How Chattanooga’s premier coffee & cocktail bar is staying active and giving back to the community during the COVID-19 pandemic
Food service has been one of the hardest-hit industries by the coronavirus pandemic. Although Chattanooga’s shelter-in-place order permits restaurants and bars to remain open for carry-out orders, many locally-owned establishments have struggled to turn a profit and maintain serving staffs due to the lull in business.
Even Mad Priest, Chattanooga’s premier coffee and cocktail bar, has seen a major decline in both retail and wholesale business due to the coronavirus outbreak. The company has been forced to let many of their employees go temporarily and is operating on a limited schedule, according to communications manager Cherita Rice.
Despite the challenge, Mad Priest has received a great deal of support from the community through to-go sales at their Broad Street and Cherry Street locations. In order to return the support and maintain connections with their customers, the company has invested lots of energy toward social media engagement.
“We are focusing on connecting personally with our customers and providing specific services that they need or want in the current situation,” Rice said.
She shared that the company is utilizing Facebook Live to deliver daily updates about services, Catechism classes focused on the art of coffee and cocktails, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire: Cocktail Edition, a competition for local bartenders who might be out of work to showcase their skills and receive cash prizes.
“It has been so amazing to see the support of folks buying coffee online and still ordering coffee, food, cocktails to go,” Rice shared. “And people who aren't able to buy stuff right now are liking, commenting, sharing our social media posts. There are so many ways to support local businesses right now, without leaving your home!”
Mad Priest has set a fantastic example of how smaller, locally owned businesses can support each other and their customers during times of crisis.
When asked what advice she would give to other restaurants and bars who might be struggling with business due to the coronavirus, Rice said, “Stay in front of your customers with engaging posts on social media, special promotions, telling stories about your company, short videos...anything that sets you apart!”
Both as a country and a local community, we know the current health crisis will likely pose challenges that last for months to come. Only by taking care of ourselves and then supporting our neighbors—especially local businesses, artists and entrepreneurs—can Chattanooga come out of the tunnel stronger.
“For now we have to take it one day at a time, try to get our products in front of as many people as possible, and serve whatever needs they have in this crazy time,” Rice said.