The man behind The CoffeeHouse in Paintsville, Kentucky, knows what it means to struggle during the Covid-19 pandemic — so he decided to treat those on the front lines to free coffee for a month.
Owner Kyle Melvin bought the shop in January of 2020, just months before the pandemic hit, with a mission statement of “coffee, community, and connection.”
Melvin told CNN he got a good feel for how the business would run before the whole world was turned upside down by Covid-19. Somehow through the ups and downs of the pandemic, he continued to adapt and survive — just him and a part-time worker.
“I had Covid at the end of July, beginning of August … but other than that we haven’t closed one time,” Melvin said.
“We have adapted in every way we possibly can.”
Melvin said business was slowing down in November, so he had a conversation with his landlord, Wade Smith, about the situation — and that set the whole plan in motion.
“He gave the idea that … in lieu of me paying him rent (in January) he would allow me to keep that money … and we would extend (the money) as an act of kindness for the front-line workers in our area,” said Melvin.
“The intention was any front-line worker — nurse, doctor, a first responder of any kind — and small business owners who have been impacted by it, could come get a free drink.”
He started offering a free cup of Joe, or any drink on the menu, toward the end of December, but now that word is out he’s decided to continue the gesture through the end of January, he said.
“I don’t just want to have good drinks, I want to also be a real part of our community and focus on making connections with all the customers that come into our shop. This has allowed us to really capitalize on the mission we already aim to pursue,” he said.
“Being a part of the community and making connections with people right now, what that looks like, is intentional kindness.”
The promotion also hits particularly close to home for Melvin.
“I take a very particular joy and thrill at seeing the community come into the coffee shop,” he said.
“My dad is a first responder, and his co-workers will come down rather frequently to support me, and they were particularly thankful because they always pay for their coffee.”
Melvin said one of his favorite moments was when some police officers came in for a break during their shift to enjoy a free cup of coffee.
“I was really thankful that my landlord, wants us as a business, to do well, and allowed this idea to come to fruition and we could use this to become even more a part of the community,” said Melvin.