Stayin’ Alive: Small Business Edition

By: Katharine Bales ’22 and Natalie Ro ’22

School has kept going since the COVID-19 crisis, but what about small local businesses such as coffee shops, small restaurants and boutiques? Chances are they cannot afford to call off their businesses, so they have had to think of new ways to make money without making physical contact with customers.

As a result of this worldwide pandemic, restaurants and cafés have started offering takeout and delivery. They have taken advantage of apps like DoorDash, Uber Eats, Favor, Postmates and other online platforms that allow customers to find food deliverers in their residential area. Some places—Starbucks, for example—were available for delivery prior to the coronavirus outbreak, but others had to improvise and look at their options.

Delivery apps are growing more costumers by the day. The most successful delivery app is Uber Eats with over 90 million users, and ordering food is as easy as clicking a button. They have hundreds of options and are organized to sort through your favorite foods. For instance, students who like to eat at California Pizza Kitchen can still enjoy their amazing pizza and delicious salads thanks to Uber Eats.

Since many students love trying new coffee shops, these apps also enable users to order espresso drinks from White Rock Coffee, Ascension, Houndstooth, Fourteen Eighteen, XO Coffee and other coffee shops in the area.

Magic Cup employees pose inside their coffee and tea shop in Richardson.
Courtesy of Magic Cup Richardson Instagram

On the other hand, shops and small restaurants with less publicity have had to work harder to earn the same number of profits as before. Magic Cup Café, an Asian-inspired coffee and tea shop, has sent out an unpublished writeup about its experiences during COVID-19. Co-founder and CEO Frances Luong wrote, “[E]ven as an essential business operating under local and government safety recommendations, we are continuing to adapt to the global pandemic while leaning on our previous efforts to thrive within the new normal.”

Magic Cup now sells gallons and half-gallons of milk teas and fusion teas, a new initiative that has allowed frequent customers to leave their homes as seldom as possible for tea. Since each gallon yields several servings, they can drink boba-style tea from the comfort and safety of home. Amid these trying times, buying products in bulk can be a wise alternative.

Additionally, Magic Cup stores have recently implemented an online order feature and are listed on Uber Eats to provide better accessibility to potential clients. Out of appreciation for its success despite coronavirus, different locations have “donated over 50 gallons of milk tea and fusion tea to local healthcare professionals in Houston and Dallas.”

Delivery is much easier because all the costumer has to do is order, pay and wait for the food to arrive. Not all restaurants deliver, however, so there is another way: curbside pickup. Many popular restaurants such as Mi Cocina, Pie Tap and Maggiano’s have adapted to offer the option of ordering online and having food brought to the customer’s car.

Ordering out can be expensive sometimes, but during these times, it is nice to contribute a bit to support local restaurants. Popular restaurants are not suffering as much as smaller businesses such as non-chain eateries and beverage shops. Without the ability to advertise as effectively, it can be difficult for less popular, less established businesses to continue making money like normal, but many of them have succeeded thus far.

With all these different options, businesses are surviving and hopefully making it through this pandemic. People can contribute to local business as well as more popular ones. Though these are difficult times, it is good to see people helping others and strengthening our great community.

Featured image courtesy of The Dallas Morning News

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