Thanks to community support, a one-of-a-kind cafe that has offered connection and positivity amid the pandemic will survive to open it's doors another day.
Blew Kind opened her fresh, sustainable coffeehouse -- Franny Lou’s Porch -- in April 2015 with a "radical mission of deep love," she told "Good Morning America."
Like so many eateries across the country, the Black-owned business in Kingston, Pennsylvania, struggled due to government closures and dining restrictions amid the pandemic.
"Our numbers dropped from 700 a day to 50 a day right in the beginning," she explained. "We had to shorten our hours, apply additional sanitation guidelines, install a window so neighbors felt comfortable ordering and did lots of fundraising."
When indoor dining initially shutdown, she turned to crowdfunding to try and keep her business afloat and was "in awe of how the community has supported us."
"In the first part of the COVID [outbreak] and protests, we were gifted double what we asked to provide for our crew and losses," she said, explaining that their GoFundMe surpassed the initial goal of $53,000 within two weeks. "We were able to raise over $60,000. It's a reminder that what we are doing is more than a coffee and tea house. We are an intentional place that brings light. I'm happy that GoFundMe exists to be a trusted platform offering an avenue of communal connection and support."
Kind said she had other worries beyond money; how to keep their "humanness of connection and community alive and vibrant."
"The world is getting more isolated and detached. However, we need each other to be healthy. My concern isn’t as much for the business, rather than the culture the world has been taking," Kind said. "As a business we are here to keep being a light of hope and connection."
The physical space for Kind's business that brings Black American history to life was initially purchased by one of her customers from an earlier coffeehouse that she ran from 2009 to 2014.
"I am empowered by so many stories -- Frances E.W. Harper and Fannie Lou Hamer came to mind -- I woke up one morning and said, 'Franny Lous!' And the Porch is that middle meeting space, which is also connected to southern, Black life and hospitality."
Now, Kind owns and operates the cafe with Chantelle Todman and Ashley Huston, who have been "involved as managers, tribe leaders and baristas" for three to four years. "We changed the business model to incorporate a profit-sharing style network for our crew. We were able to share profits as early as November 2020."
Her advice to other restaurant, cafe and small business owners is simple, "Keep your head up. Be flexible. Meditate, rest and do things that make you happy."
She continued, "Trust in your community, make adjustments to your business to ensure that your community is loved on, so they will love on you in return."