“I was halfway through opening a business when all of this hit.

“My [current] wholesale coffee business is called Happy Monday Coffee. We picked up enough customers that we decided to open up a little café to represent Happy Monday. That’s all kind of up in the air right now.

“I got into coffee first as an investment, but I quickly fell in love with it. I liked seeing the feel-good of the exchange. In a lot of sales, you have a winner and a loser sometimes. And with coffee for me, there was two winners: a coffee and a smile for a smile and two dollars.

“That was what I fell in love with. That combined with fueling people’s day; kind of being that first thing they come to before they go kick ass wherever they’re at for the rest of the day. I like being part of that.

“The [coronavirus pandemic] has kind of decimated the hospitality business. The people lower on the totem pole are totally out of a job, those are the people that I feel for.

“I still supply Hero [Coffee Bar], they’re one of my main customers, but every single one of my customers is either an office or a restaurant that is either shut down or barely running right now.

“We’re a small company. Business has slowed down, we’re hurting badly from it. I’m working hard at innovating and finding ways to still get our product to our customers.

“We haven’t had to let anyone go, but we’re greatly reduced on hours. If it goes another month or two months, everyone has a breaking point financially. It’s all [a matter of] how long you can last.

“They call every day: ‘Is there anything we can do?’ I can’t wait to get everybody back on full force. Everyone’s being understanding, but again, there’s a breaking point on all of this.

“I feel like the world has frozen for the past three weeks to a month, so kind of what we need is if [property] tax payments could freeze along [with that]. Any type of extension to make up for the pause in income everyone’s experiencing.

“I don’t own any land in Illinois. And there’s a reason for that. I’m not an expert on property taxes but I know with how high [they are], I’m just not interested. I rent [my] spaces and I rent the place that I live, and I plan to not retire here.

“My small business has always been about freedom, the freedom to live my life and do the things that I want to do; provide a good product of value to neighborhoods that need them.

“We roast our own coffee and our prices are approachable, and I think that’s why we’ve found success and our neighborhoods support us. Because we’re there for them.

“I’m choosing to push through. We’re going to push forward and hopefully open [the new café], but this definitely changes things. We’re hoping that we can get back into business soon and safely.

“I’m hopeful. I’m not panicking. I don’t know if it’s the American in me, but I just believe we’re going to figure out a way to not let all of our businesses close down.”

Craig Alexander
Owner, Happy Monday Coffee Roasters
Founder, Hero Coffee Bar