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Small businesses seek solutions to quarantine restrictions

Missions Coffee has switched to a drive-thru only system due to COVID-19 restrictions. Photo by Sonora Slater

A huge part of small-town life is community, something Bruins from Grass Valley, Auburn, and Nevada City have always proved to be true. This means being there for each other when times are hard, and supporting others while resting safe in the knowledge that if it were you who was in need, those same people would help you. 

The changes COVID-19 brought to the world have caused suffering in one form or another to almost everyone across the globe, but as far as the economic impacts, small businesses are among those being hit hardest by new regulations. Locally, this means such beloved locations as Pour Choice Coffee, Lazy Dog Chocolateria, Missions Coffee, and more. So how can students and families show a sense of community in continuing to support these landmarks, while still staying safe and healthy? Business owners have come up with several creative solutions to this dilemma.

On March 16, Pour Choice Coffee announced on their Instagram page that they would be closing down the cafe temporarily. 

“It’s with a very heavy heart that we made the decision to temporarily close the cafe today,” they said. “After a long week of chasing new regulations and implementing new products and procedures, we reached the breaking point. The only safe and logical thing left to do is to close our doors and pray this season passes quickly. The hospitality industry will be hit hard by this pandemic, as our perishable products spoil, customers fall out of their spending routines, and our precious 23 employees scrape by on UI [unemployment] and life without tips. As always, we look to our community… We are grateful for you, hurting for you, here with you. We will stand shoulder to shoulder soon and reclaim our space in each other’s daily lives.”

However, they soon announced plans to keep at least pieces of their business up and running throughout the shut-down. On March 11, they opened an online store called the Pour Choice Mercantile, complete with apparel and gift cards. On March 20, they expanded the capacity of that site to have even more functionality. 

“We can’t be with you, so we’re coming to you,” they said. “Our mission is always to serve our community any way we can. With so many people unable to leave their homes and all the overwhelmed grocery stories, we decided it’s time to tap into our resources and offer a solution to our local community. Our Pour Choice Mercantile is here to help. Featuring rice, beans, toilet paper, eggs, butter, local produce, and meats. You place the order from your home, and choose either curbside pick-up or $10 delivery from Grass Valley to Roseville. Our foods are grown locally, delivered by our suppliers @produceexpress, packed up by our re-hired kitchen staff and delivered straight to you. No more picked over shelves or items that have been touched by too many hands. We are so grateful to offer you a Safer Choice!”

Freshman Brynna Vasquez said that her family has utilized this opportunity, also mentioning how much she loves the place itself. 

“I didn’t go [to Pour Choice] too often before quarantine, but when I did I loved it,” she said. “I love their drinks, especially their iced chai, and I also miss and love how sweet everyone who works there is. My family has ordered this package with groceries from them which was super awesome.”

On April 17, they reopened the cafe for take-out orders, which can be placed through mobile order on their website. 

Other businesses are finding similar, minimal contact solutions. For example, Sophomore Tim Rice’s family owns Missions Coffee, and said that they’ve switched to drive-thru only. He encouraged students to take advantage of these safer options in order to support businesses. 

“ [We] miss the people, [but] we are adjusting by only having the drive-thru open,” he said. 

Meanwhile, other businesses are simply limiting capacity to ensure social distancing is possible. Senior Brinley Jeffers worked at Lazy Dog Chocolateria before the quarantine, and explained their modified procedures. 

“I am not working at the moment,” she said. “We have essential personnel working. It is take-out only. But I did hear we are letting 5 people at a time in the shop… The people I work with are literally my family. And I’m sad that I don’t get to see them as much anymore due to quarantine.”

Sophomore Makenna Hensley also expressed her love for Lazy Dog, and talked about why she is currently unable to visit.  

“My family doesn’t want to leave the house to get things unless we really need it,” she said. “I live with my grandparents, so it’s risky going places right now. Before quarantine, I went to Lazy Dog with my friends whenever it was warm out, or we were just taking a walk around the town, so somewhat often. My favorite thing about Lazy Dog is probably just all the memories I have going there with my friends.”

Pour Choice posted a message that likely represents the feeling of all business owners during this tough time, but also encouraging everyone that this is not the end. 

“As entrepreneurs, we pour everything we’ve got into our business, employees, products, and communities,” they said. “Closing the door on all that and going home to mandated isolation is a soul-sucking feeling. Tonight, we are holding our loved ones close and remembering what really matters most! Sending all our love to you tonight. You are not alone, we are all in this together, and will make it through, together! We have lots of big ideas brewing, and can’t wait to share them with you in the coming days!”

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Small businesses seek solutions to quarantine restrictions