Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse in Travelers Rest decided to serve drive-thru or carry-out orders from a van in the parking lot of their shop. They said that business is still going well.
Coffee shops are adored for their cozy atmospheres and fresh brews. In the global coronavirus pandemic, the businesses have been hard hit as people stay at home and practice social distancing.
Many corporately-owned coffee shops, like Starbucks, have temporarily closed their doors at most locations. Locally owned coffee shops are trying to avoid closing. These coffee shops are eliminating dine-in options to prevent the spread of coronavirus and trying to find new ways to sell their coffee.
“Our current realities are so different from what’s normal,” said Nick Hauser, the owner of Indah Coffee shops in Columbia. “We’re just trying to get creative and figure out so much of this.”
Hauser closed down the Main Street Indah location after losing foot traffic from the 5,000-6,000 business professionals who are now working from home instead of popping in for a cappuccino or expresso at his downtown shop. His Cottontown location is still open for deliveries and pick-up services but with shortened hours. Hauser started a GoFundMe for his employees to help them cover lost wages.
Downtown Greenville’s Coffee Underground has been a successful and popular coffee shop for 25 years, but owner Dana Lowie is worried about her business now more than ever. Her sales have decreased by more than 65% and she worries about the negative impacts on her staff.
“We have limited hours and decreased workers’ hours significantly,” Lowie said. “Although we normally have many takeout orders, our concept is socialization.”
Though this is a hit for Lowie, she is confident Coffee Underground will survive the hardships and said, “It sucks for the small businesses that won’t make it, and my heart goes out to them.”
C3 Coffee Co. opened its Las Vegas, Nevada, location about three months ago. After building two successful coffee shops in Conway near Myrtle Beach, managers Mills Eddy and Jesse McAllister moved to Las Vegas with the company. After a short period of being open in Las Vegas, they are back to relying on online sales of their freshly roasted coffee beans.
“Coffee shops start off slow. Just the nature of all the equipment you use is super expensive; like an espresso machine is the price of a car and that’s just one thing you have to buy,” said Eddy. “You’re really only selling things for $4, so it’s difficult to turn a profit at first.”
C3 is a non-profit coffee shop that sends all of its profits to charities. Eddy hopes they can open their doors again soon to support organizations fighting coronavirus.
Tandem Creperie and Coffeehouse in Travelers Rest is doing well and experiencing some surprising benefits despite the current climate. With the luxury of having time to do some long-awaited renovations inside the building, Tandem moved its ordering system outside to a yellow, 70’s style Volkswagon van.
“It’s going well, not as busy as it was in the shop but still pretty steady throughout the day,” said Peter Sherer, a barista at Tandem. “We’ve been meaning to do it [renovations] for a couple years and then it just worked out, so perfect timing in a way.”
Sherer hasn’t seen any cuts in employee hours and said he’s “just thankful to be able to work and pay the bills right now.”
Hauser said he is optimistic and hopes that business can get back to normal in three weeks. But he expects to face significant loss with the lack of students coming to Indah now that UofSC switched to online classes for the semester. He normally budgets for a 15-20% loss in sales during UofSC’s spring break, but now expects to see “an extended summer” for his business.
“To not have the students back until mid-August now is a pretty substantial impact to every restaurant and every coffee shop,” Hauser said. “That is a pretty significant economic impact.”
He said this would have been one of Indah’s busiest times of the year, barring coronavirus, and one that would’ve sustained the business for the rest of the year.
A sign outside of Tandem guides customers to use the drive-thru van to encourage social distancing.
Barista Peter Sherer fills drink orders inside of a renovated van instead of inside the Tandem shop while the pandemic is in full swing.
C3 Coffee Co. focuses on selling its bags of coffee online during the pandemic rather than opening its physical store for business. Credit @c3coffeeco
C3 Coffee Co. in Las Vegas opened 3 months ago and is struggling to cope with shutting down due to coronavirus. Credit: @c3coffeeco