Shanghaiist was shopping for bikes along Xiangyang Lu when, tired and bedraggled, we saw, like a mirage in the desert, a sign that promised exactly what we were craving at the moment: Illy.
This is how we discovered Zurigo. Zurigo is a bit different from both the hipster enclaves where everyone stares at their laptops and stuffs their white earbuds way into their ears in order to pretend that they don’t know you when in fact, they all know you just as you all know them. It’s also different from certain corporate coffee chains. In fact, we were a bit baffled by the industrial chic and loungey look of the place. The computer at the cash register is a bright white iMac, the walls and décor are largely green, the floors are grey cement, and couches, black leather. In the back was a section with Ikea type furniture — long wood tables, the kind that you’d find in offices — very un-café. There were also, mysteriously, curtains that could be used to section off the desks.
The owner of Zurigo is Tim, a Swede who spent seven years living in Zurich and where he found inspiration for what would become Zurigo. Tim says that Zurich is a cosmopolitan city where people experiment with ideas like combining coffee lounges and work spaces. The ‘work space’ half of the Zurigo concept is the free wireless internet, the large work tables, as well as printers, faxes and lockers (for members) where you can store your computer and other valuables when you need to step out. The curtains can give you the privacy you need for a small meeting — projectors make slide shows and presentations a possibility, as well.
They get the food — pasta, sandwiches, etc. — from a caterer, and we haven’t tried it. We did have a Caffe Fredo, a chilled espresso in a cocktail glass with a slice of lemon. Like all espressos, it was short and sweet, but not a bad choice for a cold caffeine boost on a summer afternoon. Another thing we liked was that the prices are moderate — Starbucks range, more or less — but they use good coffee and they employ people that know how to make it, which you ought to factor into the price.
We don’t know what this place would look like crowded — being the new kid on the block, that probably isn’t going to be a problem just yet. We mention this because part of what makes Zurigo nice is that it’s spacious: cafes tend to go for small tables, which make it hard to work if you’ve got a laptop, newspapers, magazines, briefcase and other things that you need to have accessible.
You can check out their website here. They’ve got a news feed that tells you about both existing and new Zurigo offers — for example, their new breakfast special of a croissant, muffin and coffee — or, for those who are actually there to work, practical information about RSS readers.
Zurigo Work Space & Coffee Lounge, 365 Xiang Yang Nan Lu (襄阳南路365号), Tel: 6431 4925
Photo from lapsaptong’s Flickr page.