continued On top of that, Neal says, "We sell snacks and sodas and energy drinks. And we're going to have a coffee cart outside soon. Then we have a retail section where we sell all sorts of video games, new and used. We sell DVDs, we sell everything back to old-school Nintendo; the hardware and the games. Because of the different areas of the business, we've been able to make business more profitable."
Asked how profitable Club LAN is, he answers, "We're fine. We'll be here a while. We're not doing exceedingly well, but we're fine."
Jorge Santacruz, the chief financial officer of Benefon Mexico, a telecommunications consulting firm, agrees with Palomino that Baja, for the first time, is going to see more Internet cafés closing than opening. Sitting in the open-air lobby of the Hotel Camino Real, the 42-year-old, dressed in khaki slacks and a tweed jacket over a green striped dress shirt, says Internet cafés could be a good business in Tijuana "if someone does it in the European style. Take the easyInternetcafé brand. It's in London, Prague, and other places in Europe. When you arrive at the easyInternetcafé store in London, there are two floors and 1000 PCs inside. There's a prepayment machine you pay at, and it gives you a ticket. It has a code that you take to your PC. Nobody here is doing it that way. All our Internet cafés have five, three, seven PCs without real money invested. They don't have good furniture, they don't have good speed, they don't sell anything else, they don't have professional advice. If someone invested not too much, maybe $250,000 in a good place in the Zona Río, with a good image -- an attractive sign, first-quality machines, open 24 hours -- they could do huge business. But you can't find an Internet café like that in Tijuana because nobody is investing real money in them. Everybody says, 'I have $5000 in my pocket. I will open an Internet café. I'll buy four used machines, no antivirus, no PlayStations, no gaming.' That's another thing. They need cross-selling; they need to mix and match the services. You can offer Internet, you can offer gaming, you can offer some fast food, you can offer cappuccinos."
Santacruz believes that with such a store in Tijuana's tony Zona Río, "You'd get your investment back in three years," he says. Asked why nobody in Tijuana's investor class has tried it, Santacruz suppresses a chuckle. "Because they prefer to open restaurants and bars. If you say, 'Let's open an Internet café for $250,000,' they'll say, 'Too much. I'll open another restaurant.' "