The New York-based startup Spacious is creating coworking spaces in restaurants that are closed during the day. Founder Preston Pesek explains how it works.

In the buzzing New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn, over 2,000 restaurants don’t open until 6 PM. That’s 2,000 unused street-level spaces during daytime – a great potential, that was simply waiting to be recognized.

For Preston Pesek, cofounder of Spacious, it was the idea for founding business with a mission to identify and unlock spatial opportunities in cities.

The start-up’s idea is straight-forward but creative: During closing hours of restaurants, Spacious makes their unused locations available as coworking spaces for mobile workers.

This business model allows Spacious members to access attractive dining rooms all around the city and use them at an affordable rate. Members of the network pay a monthly membership fee of $95 and get unlimited access to the participating restaurants during daytime hours.

Spacious is a completely new phenomenon in the fast-developing coworking market. Unlike its competitors, the company does not own any spaces itself.

“We don’t have the advantage of a classic coworking space that is total under our control and provides 24/7 access to our customers,” admits Pesek. “But our price proposition is very compelling as Spacious leverages restaurant spaces that are already there.”

Spacious members using a restaurant as coworking space
Spacious members can work in dining rooms across the city.

A space hacking mission

Founded in 2016, Spacious currently has seven partner restaurants and is already registering thousands of check-ins per month. Another set of coworking locations in ten additional restaurants around New York City is in the pipeline for the next few months. Spacious is expecting to multiply its user base.

Pesek reveals plans for experiments with food and beverage services during the day. “Some participating restaurants are interested in creating lunch boxes for our members.”

The idea for Spacious emerged when Pesek and his cofounder and partner Chris Smothers were exploring street level retail. “We found out that mainly restaurants in very well-located areas are programmed very inefficiently,” says Pesek, who has a background in commercial real estate.

“The city is full of places that are unoccupied during periods of the day. We were looking at ways to unlock this urban potential and started our very own space hacking mission.”

Spacious members coworking in the restaurant la Sirena
Unused restaurant spaces become lively with coworkers.

A community of urban nomads

Pesek sees a major shift in the way urban citizens work. “Thanks to smartphones, laptops, and wireless internet, we now have the ability to be mobile and move from place to place within cities,” he elaborates.

“The future of work is not an office building where everything’s centralized, but much more of a cloud-based HQ where anyone can contribute. We think of Spacious as such a cloud-based coworking network.”

The members of the Spacious network are typical working nomads — a group of flexible urbanites working from a wide variety of places across the city. “Half of the Spacious users are people who are not in a traditional job or can work from anywhere,” says Pesek.

Although Spacious is not a coworking space in the traditional sense, Pesek is convinced it creates a community for its users. “When you get a whole bunch of independents, creatives and freelance workers in the same place, and you also layer people who have traditional careers, the synergies get really interesting,” Pesek explains.

What’s fundamentally different from a classic coworking space is that there is not just one community in one space,” he continues. “Spacious becomes a cosmopolitan community, in a certain sense.”


Spacious members use an empty restaurant as coworking space
Meetings or individual work – Spacious makes it possible.

A parasite hospitality business

Although many of Spacious’ clients are footloose, finding the right location is very important. “Spacious is mainly looking for very well-connected urban spots, mainly close to subway stations. We’re collecting data on where our customers need a location most and use it as a guide in our geographic rollout.”

The selection procedure for participating restaurants is set up carefully. Not every applicant fits the profile. “We look for a very good location, splendid interior design and a restaurant partner whose operation is conductive to what we want to do,” Pesek says.

“Our first partners were restaurants by well-known chefs such as Daniel Boulud and Mario Batali. We’re operating our own hospitality business alongside someone else’s. This means that there has to be a good mutual fit.” But Pesek and his team want to maintain a slow and steady approach to developing the project.

“We have a long list of folks in our inbox who want to partner with us, but we’re being strategic about where we open and which partners we do business with.”

For now, the next steps will be opening branches of Spacious in San Francisco, Los Angeles and in London. “Our business model is extremely flexible. Once we have a deal with a new partner, we can open within two weeks.”

Preston Pesek is cofounder of Spacious, a startup from New York that transforms unused restaurants into coworking spaces during the day. Pesek has a background in commercial real estate. For more information visit their website.