Coffee shop owners point to hard work, drive-thru window, as keys to surviving pandemic

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 6:56 PM CDT
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CORALVILLE, Iowa (KCRG) - Most restaurants across the state were forced to close their doors for about two months, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but they could operate if they did carry-out, or had a drive-thru.

For Dunn Brothers Coffee in Coralville, its ownership said having a drive-thru window could have saved their business.

DeAngelo Seay, one of the co-owners, knows well: preparing coffee is only part of the job at the store. He and his wife Alexandra own the shop, along with two others.

The Seays are used to people stopping in for their brewed beverages, making their shop a part of a daily routine for many. The owners admitted, however, due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, things changed when they were forced to close the door to customers in March.

“Sales were okay that day, then the next day they just plummeted," Alexandra said. "And it was so unfortunate I actually cried. We had to lay off all our staff and it was just my husband and I working day in, day out, so our staff had a place to come back to.”

For two months, the Seays worked side by side, for a total of more than 70 hours a week. And with no other option outside of their drive-thru, the entire business was forced to rely on a sliding glass window.

“It was tough," DeAngelo said. "But at the same time, I think what helped me was the conversations we had in the window.”

At a time when all businesses are under pressure, it means a little more to the Seays.

“I had a baby literally two months before, so I was supposed to be on maternity leave," Alexandra said. "It was just a crazy time for us and our family.”

But they credit their survival to hard work, a loudspeaker, and a short trip around the corner to their sliding glass window.

“Usually in a drive-thru, it’s fast-paced, you’re moving," DeAngelo said. "This gave us a chance to slow down with each customer and talk with the customer.”

To the Seays, it brought time to reflect.

“Even if there’s times at the beginning where it was a little struggle, I didn’t show it. Well, I don’t think I showed it anyways, but just be a leader for my family," DeAngelo said. "And it doesn’t matter what comes against us, that if we stay positive and stay focused, we’ll get through it.”

Making their drive-thru window a chance to move forward.

“I’m just grateful, we made it,” Alexandra said.

Copyright 2020 KCRG. All rights reserved.

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