The staff at Brewed Awakenings in Kemptville have been working tirelessly to continue to serve the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike many food service establishments, Brewed Awakenings never closed, even during the early days of the pandemic, opting to offer take-out, curbside pickup, and delivery to continue to serve their patrons. Café owner, Kika Smith, says they were very appreciative that they were able to stay open; however, they did have to tighten up their hours, and downsize from 13 paid staff to just two on payroll, plus herself and her two daughters.
While the first three months of the pandemic where less busy, Kika says it has definitely picked up as people have become more comfortable with venturing out of the home. Welcoming more people back into the store has been great for business; but it has also come with some challenges. Although they are back up to eight staff members, it is still difficult for them to keep on top of all the cooking and baking needed to keep their shelves and café stocked. “We had three bakers before,” Kika says. “My daughter does 90% of the baking, so it gets a bit tough. She’s getting a bit burned out.”
Keeping the café safe for customers has also been top of mind for the staff at Brewed Awakenings. They are now buying hand sanitizer by the case, and every surface in the café is wiped down several times a day. They have also invested in several wooden dividers, made by one of their regular customers, that separate tables to ensure that patrons who want to sit and have their coffee or lunch can feel comfortable and safe while doing so. “That’s an adaptation that we’re going to keep, because we love them,” Kika says. “It adds a bit of privacy for people as well.”
Like everyone, they have had to change and adapt constantly as new health and safety regulations came into effect, and the needs of the community changed. They have had to figure out how to operate sustainably with fewer hours and staff, while still offering the same products and level of service that their customers expect. “You just adapt and make things work in your parameters. Our main focus has been trying to stay open and provide the same service that we provided before. The same options, the same product, but with less hours and staff. And coming up with new ways to interact with the community.”
It is important to Kika that Brewed Awakenings remains an integral part of the North Grenville community. She is very grateful for everyone who has chosen to shop locally, and continues to support them throughout the pandemic. “They’re making a point of coming in and saying: I don’t come in that often normally; but I’m trying to make sure your guys are here by the end of all this. It makes a big, big difference.”
To show their support to the community, Brewed Awakenings has been giving out free drinks every day throughout the month of October to different groups in the community who have felt the immense pressure of the pandemic on their shoulders. “My daughter said: let’s do something for teachers, and it just grew into: let’s do something every single day,” Kika says, adding that different businesses, like Rideau Roastery, JM Automotive, and Red Moose Realty have offered to sponsor certain days to help out. “It’s been a great initiative and people have responded so well to it.”
The free drink giveaways will end on October 30, when they will be offering free coffee to anyone who comes in. “I just think it’s something that puts a smile on people’s face,” Kika says. “It’s worth it right there just to see that.”
The best way to support the hardworking staff at Brewed Awakenings right now is keep coming in to buy their delicious coffee and food. Kika is always open to ideas about how they can continue to serve the community as best they can. “Follow us on Facebook and continue to shop local.”
Brewed Awakenings is located at 2868 County Road 43, and is open Monday-Friday, 6:00am-5:00pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 8:00am-2:00pm. Inside seating and takeout is available, and they are still offering curbside pick-up, delivery, and catering.