Despite various bakeries, the search for a "hang-out" spot with coffee and something to nibble has proven disappointing for several Sunset Park residents. Favorites like Gran Via have only counter seating (but many people choose to "hang-out" anyway), bakeries on 8th Avenue are very busy and rushed, and seating at many other places (like Angel's Bakery) is cramped.
Another need has turned up more consistently as well: Room to spread out and enjoy free WiFi (it's short for Wireless Fidelity, but really means you can check your email). These amenities are a necessity for those who freelance and/or work at home. Personally, I'm still paranoid about sending my information through the airwaves in public (picture Mike TeeVee floating through the air in tiny fragments), but many people are much more savvy and trusting than I. And most people are more with it than I am - meaning they have a laptop. I prefer the bulky joys of a desktop.
Many residents of our fair neighborhood don't want to patronize Park Slope Tea Lounges and Ozzie's. They don't even want to travel the shorter distance to Roots or Has Beans in Greenwood Heights. They want to spend their money and time here! So, where can one go in Sunset Park for a good cup of coffee, a snack or meal, and some computer time?
Well, if you don't want an internet cafe (of which there are several in Chinatown), the friendly folks at Brooklynian.com have some suggestions that breakdown into two distinct categories: Room to spread out and not get chased away and Free WiFi (plus some room to spread out and not get chased away).
So I'll throw in my suggestion for Room to Spread with WiFi: The Sunset Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library at 4th Avenue and 51st Street. It can get crowded, but the tables serve as good spots for your laptop. Sans WiFi, Puebla's back area (5th and 39th) is usually very empty any time except for lunch hours. The tortas are enough to have for lunch and dinner. Starlight Ice Cream, on 8th and 44th, has plenty of room at their tables as well.
Other options offered up by members of Brooklynian and other neighbors are Eclipse on 4th and 45th, Los 3 Petrillos on 4th and 39th, and Dunkin Donuts on 3rd and 35th. Georges Diner on 5th and 57th has a huge menu and lots of space. Just don't go on a weekend morning/early afternoon. And don't forget the 24 hour McDonald's on 4th and 37th. I'd REALLY avoid that when school lets out. All have lots of room to spread out, food/drink options, and apparently friendly attitudes to those who sit and work for a while.
None has WiFi access as of yet. Also, a couple of caveats include that Eclipse is more of a restaurant, so choose off hours. Los 3 Petrillos can get loud due to the jukebox, but mornings and afternoons are quiet. Some say that food options are overpriced. Also, the Dunkin Donuts can get a little hairy later at night.
Places with WiFi include Sunset Park Donuts and Diner on 5th Avenue and 39th and Maria's on 5th and 38th. There is a warning about cockroaches with the donuts and that Maria's can get crowded. Also, the WiFi at Maria's is password protected, so you have to ask.
Places that have been overlooked? Other suggestions for sitting down with some work (paper or computer)? Other free WiFi that are underutilized?