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Ticket of La Qarmita that marks the time to either leave or order something else. Ideal
The Granada café that sets a time limit for its customers

The Granada café that sets a time limit for its customers

Depending on what they order, the café determines how long a customer can stay at one of its tables

Alberto Flores

Granada

Monday, 27 November 2023, 11:37

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The city of Granada has a multitude of bars, taverns, restaurants and cafés to choose from. However, despite the large number, none of them does what La Qarmita does. The bookshop-café located in the central Calle Águila has implemented a unique concept: staff give their customers a maximum time to enjoy their food or drink based on what they have ordered. After this time, there are two options: to leave or to order something else.

"The minimum time we give is one hour with the cheapest drinks, but if you order more expensive items, you get more time. For example, an eight-euro plate of food gives you three hours," Germán Bonillo, owner of the café, told Granada newspaper IDEAL. To understand this concept you first have to understand La Qarmita, because it is not a normal café. "We are a themed bookshop-café where people can come here to read, work or play board games," said Germán.

He explained that they offer "cultural tapas", as they provide their customers with free books, board games, internet connection and sockets to charge their phones, tablets or laptops if necessary, all in exchange for ordering a drink or tapas.

"Although it may seem extreme, there are people who spend eight hours at a time here." And because of this problem, and because of their business concept, they decided to implement the time limit idea.

"Although it may seem extreme, there are people who stay here for eight hours at a time"

Germán Bonillo, owner of La Qarmita

"Our café is small, we only have 11 tables and we are always full. When we started out, people only had one drink and, as they felt comfortable, they stayed for a long time," said the owner. And that meant that the café was always full but the accounts said otherwise at the end of the month. "That's why we decided to introduce this measure. We could have become a normal café but we decided to keep what sets us apart but offer it in a different way."

The lounge of the café-bookshop La Qarmita.
The lounge of the café-bookshop La Qarmita. Ideal

In this way, anyone can go to La Qarmita to work, play a board game with friends, study or read, as long as they are ordering food and drink while doing so. "The time we give varies depending on the day and the time of day. In the morning we usually give two hours with the minimum consumption but if it is Friday afternoon, when a lot of people come, we only allow one hour."

Customer reaction

Germán acknowledged that at first it was a change that surprised many of his customers: "There were some people who were shocked by the rule change, but now almost nobody has a problem with it." In fact, he said that most people understand it and are grateful for it, as now they can find free tables more easily whereas before it was practically impossible. "It's something that has allowed us to shine again, we've had a lot of positive reviews since then," he concluded.

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