He opened the coffee shop with a sense of excitement, not yet knowing the extent of the challenges that were to come.
“We hired a local artist to paint a giant mural in the coffee shop and hung local art on our walls,” Forgette said. “I decided to open a coffee shop here because I want to be part of the community and bring in entertainment and artists from this area together—to give people a place where they can go to congregate and enjoy things like that.”
Since Coral Reef Coffee Co. opened March 11, public health officials have advised that people stay home, practice social distancing and to avoid gatherings of 10 people or more to help slow the spread of the coronavirus.
“I’m a pretty positive person; I know it takes a couple of months to get your business going anyway,” Forgette said. “But I'm a little worried. All my employees—I literally just hired them and then this happened.”
Due to slow business, Forgette had to make the decision to only keep one employee on, though he has told other employees that when things get back to normal, their jobs will be waiting for them.
Grocery stores have started limiting the number of gallons of milk customers can purchase so there will not be any shortages as people stock up on necessities.
This presents a unique challenge for coffee shops for which milk is an essential ingredient, Forgette said.
“It’s a tough situation because I need milk, but I’m not going to purchase anything beyond the limits that are set because I don’t want to take milk away from families and kids out there who need it,” he said. “So I’m getting by for now with what I can. But if at any point I run out of milk, I’ll have to shut down temporarily.”
Challenging circumstances call for creative solutions, so Forgette—like many other local business owners—is doing what he can to adapt to the situation.
Coral Reef Coffee Co. is now available through delivery through online apps such as DoorDash and Uber Eats.
Customers can also order curbside delivery directly from the coffee shop, which has closed its indoor services per the advice of health officials.
“All of us local business owners are in the same boat, so we’re trying to do what we can to get through this,” Forgette said.