Virgil's in Saratoga: coffee without the buzz

virgil's sign

Unplug before entering.

Kathleen Quartararo wants you to visit Virgil's House, her coffee shop in Saratoga
Springs, but your laptop can stay at home. And your cell phone? Off, please.

In a day when most of us are looking for a place with a good latte AND free wifi, Kathleen is bucking the trend in an effort to create an old fashioned unplugged environment. No phones, no texting, no computers. Why? AOA called her (yes, on our cell phone) to find out.

virgil's storefrontSo, why the rules about laptops and cell phones?

I am a huge fan of technology. It's spectacular. But I do not believe our culture has acclimated to using technology. It's completely out of control. People have decided they will work 24 hours a day, be available 24 hours a day, answer the phone whenever it rings. I think there's a time and place for work. I went to The Great Escape last summer with my kids and every other guy I saw had a Bluetooth headset in his ear. It's just overboard. When people are on their cell phones, they sometimes don't see what's in front of them, and when they're working on laptops, I think they're pretty much closed off. That's just my opinion, and I don't judge other people who have a different view, but I don't want that atmosphere. I wanted to create something different.

Is it a marketing thing? A way to differentiate yourself?

It's not so much about a marketing or niche. Purely and simply and selfishly this is my little world I'm trying to create for myself. I love talking to everybody. I love reading. I love children. I have a whole children's section with books and toys. I want to create an atmosphere where people can talk, play a board game and meet other people.

Does it work?

A lot of people like it. I've had customers hug me. We've been open almost a year and I've really only had two people complain. We have to remind people sometimes. I just thank them for wanting to come in before I tell them. If they have work they need to do I send them to Uncommon Grounds or Starbucks. If they need to use the phone, I have an old fashioned looking phone that anyone can use at any time, or they're welcome to use the phone in my office. We try to be accommodating. We just want to give people a chance to take a breath and pay more attention to themselves. You're supposed to be where you are at the moment.

Find It

Virgil's House
86 Henry St
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

(518) 587-2949


What am I supposed to talk to my fellow citizens about? I better google "topics of conversation". D'awww crap! I forgot, no wifi in here!

The first comment says it all. We've even forgotten how to talk to our fellow citizens - or what to talk to them about. Thanks for reminding us about the simple and important things in life! By the way, the food and coffee are fantastic!

I agree. I hope this is a successful venture. People are "plugged in" all the time, and it absolutely blows me away. You don't *have* to have those things in your ear all the time, so why do people do it?

Someone recently informed me that the guys with the ever-present Blue Tooth receivers in their ears are referred to as "Blue Holes".

and seriously, do you think any of those characters in Starbucks staring intently at their lap tops are doing anything of substance? They are there to pick up chicks, just like the rest of the world

@Barold: "Blue Tools" is another popular nickname.

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