By Jaci Schneider, Staff Writer
Upon walking into Abilene’s first computer cafe, one won’t be greeted with the aroma of fresh coffee or pastries, but with the gentle hum of brand-new Compaq computers.
Abilene Computer Cafe opened two months ago in the United Supermarket shopping center on Judge Ely Boulevard. The cafe, opened by Robert Malone and Richard Crosson, functions as a computer lab and a print and copy shop.
Each of the 12 computers in the cafe is equipped with Windows XP and a Pentium IV processor, the newest and fastest of the Pentium processors. Customers pay $5 an hour to use the Internet, word processor, compact disc burner and games. Printing and copying have brought in the most revenue for the cafe, Malone said. Pages cost 10 cents each to print or copy.
Malone and Crosson said they opened the cafe near ACU because they were told that students were likely to use it. However, only about 2 percent of their customers are college students. Business probably would have been better on the other side of town, Malone said, but there are no plans for a change of location.
The cafe advertises in the Optimist, and flyers have been distributed. However, it is difficult to advertise on campus, Crosson said. As a result, many students are unaware that the cafe has opened.
“I didn’t know there was a computer cafe,” said Cheryl Halbert, freshman children and family ministry major from San Antonio. “But I personally probably won’t ever use it because my roommate has a computer, and I use it just for e-mail.”
Although business at the cafe has not been booming, Malone and Crosson said they are not planning on closing. Visitors to Abilene, older people and professionals make up most of the cafe’s patrons. Malone said the cafe has a few regulars and sometimes groups of people will come in to play games against each other.
At Lubbock computer cafes, 30-40 computers stay busy all the time, Malone said. Although Abilene is a smaller town, he said the idea of a computer cafe just needs more time to catch on.
Before being allowed to use a computer, customers must sign an agreement that they will not view pornographic material on the computers. Malone said they wanted to make the cafe friendly to students, so drugs and alcohol are not allowed, and neither is profanity, fighting or weapons.