Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, coffee shops were an essential part of many lives. Like restaurants, coffee shops were required by a Gov. Doug Ducey order to only provide to-go or delivery drinks and food from mid-March through May 10. Patrons were permitted to enjoy food and drinks in restaurants and coffee shops May 11, though with guidelines.

Yet West Valley residents have continued to frequent their favorite cafes—with one saying business is actually better than pre-pandemic.

 Other local coffee shops, such as Driftwood Coffee Co. in Peoria, saw a decline in business. This can be especially difficult for shops that attract customers because of their unique “vibe” and aesthetic. A Driftwood representative said sales picked up as soon as dining in was permitted.

Some local shops said customers showed their passion about supporting local businesses. Cabin Coffee Café  in Glendale saw customers returning a few weeks into the pandemic. Manager Janice Openshaw said, “Our customers tell us they want to see us open when everything is back to normal.”

Cafes that were better adapted to drive-thru and takeout orders have fared better during the pandemic. Café Bebida, located inside Casa Lucero in Goodyear, noted that after customers were aware they could safely place orders, business rebounded. 

“We were very fortunate to have a large, beautiful walk-up window for takeout that looks out on the Sonoran Desert,” said Deborah Huyer, Café Bebida’s manager.

“Although business slowed for a couple of weeks after restaurants were closed (for dining in) by executive order, we picked back up and actually did as much or more than we did before the COVID-19 closure.”

Many cafes reported fewer customers in the first few weeks of the pandemic. As customers were assured that takeout orders could be completed safely, business returned. Many noticed that patrons wanted to support these businesses through tough times. Some saw increases in the purchase of coffee beans and cold brews that customers could enjoy at home.

Larger chains are adapting to local guidelines.

“Connection and community are fundamental to humanity. As we gradually come out of isolation, people will continue to crave connection and crave a sense of community,” Starbucks president and CEO Kevin Johnson said in a May 21 letter to stores.

“Over the last week, we have now regained about 60-65% of prior year comparable U.S. store sales while reopening under modified operations and with reduced hours. 

“So that is our job now: to build a bridge to a future that—yes—will look different but that stays true to Starbucks’ mission and values,” Johnson wrote. 

“We will build it together, and it will carry us all to a better tomorrow for Starbucks and the communities we serve.”