Story courtesy of The Bison

SEARCY, Ark. – While a plethora of things have been changed or canceled, one thing people are still free to enjoy is coffee. Cafes and coffee shops in Searcy, such as Stu’s Brew, Midnight Oil, and Rise and Grind remain open. Savor + Sip, however, has closed until further notice.

With most of Harding’s students out of the city, the loyal student customers are left to wonder how their favorite coffee shops are doing.

Senior Marti Weaver, who works at Stu’s Brew and lives in Searcy, said she has been able to enjoy work because the customers have been considerate of the current situation.

“People have been more generous with tips during this time because they know that we are working so hard,” Weaver said.

There are two Stu’s Brew drive-through coffee kiosks in Searcy. While most restaurants have had to make the transition to strictly to-go orders, Stu’s Brew had an advantage already being used to this setup. Weaver noted that the biggest change within the coffee shop has been the increased intentionality of keeping equipment clean. The employees wash or sanitize their hands in between each order.

Weaver said she has appreciated the importance of staying sanitized going both ways.

“People have been a lot more considerate,” Weaver said. “Some sanitize or take their card with a napkin. People are taking care of us.”

Midnight Oil (MO), a coffeehouse that gives proceeds to nonprofit Kibo Group International, is known for the social atmosphere that it provides, especially for students. It has been able to stay open, but with a twist. The shop now serves its coffee through a side window on the front porch. This provides customers and workers with a safe distance while still serving coffee.

Senior Easton Davis has continued to work at Midnight Oil during the pandemic. Davis explained how different this time has been; from serving out of a window to empty tables and a quiet cafe, Midnight Oil has not been the same.

“All in all, the employees at MO are a little tired of this set up because we miss our cafe being full and loud,” Davis said.

However, he and the employees continue to appreciate the interactions that they do have.

“We still get to have conversations with customers when they order,” Davis said. “The local regulars are consistent and awesome.”

Davis also has found positivity through Midnight Oil gaining some new local customers.

Lisa Douglas, who works at Rise and Grind in the Natural Food store, has experienced the unexpected. Douglas was prepared to close the cafe due to Harding students not returning to campus; however, she has experienced days that are busy among the slow ones, allowing Rise and Grind to remain open.

“‘Blessed’ is how I explain that,” Douglas said.

Although these coffeehouses have been able to remain open, another popular cafe, Savor + Sip, has been closed until further notice.

“The majority of our customers are students,” spokesperson for Savor + Sip Isaac Tarrant said. “With so many of them gone due to the coronavirus outbreak, it would be difficult to sustain day-to-day operations through take-out orders exclusively.”

The temporary close did not include a target opening date.

“Ideally, we will open as soon as possible,” Tarrant said. “But in order for us to do that, we will need to monitor the COVID-19 situation as a whole, monitor federal actions being taken to control the outbreak, and also be aware of what the state is doing to control the outbreak.”

In the midst of the temporary closing, Savor + Sip has been able to find strength in the community.

“Everyone’s been great, honestly,” Tarrant said. “We have a really supportive and kind community in Searcy’s downtown area.”