There is no doubt that this is a difficult time for small businesses. In the wake of COVID-19 and the collapsing economy, many businesses have been forced to shut down and many employees have been left without jobs.
OB Beans is still up and running with heavy safety and health precautions. The craft coffee shop was started by a group of young men, some of which PLNU alumni, and has been a favorite hangout spot for Loma students and OB locals alike for over two years.
The business has adapted quickly to the new guidelines given to them by the Center for Disease and Control Prevention (CDC). The coffee shop does not permit the use of personal mugs, everything is done in a to-go style, no seating is available, there is as little human contact as possible, every surface is cleaned contanstanly and all the employees religiously wash their hands.
The employees were given the option to work through COVID-19. Everyone who is there, wants to be. All employees who opted out of working are given guaranteed job security upon return.
“We’re lucky we get to stay open, said assistant manager and PLNU senior, Maddy Holley. “We need to do everything in our power to follow guidelines. Being open is great because it means we all still have a job.”
Running OB Beans is a “day to day and hour by hour task” according to shop manager, Keally Betanzos. Betanzos believes that staying open helps create a sliver of normality in customers’ and the staffs’ lives.
“At the end of the day, OB Beans is running the utmost hygienic experience,” said Betanzos. “We have been able to maintain business from locals and people ordering online, and I am very grateful for that and hope we get to keep serving our community.”
Although grateful to maintain his job, Betanzos suffers from chronic asthma, which puts him in a higher-risk demographic than the normal 25-year-old. He said he isn’t worried because “there isn’t enough info to really worry,” but his family is worried.
“There is a pretty strict protocol for what I can and can’t do when I get home. My sanitizing and hygiene is very important,” said Betanzos.
Holley is also not overly concerned about her personal health due to her age. However, she is aware that she could be a carrier of the virus and potentially pass it onto someone more at risk. She is taking extra precautions, practicing social distancing and being careful about who she comes into contact with outside of work.
“It’s been amazing to see the community come together to support us,” said Holley.
Mark Bell, principal owner of OB Beans, highlighted that we are living in “extraordinary times, going through something people haven’t gone through before.” Although it is uncertain, Bell tries to stay positive everyday and give his customers and employees hope.
Bells says keeping an open line of communication between vendors and other owners has been essential.
“Entrepreneurs thrive on finding solutions to problems,” said Bell.
OB Beans was forced to close their newly-opened second location, Sur Coffee, in San Clemente. However with the stimulus package that was passed, Bell hopes to get the second shop up and running shortly.
Despite Sur Coffee closing, fewer hours and different rules in the shop, there have been silver linings within the chaos.
“It has been so fun to watch how business owners have been champions for each other,” Bell said. “It’s so beautiful. We couldn’t do this without our amazing team and customers. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all of the people helping support us.”