Before there was the Apple Store that we know and love today, there was the Apple Cafe — well, almost. On November 12, 1996, Apple announced plans to open a chain of cybercafes around the globe. State-of-the-art, even by today’s standards, Apple Cafes promised health-conscious food (served up via a high-tech ordering system), video conferencing with neighboring diners, and on-demand access of movies and music videos. A screenshot from an old promo gives us a few clues as to how some of this might have worked.
On November 11, 1996, one day before the official announcement, Landmark Entertainment Group artists finished painting interior and exterior renderings — beauty shots — of the proposed first Apple Cafe in its Los Angeles location. Small sections and tiny black and white copies of these renderings can be found online and in the book “Apple Confidential 2.0” (page 272). The actual paintings, though, which are in my personal collection, are breathtaking — and I’d like to share them with you as best I can.
Sadly, Apple was in poor financial shape in 1996, and the licensee pulled out before that first Apple Cafe was opened. But the Apple Cafe still lives on for us in these fascinating images.