    Is it possible to gather people in a new place using only online channels without offline? It is possible, and how. A brief history below.


    Initially, a clear differentiation was needed. Someone chose the road "quietly and calmly", someone did events every evening and so on. Chaypei has become a place with board games. Here's the thing. I had a very persistent feeling that in the anticafe sooner or later extremely, let's say, insolvent personalities would start hanging out. Suspicion was based on the fact that:
    1. Sitting in the anticafe for a “short check” for a meeting is cheaper than in a regular one.
    2. I did not see any reason to sit in the institution for a long time, if there is where to go - for example, home. This means that there will remain those who are not very well at home - either schoolchildren (for whom this is a sip of freedom), or representatives of the idly staggering bohemia.

    There were not very many options, in fact, for all market participants:
    1. Focus on small companies that are just convenient to gather somewhere.
    2. Catching people who are really not welcome at home - and who are shy about sitting in a cafe for 4-5 hours.
    3. Focus on freelancers (then anticafe, creative spaces and “fast” coworking have not really been divided yet).
    4. Or hold events for which people will come.

    Naturally, I wanted to gather good people with whom it would be nice to just spend time. Therefore, the solution was quite simple - board games. Noisy and quiet, calm and fast, for large companies and for two.

    The first hall

    In the second hall. The paintings, by the way, were given absolutely free by one wonderful person.

    In contrast to the board games club, we had the possibility of payback. Unlike the cafe, there was a clear reason to drop by. Unlike other anticafe, trying to cover everything possible - there is only one reason to stop by. Clear and understandable, serving as a selection criterion. Positive, desktops.

    It quickly became clear that we did not even have to deal with the search for companies, but become something like IaaS for birthdays. When I cracked this chip, I almost immediately gave Yandex context first, and then targeted Vkontakte display ads to those who have their birthday tomorrow.

    Business model

    Let me remind you the main points for those who are reluctant to read the first topic . The anticafe format is only appearing in Russia, at the time we opened, there is a Dial and Butterflies. A minute costs an average of 1-2 rubles - inside there is free tea, sweets and Wi-Fi. In general, such a club of interests.

    Many just liked to sit on the windowsills.

    Remember, I wrote about social evidence ? Here is another cool review book form.

    Financial aspect

    The main costs:
    • Furniture and games.
    • Rental of premises.
    • Salary of staff.
    • Consumables (sweets, milk, dishes).
    • Security, garbage disposal and other communal utilities.
    • Advertising and more.

    The cost of consumables for a check did not usually exceed 12%. The total profitability, according to my estimates for today, was about 20%.

    We met all the suppliers: we went to the factory to visit cookies and milk, and we still work with coffee tea.

    A “white" design created a very large expense item: we did everything right away in our minds, which provided a lot of financial difficulties. For example, at that time, almost no anti-café had a coordinated sink (this is a special room with special requirements for ventilation and sewage) - the dishes were simply washed in the nearest sink. From the point of view of the Russian epidemiological surveillance, this is an extremely unpleasant jamb. Similarly, fire safety: many simply scored it and did it “as is”.

    Again, at the time when the boom of the opening of the anticafe began, almost no such institution had a normal panic button - so that in case of something they would come and calm down right away (yes, we never used it, but the fact of availability was important). There are restrictions on the maximum filling of the room - I can’t even imagine how the cafe worked with halls for more than 50 people without a second fire exit. But still, the main gift from the standards was that you had to use disposable tableware - or look for a very expensive room with an equipped sink.

    In practice, this meant that sufficiently large capital and operating expenses were required. Our margin in comparison with the margin of the open "AS IS" anticafe, in the hope that no one would touch its first two years, was almost two times different. By the way, I must say that such hopes were not always justified - at least one of the anti-cafes got a lawsuit, which immediately led to the closure.

    Nikita painted the Easter egg: “A man will drop a card, climb under the table - and there is a robot!” Just don’t tell anyone! ”


    A known problem of anticafe at that time was constant quarrels with neighbors. For example, “Dial” was especially noted in this plan, which seems to have been tried to survive from almost every point. At one of the sites every evening for two weeks, police came to call neighbors. Knowing the situation, we immediately made three important moves with the knight:
    • We agreed with the owner that if something is a problem with his neighbors (so that he always plays for us). It didn’t come in handy.
    • They hung a small sign “The Club of Developing Games” so that pensioners would know that they wouldn’t be cut off by the Internet and go around the porches, but something useful and positive.
    • Olya (the head of Chaypei) immediately after the opening called all the neighbors to visit, treated her with tea, showed everything inside. They liked it. I would not have guessed.

    In the afternoon - quiet people awesome with laptops, in the evening - noisy fun companies

    Who came

    First came our friends. In St. Petersburg, we had few of them, but it worked out. Then I sent out press releases, started ordering VKontakte ads, writing to different social networks. At some point, three main channels formed:
    1. Those who we already had and came with friends are the main ones.
    2. People from Contact for birthday targeting.
    3. People from social networks on paid one-time placements (waves) and releases, which reporters reproached with enviable popularity.

    Closer to the fall, both halls were completely full. This is the day when there were not enough chairs, window sills and everything else - some just walked through the halls.

    Not many people came from Habr, but one fine day two young men appeared on our doorstep with a sign (we didn’t have it then). “We noticed that you have no sign. Hold on. Greetings from Leprosy. " And they left. It was insanely cool.

    We began to appear the first regular visitors. A profile has formed: mega-friendly people who just like to play quietly with us. And the second type of people we made money from are birthday parties.

    As I already said, the calls went on for another two years despite the fact that the phone was drank from the site almost immediately after closing, plus it was written in capital letters that “Chaypea” was gone. Absolutely. Here is the screen:

    About closing

    At some point, it became clear that the whole story could pay off, but it was very painful, difficult and with low profitability. The same forces could be put into something useful and interesting. As a result, we simply took the Tea Party team and made the Event Department of Mosigra in St. Petersburg out of it. After that, sales and recognition immediately went up, and I personally freed up a lot of time for other projects.

    This is our social kitten. An employee Masha found him near the club of everything broken. She didn’t open Chaypei in the morning, carried him to the hospital, took an x-ray of the whole cat, she was advised to put to sleep so that she would not suffer. I gave money for the vacation, collected about 5 thousand more through social networks, the club helped find two donor cats - and Bezameni-1 is already a healthy three-legged cat, living at Olya’s behind the sofa.

    As an experiment and business education - it was magical. As “let’s repeat it” - perhaps not, it’s easier, faster and more profitable to open stores. But now we are thinking about our permanent venues like last year’s in Gorky Park and the Winery - there the experience of permanent events inside the cafe is very useful.

    While you are relaxing, our Tom Sawyer animator squad is preparing a pavilion in Gorky Park.

    Total: people from the network go and go well, if you know what to do. We need smart advertising, the effect of novelty and the right atmosphere in place. For a year, about twenty people asked me whether it’s worth opening my own - so, this is a hobby and study, but no place to earn money. Unless, of course, you need to pay rent. Ultimately, paradoxically, the anticafe model would ideally resemble the model of an ordinary cafe - and the second has much more potential for development.

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