GTPulse: Traverse City Cafe Owner Offers Discounts for Service Industry and Laid Off Workers
Becky Tranchell is the owner of Rose and Fern Cafe in Traverse City. The sunny and typically bustling cafe is a lot quieter these days but that isn’t stopping her from keeping her small business open. She’s not just working to keep her business alive, she wants the Traverse City community as a whole to survive the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why she cut prices 50% to 60% off on all of her menu for service industry workers and anyone else who has been laid off from work.
“I’ve been an industry worker since I’ve been working. My first job was as a barista, I went to culinary school. So this has been my world,” she said.
Many service industry workers, myself included, were feeling the impact of the Stay Home Stay Safe initiative before Governor Whitmer called for it. Bars and restaurants have been shut down for dine-in services for over a week now, leaving the majority of service industry workers jobless for the time being. With Traverse City having such a prevalent food and restaurant culture these impacts have been huge in the small town with many local small businesses scrambling to navigate the changes.
“Owning this business, this was the first time I started to feel stable. I’ve been in business for just over a year. I’m glad that I’m in a boat where I have so much empathy for the other restaurant and hospitality workers because I know what it’s like to work paycheck to paycheck.”
Her empathy for fellow industry workers transcends to empathy for her fellow small business owners. She supports other local businesses like Stockist Coffee and Bubbie’s Bagels by using their products in the cafe menu.
Becky is proud to be able to help her community even after facing some concern from friends on how she’ll be able to provide such a steeply discounted menu to some customers.
“Their concern was that I wasn’t going to make my margins. But, the cool thing is that it has brought in more donations to help me feed those people. We have over $200 right now in the register on a gift card that has just been people calling in to buy for someone who needs it.”
She’s happy to see the circle of generosity and kindness that is being shown from customers, but she’ll be even happier to see some of her regulars again.
“I have a man who comes in here every single day named Jim. He was born in 1936. We were talking about how to move forward, what we need to do for his safety and I asked him if he’s ever experienced something like this and she said no. Someone that’s been around since 1936.”
He may not be able to come into his favorite cafe right now, but Rose and Fern is open for curbside business Wednesday through Sunday from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
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