When visiting any new city, my first move is usually to look up a good coffee shop. I certainly love coffee, but I also know that finding a quality ‘spro dispensary will more often than not drop me in a region’s cultural heart center.
If visiting Jax and you followed my lead, you’d end up at BREW Five Points. Located in the heart of city’s Bohemian district, BREW is beloved for both its third wave coffee offerings and the creatively inspired menu owner and chef Calli Marie has wrought upon Park Street, which features savories and sweets, breakfast tacos, fancy toasts, and much, much more.
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We reached out to Marie to get a pulse reading on Riverside, ask about her go-to quarantine meal, and see how she’s shifted BREW’s business model, pointing her creative compass toward keeping BREW’s devoted following satiated despite social distancing restrictions.
What’s been your go-to quarantine meal?
Oh man, I have been eating a whole lot of comfort food. My go-to quarantine meal right now has been Katsudon. It’s a panko fried pork cutlet (you can use chicken or a big mushroom, too) with brothy rice and scrambled egg. I had it a lot on my most recent trip to Japan and Thailand. It is like getting a cozy, soy sauce-y, rice hug. Look it up!
Have you had a lot of time to cook for yourself or do other things to stay positive? How are you holding up?
I haven’t had a whole lot of time to cook for myself because things have been insane at the shop, so I have been supporting local by ordering lots of take-out. One thing I have been doing to stay happy is play Animal Crossing New Horizons [laughs]! Send me your friend codes, please. But honestly, I am doing OK. This time has been hard for me, as it has been on everyone. A lot of my colleagues’ restaurants have closed with no reopen date. A majority of my friends have been laid off. We are surrounded by all kinds of grief and it is taking a toll on me for sure.
Has Brew been able to adapt its offerings to the new-normal? What kinds of things have you put in motion to stay afloat and continue to offer the things the community loves you for?
BREW has been doing great as far as adapting. We have a staff that have been so open to this transition. Things change fast and we are implementing new things every day. Our staff has really stepped up and been taking every precaution necessary all while serving a great product. We switched to all to-go and have a website that you can order from for pick-up [brewfivepoints.co]! We are also available for delivery on Postmates. We are offering larger versions of our customer favorites so they can make less trips out (like 1/2 gallon cold brew coffee growlers). We also partnered with Frog Song Organics so that we can offer local and organic produce boxes.
I’ve read some pretty dire predictions about the impact on food and beverage this shutdown and the battle with the virus has had and will have–its likely there will continue to be restrictions in place on restaurants for quite some time. Any sense on your end of what will be your best way forward?
There are so many articles and different takes on this. It is so easy to get overwhelmed by all of it. For my mental health’s sake, we have been taking it one day at a time. We don’t have a concrete reopen date to sit down and put a plan in place right now. Once it gets to that point, we will brainstorm on what we think is best for our staff and for the safety of our customers. I think it will include limiting seating for sure. It will also include upping our sanitation practices on our tables, counters, and chairs. We will keep our website open for easy ordering and we will stay on Postmates.
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What’s the best way for folks to continue to support Brew?
The best way to support us is order! That goes for any coffee shop right now. One thing we are super excited about is our Give A Growler program. You can buy a 1/2 gallon of cold brew coffee or chai and it goes straight to a healthcare worker or a furloughed service industry worker. You are supporting a small business and someone else at the same time. That can be found on our website, brewfivepoints.co. If you do order from the shop and are in the neighborhood consider making a stop at the other shops in Five Points as well. Five Points would be nothing without our neighbors and the only way we can all get through this is by supporting local.
Brew is deeply embedded into the fabric of Riverside. What have you heard or seen from your customers that gives you some hope for the future?
I can’t stop for too long to think about how great our community has been or I cry. We have been able to keep our full staff with regular hours because our customers have been so supportive. That gives me so much hope for us and for other shops as well. We are thankful for our regulars that continue to come by everyday; they have made this awful experience so much better. Serving everyone from six feet of separation from the door has been rough, but Riverside has shown us nothing but love.
This feature originally appeared in Void Magazine’s May 2020 issue, The Check In. For more interviews with artists, musicians, and the eternally optimistic, click the mag below.