Cafe Society

How Denver Coffee Shops Are Responding to the Coronavirus Crisis

How Denver Coffee Shops Are Responding to the Coronavirus Crisis
Courtesy of LulaRose General
Although business is, unfortunately, far from usual for restaurants and bars in Denver, many are trying to make business work as long as possible by offering walk-up, call ahead and delivery options (see our growing list of Denver and Boulder updates). 

Because the drastic order to close dining rooms and bars came quickly, there was little time to plan. Some coffee shops are maintaining service for takeout only, while others are closing. Both locations of Crema (at 2862 Larimer Street and inside the Denver Central Market) decided to close completely for two weeks and will re-evaluate at that time opening for just takeout. The company has set up a donation page/tip pool for its baristas and other employees, who, overnight, were left without jobs. While the company isn't selling coffee for now, it wants customers to shop online for coffee beans from Sweet Bloom Coffee Roasters using purchase code "CREMA." See Crema's lastest updates at @crema_dnvr.

SloHi Coffee, at 4426 West 29th Avenue, is also temporarily closing, according to its Instagram feed: "SloHi Coffee is closing after 2 p.m. 3/17 through Friday 3/20. This will give us time to assess the ever changing landscape and move forward with the appropriate business plan." The cafe offered discounts on its perishable items prior to the closure, adding "Help support us by buying us out. And by buying gift cards for future use. Love you all!"

Huckleberry also closed temporarily, shutting down all of its retail locations through March 22, but possibly longer. But like many Denver coffee companies, Huckleberry roasts and sells its own beans, which are available for purchase online. You can also leave a tip for Huckleberry baristas directly at the online store.

Some cafes that decided to close completely offered what they could to help their neighbors first. Rosebud Cafe, at 90 Pennsylvania Street, offered all of its perishables for free to families in need before closing for the duration of the mandate.

Seating inside Rivers and Roads is off limits (just like everywhere else), but the coffee shop is open for takeout. - COURTESY OF RIVERS AND ROADS
Seating inside Rivers and Roads is off limits (just like everywhere else), but the coffee shop is open for takeout.
Courtesy of Rivers and Roads
Lost City closed both its RiNo and Cap Hill locations for now. In the meantime, they've partnered with Denver Food Rescue, Focus Points Family Resource Center and the meal delivery service Bondadosa to cook and deliver free meals to vulnerable and low-income folks impacted by coronavirus in the Denver metro area. Lost City has pledged to deliver a minimum of 3,000 free meals in the next week through its own funding starting Thursday, March 18, and has the capacity and volunteers ready to cook and deliver up to approximately 85,000 meals per week from its Capitol Hill kitchen.

"Like most restaurants in the world right now, we don't know the extent of damage to our own business yet," says Lost City owner Michael Graham. "But we will do our best to help our neighbors facing anxiety about where their next meal will come from as long as possible." As of now, he says the plan is to reopen the Cap Hill location, at 1373 Grant Street, with limited hours and carryout options, but says that is subject to change.

Many cafes did not have delivery or online purchasing options prior to the shutdown and scrambled to get their online stores up and running. In addition to food and beverage options, Weathervane Cafe, at 1725 East 17th Avenue, uploaded all of its retail merchandise to its online store.

Aurora's Jubilee Coffee Co., at 1452 Kenton Street (Jubilee just opened its second location, at 1075 Park Avenue West, last month), has teamed up with Rebel Bread to offer carryout and curbside delivery, which you can order in advance on the coffee company's website. Lula Rose General Store, at 3434 East Colfax Avenue, did the same, teaming up with Good Bread Bakeshop to offer curbside delivery during limited hours. See details on how to order and what times you can come by on Lula Rose's Instagram page.

JoeMaxx Coffee, at 869 Sante Fe Drive and 3550 West 38th Avenue, was operating both locations for carryout and delivery through a third party, but made the decision to close the 38th Avenue location until further notice beginning Saturday, March 21.

In addition to its normal menu items, Rivers and Roads, at 2539 Bruce Randolph Avenue, created bags of mixes for some of its pastries to take and bake at home.

Many cafes are limiting their hours for the time being while they adjust to new business models, so if you are venturing out and want to support local business, it's a good idea to check social media or call ahead. The landscape is ever-changing, with cafes operating on a day-to-day basis as they determine whether or not it's viable or safe for them to continue, but all with these messages: The health of the community is what's most important — and support local, if you can.
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Danielle Krolewicz likes a good cup of coffee, a good book and a good deal — not necessarily in that order.