RUTHERFORD, NJ -- Stephanie Willoughby spoke with Renee Faris, chef and owner of Erie Coffee Shop & Bakery, about her small business in town and how life and work has changed for her during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the coronavirus outbreak began to take hold in New Jersey, at first Faris set limits as to how many people could be in the bakery, but eventually wound up closing altogether as the crisis intensified. With a new baby at home, and concerns about her parents and the parents of staff members, it was the only decision that seemed right. “I felt like there was such a big responsibility on my end to make sure that we were being safe,” she said, “so we just closed.”
Faris’s time at home was well-spent; she set up an online ordering system, which she had never wanted to do, as she treasures conversations with customers. However, this is a way for people in Rutherford to continue to get the shop’s most popular baked goods, such as their olive oil citrus cakes, which often sell out quickly, and their donuts, only available on Saturdays.
When the shop closed, Faris set up a GoFundMe page in support of her employees, and the response from the community went above and beyond what they had requested. “The community has been amazing,” she said. “I’m very grateful.” Due to the surplus, they are currently planning ways to give back to the community, including donating baked goods to essential workers.
Though Faris misses seeing her customers in person, she is happy to still be contributing to the community. “We give people something to look forward to on the weekends for now,” said Faris. “Cookies make people smile.”
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