Updated: Oct 9, 2020
Bart Styles opened Wild Roast Cafe—a “caffeinated community of artists and neighbors, brewing up something good”—in March 2019 in Hoover Alabama.
Q: Were you still able to operate your business during your local shutdown? A: As a relatively new business with a tight margin, we made the decision to shut down completely for around two months starting in late March. We did put donation links up on our website and in an email to our customers for both our business and for each of our baristas. It was really rough. But we did eventually qualify for both a PPP and the EIDL and reopened in late May. We could not have made it without our "caffeinated community" that kept us afloat through donations for much of the spring. Most of our customers were very understanding of how we navigated the shutdown.
Q: What phase of reopening is your area currently in? A: We are in a "safer at home" phase. But many people did not wear masks in public or in private businesses until it was mandated. But we put our employee health first and had already added touchless transactions, call-in/curbside orders, plastic barriers at the point of sale, socially-distanced seating, and mandatory masks for our employees very early on.
Q: As you reopen, what do you think are the most important things you and others can do to make it as successful as possible? A: Collect information on public health from a variety of reputable sources, put employee health first, talk to others in your industry, over-communicate to customers (emails, social media, etc), and ask employees for ideas on safety and cost-saving.
Q: How are you utilizing social media to support reopening? A: We wanted our customers to know what it would be like before they came in, so we did a livestream walking them through the new ordering process. We’ve continued with some of our more routine posts, but we have added some on new policies, etc.
Q: What’s been your biggest success during reopening? A: We have added a glass growler of cold brew coffee that people can trade out when they are done for a reduced price. That's a very popular item that we did not have before the shutdown.
Q: Is there anything that didn’t quite work? A: We have tried some livestream music entertainment to raise money for both ourselves and the artists, to varying success. We probably should have started doing those in April/May.
Q: Do you have a contingency plan for possible set-backs? A: We are protecting our cash flow in case we all need to go home and quarantine for two weeks if we have a positive case on our team.
Q: What advice would you give a business like yours as they work through reopening? A: Ask for help. Tell your customers and employees about the state of your business. Talk to other business owners. You are not alone.