By Graham Murray
Ziferblat offers a new approach to the age-old model of a coffee shop. A ‘pay as you go’ café, the only commodity you will be paying for here is the time spent in the space. Cake, coffee, tea, Cluedo and a host of other treats and activities are there to enjoy at your leisure, for a very reasonable 5p per minute. Head of marketing, Ben Davies and head of operations Gareth Harold, inspired by the original Russian model have brought the concept to Manchester and so far, it has been a great success.
Hidden in amongst the record stores and edgy bars of Northern Quarter, head down Edge Street and you will find a logo of a man who quite literally has a clock for a face. Buzz yourself in, head up the stairs and be greeted by some friendly staff who will take a note of your name and your time of entry. From this moment on you are free to enjoy the space how you choose.
You have of choice of tea, coffee, biscuits, diet coke and bananas amongst many other things. A selection of today’s papers, Cards Against Humanity, Connect4 or Chess await to keep you entertained. Although, how you choose to spend your time there is entirely up to you.
Ben and Gareth brought the franchise over from Russia, the branding and concept remain entirely the same as it is there. Since arriving in Manchester, Ben says he has been taken aback by the extent of media exposure they have had. Indeed, they have enjoyed both extensive local coverage in the M.E.N. and national coverage in the likes of The Guardian and The Telegraph, contributing to the buzz that followed them since the café opened last month.
Ben says Ziferblat are trying to create a sense that this space is welcome to everyone – students, families, couples, whoever. There is a real sense of accessibility about the place. They do not identify as a Café here though necessarily. They view it as more of a “living space”. It is easy to see why they feel this way – the emphasis here is much less on hot drinks and paninis, being guided more towards simply relaxing and enjoying a comfortable atmosphere.
Ben says they have also been pleased with how respectful customers have been. They fully entered this idea fearing the worst for customers abusing the free cake but this has not come to fruition. The respectful and friendly atmosphere remains intact.
Ziferblat offers an entirely different experience to your typical café or coffee shop. The kicker here is simply how much time flies while you are there. It is a comfortable place for students or anyone to enjoy, a self-described “tree house for grown-ups”. Ben is keen for students to see it as a place to enjoy how they choose:
“We would love to welcome students when library or home doesn’t quite do it. Come down, relax with some friends, or just get on with some work.”
Graham Murray is an MSc Marketing (Communications) student. In his spare time, Graham enjoys music festivals and bad puns. For more bad puns and jokes even your Dad would cringe at, you can follow him on Twitter here: @Crayonmoney