ORLANDO, Fla. – An Orlando coffee shop is now able to stay afloat during a financial rough patch thanks to the overwhelming support of the community following an online plea for help.
“I just made the judgment call to just ask a couple of people for help, and then that couple of people turned into the whole city of Orlando,” Nathan Fields, the Director of Coffee for Downtown CREDO, said.
On Friday, Fields took to Instagram to ask for support from the community for Downtown CREDO. The business had been struggling since its most profitable retail outlet, which sat on the campus of AdventHealth near Lockhaven Park in Orlando, closed earlier this year.
“You may not know, but despite my efforts to dissuade them, we were forced to close our busiest location this summer by our landlord who wanted to supplant us with St*rbucks (SIC),” the Instagram post read. “This has backed me into a tight corner financially, and with our strongest café gone, I’ve been forced to lay off 67% of my workers, close a second location, and even still I’m treading a thin line to stay afloat.”
Downtown Credo had opened a location inside the YMCA located at 433 N. Mills Ave. in April, but the closure of the AdventHealth location made it impossible to sustain the operation. Only the location at 855 N. Orange Ave. remains open.
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In the post, Fields went on to say that he had taken himself off of pay for at least two pay cycles.
“I need about $3K (SIC) in the next 9 days to keep the doors open,” the post said.
Fields explained the goal of the post was just to make payroll.
“I wasn’t even planning on putting myself on the payroll for this next one upcoming,” he said. “I was going to take another hit one more time.”
Fields expected the money to trickle in slowly, but he ended up making that $3,000 within just a few hours of his post online.
“Then the next day, on Saturday, the like the whole city pulled up,” he said.
Fields was actually working solo that day because he had previously given some of his employees the day off. So, when the rush began, it mostly fell on Fields and his chef, Di Orellana, to handle the crush of people. Fortunately, Downtown CREDO shares the space with Zepplin Books, whose owner is a past employee of Downtown CREDO, according to Fields. The owner of the bookstore jumped in to run the register while Fields made all of the drinks.
“So he just hopped on with me and the two of us just took orders, slammed drinks and got ‘em out. I just — it was crazy. We had a line out the door for a number of hours and it was fantastic,” Fields said.
A friend of Fields’ had also stopped by to show his support for the business, but he wound up doing dishes in order to help out with the wave of community support.
Downtown CREDO allows customers to set their own prices for their coffee. Fields could not give any exact numbers, but he said that people were definitely opening up their wallets to help the business.
“I did get the general sense that there was a lot of generosity that day,” he said. “It was the spirit of generosity in the air — a spirit of solidarity in the air — and a lot of folks were paying well above what we have suggested.”
Fields said the generosity has carried over from the weekend and that it has been “busier than a normal Monday” at the café.
“It’s definitely not as busy as that Saturday was, but we are still feeling some of that momentum for sure,” he said.
While Fields is overjoyed at the support he experienced over the weekend, he knows that this burst of support is not a long-term fix. He is trying to focus the business more on its roasting and wholesale operations.
“I am hoping that people had a really great experience in the café on Friday and Saturday and they’ll come back and see us more often,” he said. “I’m also just pursuing wholesale in general. I would love to be, honestly, in cafés up and down the coast and (selling to) different organizations (and) businesses. So I have a couple of leads.”
Fields is also still working with AdventHealth. He said the hospital system is working with Downtown CREDO to supply coffee to its Health Village campus. This is the same campus where Downtown CREDO’s café closed earlier this year.
“I just want to say explicitly that I don’t hold any ill will towards AdventHealth,” Fields said. “I love the relationship that we’ve been building. My post was not in any way to throw any shade (in) their direction.”
Fields added that anyone looking to support Downtown CREDO can purchase their coffee online, or sign up for the company’s subscription service to have coffee delivered to their home regularly. More details on that can be found here.
“Thank you so much to the whole Orlando community and friends and families of the Orlando community that have moved elsewhere or live elsewhere who have ordered,” he said. “Thank you so much for showing out to the café. I hope to see you again.”
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