CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Nearly a year after Central Coffee Co. temporarily closed its Charlotte storefronts, the coffee shop owners are looking toward the future.
When Louisa and Jimmy Kleto, the owners of Central Coffee Co., temporarily closed their Plaza Midwood and South End coffee shops on March 19, 2020, they weren’t sure what the future would look like.
“When we initially closed, we didn’t know if we were going to be able to reopen,” Jimmy said.
The owners immediately started adapting and changing their business model, with innovative ideas like delivering coffee straight to customers’ doorsteps, selling frozen scones that could be made at home, and using an app for online orders.
When asked what the last year has been like, Louisa described it as “rough.” Jimmy added, “It’s been something else, that’s for sure, definitely the most challenging year of, I think, either of our careers, especially in shop ownership.”
The couple said thanks to their loyal customers, business grants, and the PPP loans they have been able to make it through the slow times.
The coffee shops reopened for to-go orders on May 9, 2020, but the owners chose not to reopen their dining rooms to customers as a safety precaution.
“We’re living with the fact that we’re losing business that way, but we’re not going to take this lightly,” Jimmy said. “We’re going to be serious about it. We’re going to be safe, and we look out for our staff first and foremost.”
Knowing what they know now about the pandemic, the couple said there was not anything they would have changed or done differently.
“We talked about from the very beginning, we were not going to risk any of our employees’ safety,” Jimmy said. “Their health and safety is priority number one, so even before there was… even the suggestion of wearing masks, we advised all of our staff to wear masks and gloves at all times while working.”
The Kletos said they are now waiting for their staff to be vaccinated before they reopen the dining rooms to customers.
“We want to make sure that our staff has been vaccinated before we open the doors just so that we don’t risk their safety,” Louisa said. “Because while people may be coming in and interacting with like two, maybe three people at a time, when we open our doors, they’ll be interacting with a hundred people a day, if not more.”
As for the future, the Kletos said the last year put a lot of their business moves on hold. They said they are looking forward to normalcy and the possibility of expanding their business.