Photo by Lucy Valeski
With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Illinois governor JB Pritzker ordered a lockdown on all nonessential businesses starting on Sunday, March 22 at 5 p.m. Restaurants stayed open for carryout and delivery.
Elmhurst local business Brewpoint Coffee serves coffees, teas and pastries, and there are three locations across town: the Lexicon, Founder’s and Workshop cafes. Brewpoint adapted their services in order to stay open after the lockdown. The Lexicon Cafe closed in tandem with the Elmhurst Public Library before the stay at home order was announced.
After the stay at home order was put into effect, Brewpoint made further temporary changes to their business. The Workshop Cafe was closed, while the Founder’s cafe, located on Park Ave, remained open by creating a walk-up window. Customers can order online, by phone or at the window. Brewpoint also developed an app allowing customers to order in advance to limit social interaction in the cafes.
“Brewpoint is always aware of current events and situations which is very important as a business,” frequent Brewpoint customer and junior Allie Sidio said. “It’s also important to show the community [the] changes that need to be made in order to keep each other safe and healthy. As a smaller business, Brewpoint has made many steps to stay open.”
Naturally, the spread of a pandemic can bring added stress to small business owners. They have to balance the financial needs of the company as well as the safety of their employees. For Brewpoint owner Melissa Villanueva, the main priority was keeping her team employed and safe. A part of that initiative included developing a “Brewpoint care package” in which all of the profits went to the Team Emergency Fund. This fund helps keep the Brewpoint team employed during the coronavirus crisis.
“From the beginning, we have talked about our values as a company to put people and the planet first,” Villanueva said. “In the wake of this COVID-19 crisis, we saw an abundance of support from our community and we believed, if we had the ability, our team should reap the benefit of what we have built and should partake in the support we have received.”
The Brewpoint care package includes two eight-ounce bags of coffee, non-dairy milk and syrup. All local delivery is free. One hundred retail and care packages have been sold since the start of the initiative.
Small businesses hope to benefit from the new two trillion dollar federal government relief bill. Prior to the package, the government was offering low-interest loans; however, Villanueva plans to avoid taking out loans since the business has low-margins.
“Here are the things I would find extremely helpful from the government: grant programs correlating with keeping a certain percentage of staff employed, relief programs to small business tenants through the form of mortgage relief for building owners who help their tenants and tax deferment until businesses can open at full capacity,” Villanueva said.
Though the coronavirus pandemic presented many challenges for local businesses, Brewpoint focuses on staying flexible and continuing to sell coffee to the Elmhurst community. Online orders have increased, and customers are taking advantage of free deliveries. While it is important to practice social distancing, supporting small businesses during this uncertain time is also essential to help the community. Brewpoint offers safe solutions for their employees and customers.
“Brewpoint has been a major social gathering place in Elmhurst for a while now,” freshman Alina Hayes said. “[It seems] to be a favorite spot for many people of all ages throughout Elmhurst and has always been a sort of sanctuary to relax and chat with friends. This has been a challenging time for everyone, but Brewpoint has been quick to adapt and are continuing to do their part in our community.”