If you’ve ever taken a stroll through SoMa in San Francisco or SoHo in New York City during the day, you are likely to be greeted by the blank stares of sleepy, nocturnal restaurants and bars. Modern culture it seems would have you separate the work district from the center of a city’s nightlife. But that leaves a hell of a lot of prime real estate essentially off the map during daylight hours. This seemingly inefficient concept sounded weird to Pub Hub Co-founder and CEO Daniel Rubin, who said he’s always been bewildered by the lack of utility given to nighttime hotspots that could be doubling their business during the day.
The idea first struck him when he was working in New York City, a locale with no shortage of culture but is severely wanting for decent workspace.
“I would walk to my coworking space, and while walking to work I would see tens of closed bars with their chairs stacked up and I thought they would make amazing workspaces,” Rubin told Geektime. That idea finally came to fruition last month when Pub Hub officially launched at Rosa Parks Bar at 265 Dizengoff Street, one of the more prominent streets in Old North Tel Aviv.
“Since launch it has been a crazy two weeks. The bar is super happy to be working with us, and we’ve had a lot of good feedback from our free trials. We are constantly tweaking the place to make it a lot more user friendly.”
The logistics is what makes a project like this unique. Bars aren’t designed to double for much else in off hours, so flipping the place over is the sort of task that would-be host pubs have to take into account.
“There are tons of details that we deal with every morning to make this space as member-friendly as possible. The main ones are 1) the cushions we add to the seats to make sitting more comfortable, 2) we bring out a printer everyday, and of course 3) we super-upgraded the WiFi to Check Point security for safe and fast internet. This bar (not every bar works the same way) takes the responsibility of turning it back into a bar at night, but we work closely with the staff to make it as easy a transition as possible.”
Negotiating something like this isn’t as difficult as you might think. Pub Hub has not had much trouble selling their idea to bar owners. The bars negotiate the rent and are likely to profit off any arrangement. The question is whether or not the bar meets Pub Hub’s needs, and obviously if the price is right.
“What we do is either we know someone who knows someone who knows someone or just approach them and explain to them we’d like to use their space. They traditionally say yes, then we move forward looking at some of the logistics.”
Rubin tells Geektime they are in touch with at least five bars right now and have spoken to several more across Israel.
“I have had good interest from bars in Jerusalem. If I do see an interest we will open there. Right now, I see the demand here [in Tel Aviv] where there’s a big coffee shop culture.”
This active cafe scene is likely to be a significant competitor for the Pub Hub team, as many of the freelancers and other out of office types have grown accustomed to their usual haunts that offer food and coffee without the rent. However, the Pub team does provide a work space without the dirty looks for taking up a table all day, no screaming children, and an atmosphere that could be more conducive to getting stuff done. Add to this that members have access to all Pub Hub locations – convenient for meetings in other parts of town – and they give the cafes a run for their money.
To the best of Rubin’s knowledge, the only other group doing this right now New York-located Spacious, which has rented out two restaurants to take advantage of their empty nighttime hotspots.
So far, they’ve given out dozens of free trials and day passes, but those will end soon. Memberships will be weekly (₪225) and monthly (₪500) in the near future as they prepare to open their second location at Polly Bar on Rothschild Boulevard, likely to happen at the beginning of November. Expansion is definitely the goal though as you can hear Rubin’s excitement at just the mere idea of a network of tap-to-tech work places in the startup hubs of the world. So how soon will they be flipping tables for kegs in Dublin and Berlin?
“Right now we are focusing our time and energy on our members in Tel Aviv. However we hope to open across the US soon, possibly the LA area and then NY, but Europe is also calling our name!”