//Business Unusual

Business Unusual

By Dave Fountinelle | dave@fresnoflyer.com

It would be an understatement to say that Adam Alkurdi has had a rough first month of business. After spending most of the last year remodeling, installing equipment, and stocking up on supplies, Alkurdi finally opened Maverick’s Coffee Shop and Juice Bar in Lemoore. Back when news about the coronavirus was little more than a blip on the radar. Between savvy social media promotion and a lot of positive word-of-mouth from satisfied customers, Maverick’s was off to a great start. About a week later, the shop held its official grand opening, and business continued to gain momentum. A week after that, however, Alkurdi faced closing his doors as statewide Shelter in Place orders closed bars, clubs, restaurants, and coffee shops all over California.

“It’s a terrible situation for anyone,” Alkurdi says, “I would have liked to have opened after everything resolves. However, we are taking this very seriously, like most people.”

Even a well-established and successful small business can be devastated by an unforeseen catastrophic event, i.e., fire, flood, or earthquake. But COVID-19 is something the whole world seemed utterly unprepared for, not just small businesses. It has presented a unique and extreme set of circumstances that threatens to take down the entire global economy. Maverick’s Coffee Shop and Juice Bar had set sail in February to clear skies that almost immediately turned into a category five hurricane.

Alkurdi had to figure out a way to adapt his walk-in only coffee shop and juice bar to a “no walk-ins allowed” coffee shop and juice bar to comply with the statewide order. And to do it fast, or this would be a very short-lived grand opening.

“We adapted by quickly, switching to a pick-up only system. With help from Poppinpay, I developed a custom app that our customers can use to order ahead and we bring their orders out to their cars. We also converted our parking area into a ‘park and order’ space, similar to an old drive-in restaurant,” Alkurdi explains.

The app is similar to those used by most chain restaurants. However, they haven’t been nearly as popular with independent eateries, especially in smaller communities. That is changing rapidly with statewide dining room closures. Developers like Poppinpay are helping small businesses create customer-friendly ordering apps that allow the convenience of virtual ordering. This way, businesses stay competitive and able to meet customer demand.

By swiftly adapting to the unique circumstances created by the COVID-19 epidemic, Maverick’s Coffee Shop and Juice Bar is joining the thousands of other small businesses all over the valley that are utilizing tech solutions to weather the storm and stay afloat.

“It’s not enough just to come up with ways to continue serving our customers. We also have to ensure we are taking all the necessary precautions, to go above and beyond the current safety and sanitation measures. We have always maintained the highest standards in keeping our store, equipment, and serving areas clean and sanitary. Still, we have elevated those standards tenfold since reopening.”

After each order, everything is wiped down and disinfected. When available, the staff even provides hand sanitizer for customers. And the 6-foot rule is strictly enforced for the customers waiting outside.

Still, the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic are unlike anything most small business owners have or will ever experience. Short-term fixes can keep the doors open for a few weeks, even months. But, how viable are these solutions in the long-term?

“It’s hard to say how all of this will change the way we do business once things start to return to normal,” Alkurdi shares. “But I will say that Maverick’s Coffee Shop and Juice Bar will always be fully compliant with all safety and sanitation measures. Our customers are our number one priority. Our message to the public is that we will always put the safety of our customers first. It means a lot when our customers post on social media about how clean everything is and how it makes them feel good about ordering from us. And, of course, how delicious our drinks are.”

Adam Alkurdi has also been fortunate to have a landlord who’s working with him on his lease during this time.

“They’ve been great to me and so helpful. I don’t know if I would have been able to keep the doors open without their willingness to work with me. I’m very thankful for that.”

Support from the Chamber of Commerce has been great as well.

“They have been very supportive with respect to operations, and several members have been using our drive-up ordering, which is awesome.”

So far, the response from the public to Maverick’s “lockdown adjustment” has been overwhelmingly positive. In the short time they’ve been open, Maverick’s has gained a modest and devoted following of loyal customers, for which Alkurdi is extremely grateful.

“I would very much like to say thank you to the community for all of their support, before and during these times. The public understands that we are doing everything we can to provide a safe ordering experience as conveniently as possible, while also maintaining the high quality they’ve come to expect from Maverick’s. When we first opened, our goal was to provide customers with the best coffee, juices, and energy drinks they could find, all in one shop. We want our customers to be just as satisfied with our customer service as they are with our drinks.”

Once the worst is over and things begin to return to business as usual, Maverick’s will be opening a drive-thru, and Alkurdi is also considering adding a delivery option as well.

You can follow Maverick’s Coffee Shop and Juice Bar on Instagram @maverickscoffeeshop_lemoore and download their menu and ordering app from Google Play or the Apple store. Maverick’s Coffee Shop and Juice Bar is located at 55 E. D St., Ste M, in Lemoore.