State of the Shop #001

I realize that without the coffee shop being open, I don’t get to interact with nearly as many people to keep them updated. I’m sure there are a good number of you that are curious as to what’s going on behind the scenes at The Caffeinery being that the retail shop has been closed for more than a month at this point. I figured my own personal blog might be a good medium to provide some updates.

Currently, there’s a lot of push for people to start opening the economy back up at the federal level and I’m sure soon we’ll see that coming from states as well. I’m sure a lot of you are curious as to what this means for us. So let’s talk about it…

I’d like to start things off by letting you all know that we’re fine. We’re healthy and we’re staying safe. We’ve been adhering to all the CDC guidelines and haven’t exposed ourselves much during this whole thing. In fact, I think we’ve spent more time actually caring for ourselves during this time than we have in the past 6 years. We’re actually getting sleep, exercising, and eating well. We’ve taken this time to do a much-needed re-evaluation of our needs and priorities. Thankfully, for us, the roastery has been able to keep us afloat during these times. It’s made it possible to keep things from grinding to a halt. That being said, Lauren and I are still working as we have no choice because we’re essentially all that’s left of the company at this point. We furloughed all of our employees pretty early on in an effort to ensure that they have some form of steady income during these unpredictable times. So there’s that. It’s also our focus at this point to ensure that both Lauren and I stay safe and healthy because if either one of us gets sick for any extended amount of time, it puts the whole operation at risk.

For those of you that are holding on to the idea that things will all go back to normal as soon as this quarantine is lifted, I regret to inform you that things are never going to be the same. In the next 3-6 months, you’re going to see tons of places call it quits. Based on the information I’ve seen, the collective WE are essentially 8 months to a year away from the earliest vaccine (and that’s if all goes well). The government is relaxing the rules to encourage people to start opening. They aren’t doing that because they think it’s the smartest thing for health… They are doing that because taxes aren’t coming in and they know they can’t keep printing money. They are essentially just telling people to fend for themselves. We are all essentially on our own and being thrown out to fend for ourselves while they attempt to spin the narrative. The whole… We need to let people get back to their normal lives and businesses makes little sense. Sure, go back to opening your businesses; but we need you to do things entirely differently while also understanding that most businesses have already been dealt a mortal wound.

We are going to continue to see safety and health restrictions on coffee shops and restaurants in the form of distancing and occupancy regulations. Coffee shops are communal gathering places that fly in the face of these new safety guidelines. To pretend that they don’t and try and re-invent a space set up for communal gathering and aesthetic is silly. When hospitality businesses open back up they will have reduced occupancy by half (if not more). So then, how do you pay your rent and labor costs with half the seating (or no seating)? It means prices have to go up significantly. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing… In fact, it’s been a long time coming for most of us in the hospitality industry that have been competing on price rather than quality of product, service, and environment. This is further complicated for smaller businesses like us. You see, the government just thinks small businesses will snap their fingers and all of the employees will be back and ready to go. WRONG. We already have a significant amount of employees that will not be returning due to a number of circumstances created by the pandemic. So, at this point… the coffee shop would require us to hire and train new staff on top of already managing the roasting facility that continues to grow. Also, if we open back up and allow the public back into the shop… it doesn’t matter what safety precautions we are taking… We are all subject to the lowest common denominator coming through the door. Prior to the pandemic we would have people come in with their kids and tell us they had just come from the doctor and they were diagnosed with STREP throat; but that they are psyched because they were able to come into the shop instead of be at work! This is an airborne illness and the coffee shop is a large SHARED AIR space. This essentially means that no matter how far apart you stand, if someone comes in and coughs, everyone is exposed. We have multiple people on our team that are considered “at risk” and I don’t feel comfortable putting them in harms way. So, with the government saying that everything is fine; they are full of shit at the moment. We will not be opening our doors to the retail cafe on May 1st for a lot of these reasons.

It’s all good. We’re fine. The cafe is affordable to keep closed for a while. We are going to keep it in a state of suspended animation until there is a time that we can boot it up properly. It’s the responsible thing for us to do to preserve the shop for the long road ahead. To open up the shop while schools are out, businesses are encouraging working from home, and etc… You see, the shop is expensive to operate; primarily because of product and people. That space isn’t set up for carry-out and curbside. It never will be. If it was something that would work, we would have implemented it prior to the pandemic. It would just lose us money (as most of these businesses will find out). Right now we’re researching a mobile operation that we can set up that could allow us to provide cafe service to our beloved community while also preserving the healthy and safety of our staff and minimizing overhead costs during these unprecedented times. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted as we move forward. We love and miss all of you! I hope you’re all safe and healthy.

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