The Future of Work? Café Inc. Brings Co-working Space to Edina

Edina’s new co-working space, Cafe Inc., enhances opportunities for mobile workers.
Chet Funk, general manager of Cafe Inc., Edina's cutting-edge co-working space.

As the modern workforce transforms to suit ever-changing job descriptions and company objectives, workspaces are also getting a facelift. Many more people work from home or spend time away from the office than ever before. So, unlike the standard offices of generations past, 21st-century workspaces must accommodate an increasingly mobile workforce.

Thanks to high-speed Internet, Internet-based software, social media, tablets and other mobile devices, people can work effectively without being chained to an office desk all day. This is where Edina’s newest cutting-edge co-working space, Cafe Inc. comes in handy.

Cafe Inc. gives business professionals and entrepreneurs the opportunity to rent an alternative mobile workspace. Imagine a coffee shop, library or bookstore where you don’t have to fight over electrical outlets or worry about noise interrupting a business meeting—a place where productivity can flourish and not be hindered.

“Cafe Inc. combines the accessibility and energy of a public cafe, the professional amenities found in a progressive corporation, and the hospitality and ambience of your favorite airline club,” says Café. Inc. general manager Chet Funk.

Funk and Cafe Inc. founder and chairman Jeff O’Dell teamed up with partnering design firm Perkins+Will, to design a building to serve mobile workers better than any other environment. The result is a vibrant, contemporary atmosphere with wood and aluminum accents.

The 6,500-square-foot building, which opened February 13, is located off the corner of Interstate 494 and Highway 100. Café Inc. has a variety of co-working environments for members to choose from. Each is equipped with technological amenities. Members can meet with clients beside a cozy fireplace or work within the boundaries of private desk stations and conference rooms. Starting at $49 a month, memberships also include concierge services, an online reservation system, a self-serve mailing center, mobile printing and of course, secure high-speed wi-fi.

A little more than a third of the space at Cafe Inc. features a new fast-casual food concept called Maker’s Cafe, developed by the owners of Dunn Bros. Maker’s Cafe offers coffee, food, wine and a selection of craft beer to accommodate members’ refreshment needs during mealtimes or meetings.

Shannon Rusk, vice president of development and brokerage services for Oppidan Investment Co. in Minnetonka, plans to use the Edina space as a supplemental office option. “I have a full time office but like the idea of having an off-site place to work that is energetic and has a breakfast, lunch and happy hour concept for meetings close to home,” Rusk says.

Rusk also points out that Café Inc.’s inviting atmosphere can help job seekers network more effectively. With a wide variety of members, there is no telling what people or projects you may become connected to.

“Cafe Inc. has set out to become the place to get work done for the mobile workforce,” Funk says. “When choosing to meet and work in Cafe Inc.’s membership space, members will have full access to a professional environment designed to empower and impress.”

“We love the quote, ‘An idea is only as good as its implementation,’ ” Funk says. “This concept of how to serve the mobile workforce simply has not yet been implemented well until now.”

Edina is home to Café Inc.’s first location, but beyond this initial startup is a plan to build a network of locations around the Twin Cities metro area.

Cafe Inc.; 6 a.m-10 p.m.; 4940 W. 77th St.; 952.217.5825.

A History of Co-working
With the advent of computers, our increasingly mobile culture has helped facilitate the expansion of co-working environments.

1950: Development of the electronic computer begins.
1973: Motorola engineer and executive Martin Cooper makes the world’s first mobile telephone call.
1994: BellSouth markets the Simon Personal Communicator as the world’s first smartphone.
1995: The Internet is commercialized.
1999: The term “co-working” is first used by Bernie DeKoven to describe collaborative work supported by computer and new technologies of the day.
2005: Brad Neuberg opens the United States’ first casual co-working space, called the Hat Factory, in San Francisco.
2007: Apple introduces the iPhone.
2008: 160 co-working spaces are open throughout the world.
2012: More than 2,000 co-working spaces are open throughout the world.