BELMAR, NJ — Turnstile Coffee Roasters has found a creative way to adapt to current restrictions put on businesses to curb the spread of COVID-19.

At the Belmar coffee shop, customers can now order beverages at a side window, where baristas inside take orders using an intercom speaker, and a credit card reader is secured outside the window for patrons. As for pickup, the original entrance along Route 71 is equipped with a new temporary door with glass panels.

“It’s kind of like a drive-through, but you walk through,” said Turnstile owner Mike Ayars. “It’s contactless and working out very nicely.”

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When Gov. Phil Murphy issued a stay-at-home order on March 21, Turnstile was among the food establishments that could remain open for takeout. But after one morning of operating under the social distancing guidelines required under the order, it closed its doors.

“When people started to come in, it just felt uncomfortable. There were too many people waiting, so after the first hour (on March 22), we closed,” said Ayars.

At that point, he could have thrown in the towel on the retail side of his business and limited its operations to roasting beans for wholesale. Instead, he did some quick thinking and came up with the idea for the contactless takeout window. Five days later, Turnstile was back in business.

While the shop is offering its full line of coffee beverages, it has pulled its food items, such as pastries, fruit cups and avocado toast, from the menu for the time being. 

“It’s still not the same, but it’s something, and my employees wanted to continue to work,” said Ayars, adding, "It's so rewarding to see someone come up to the window." 

Although retail sales are down, more customers are purchasing bags of Turnstile’s coffee beans online, he added.

Located at 1607 Route 71, near the intersection of 16th Avenue, Turnstile Coffee Roasters is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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