Small businesses and non-profits are especially hard hit during the coronavirus outbreak. We get it! Baltimore Fishbowl is a small business, too. To help small businesses and non-profits, we will provide regular updates to let you know how they are coping.
The following is an update from Roseann Glick, Owner of Village Square Cafe on how they are adapting and coping during these times.
We’re a family-owned and operated café that’s been in business since 2008. We pride ourselves on being a casual eatery and neighborhood gathering spot serving fresh, simple food in a warm & inviting setting.
While we’re proud of our fresh, made-to-order food, we know our café has always been about much more than just a good meal. Customers come to the café for camaraderie and a social connection to others. It’s not uncommon to see guests stopping to chat with friends & colleagues at other tables. Or heads of Baltimore’s most notable non-profits strategizing about how to make Baltimore a better place to live, work and play. Or local politicians being thanked by constituents for the work that they’re doing for the community. For now, that critically important aspect of our business has been put on hold.
Our current hours of operation are 11 am – 6 pm, 7 days a week, offering carry-out and delivery (within 3 miles). In addition, we’re offering curbside pick-up service from the parking area in front of Williams Sonoma. Customers can order from our full regular menu (available on our website), with few exceptions, as well as daily dinner specials, which we post each day to our Facebook page. We also carry a limited selection of moderately priced wines to go with our meals and a selection of desserts/sweet treats to finish off the meal.
How have you altered your business to adapt to the quarantine?
It all hit so fast. Within the same week, we launched a delivery service to residents and businesses within the Village of Cross Keys, then expanded our delivery area to encompass Roland Park & Mount Washington, and by the end of the day on March 16 (when Governor Hogan ordered all restaurants to close for dine-in service), we had to transform overnight to a carry-out & delivery ONLY model.
Sadly, we can no longer welcome customers INTO our café. We are asking customers to place all orders over the phone — 410-433-CAFÉ  — and pre-pay with a credit card in order to minimize any contact we may have with each other.
Coming to terms with this new, less welcoming way of conducting business has been a difficult transition for many of our customers, but they are slowly coming to understand that we’re doing this for their protection, as well as that of our staff.
Are you doing something for the community or your employees that you want to share with our readers?
Since our business is largely comprised of regulars, we’ve been reaching out to many of them via email and phone to make sure they know that we remain open for carry-out & delivery and to see how they’re managing during this difficult time. That personal touch has always been the hallmark of our business.
Last week, we began offering a weekly “Produce Box” for sale (via one of our vendors – Capital Seaboard) which contains a variety of fresh fruits & vegetables. Customers can either pick them up at the café or we can deliver them within our 3-mile delivery area. So far, the response has been positive as people attempt to limit their interaction with others in a retail setting.
People can also purchase their Zeke’s Coffee from us by the pound — whole bean or ground to order.
What is the status of your employees?
While our business volume is down dramatically, we continue to employ about 60% of our full-time staff, as well as a couple of part-timers. The remaining staff has been temporarily laid off and we intend to re-hire everyone as soon as we are allowed to fully re-open our café.
How can readers help you get through the crisis?
By giving us a try, if they haven’t already, and by helping us to spread the word that we are still open for business serving up our regular menu as well as home-style daily specials. “Liking” us on Facebook would be great too!
How are you coping, personally?
While this pandemic has hit our business hard, we consider ourselves fortunate to be able to keep the café operational and a keep numerous staffers employed. We’re a small family business and it was very difficult to have to lay off hard working staff due to the significant drop in business. Normally, this time of year – spring into summer – would be our best season because of our lovely outdoor patio as well as a bump in business from area weddings and graduations. The uncertainty about when we will be able to re-open the café makes it hard to plan for the future.
If you represent a local small business or non-profit and would like to share your update with our readers, contact Nicole Allen at [email protected]. During the crisis, we will offer these sponsored posts for free as a service to the community.