The Grind: Built for the Long Haul

What an incredibly awkward time it is to open a business at all, let alone one in the service industry. Between near crippling supply shortages within the weakened supply chain and rampant inflation from excessive deficit spending as well as increased supply demands, The Grind has been given a first hand taste of the storms it must be able to weather in order to continue being a staple of downtown for years to come; as a business born in the chaos and “adapt or perish” pandemic, we aren’t complaining — we welcome the challenge and accept that this business model must be able to withstand both the good and shaky economically turbulent times.

Over the past few weeks of our soft launch, we’ve analyzed countless data points and scrutinized every aspect of our business to find out where we’re weak, and where we can improve. We aren't going to pretend that we know it all, or that we are the bastions of post-pandemic business knowledge, rather, we are going to tell you that the joy in following through with this process has been the constant adaptation needed to ensure a healthy business model and keep our promises to Bluefield and Southwest Virginia and most importantly our nearly two dozen team-members on staff.

After having had the ability to look at our business from multiple angles, here is where we are going to be making some adjustments:

  1. If you order a drink that can be poured on the spot, it will be served on the spot. We noticed that customers who ordered a black coffee, tea, lemonade, etc. were left waiting behind those with smoothie and other specialty drink orders. Although a small consideration, it is one of those things we noticed when observing from a distance and are immediately changing so we can get our customers in and out faster.
  2. We are replacing our burger menu with wraps. During the pandemic, serving burgers from our mobile food unit was both logical and acted as a good opportunity to make some food sales. Today, the concept has become burdensome, costly, and a wildly over saturated market in Bluefield while it also affects our ability to focus on what we are really good at, which is slow-cooked pulled chicken and deli sandwiches. Besides all that, the unbelievable recent market fluctuations of the price in beef as well as the need for excessive storage space to avoid cross-contamination were among other factors in our decision. Instead, all sandwiches available to you on our menu will also be offered in a regular flour tortilla wrap or spinach wrap, we believe by getting down to the core of what we’re good at will further allow us to become a regional staple and expand off of it as well.
  3. Prices will increase and adjust accordingly. In accordance with Virginia law, minimum wage will be increasing to 15 dollars per hour over the next several years, the first wage increase has already taken place wherein the wage is currently $9.50. We have no ambitions to make a political statement here, so we do not wish for these words to be minced other than to say that it is expensive to run a small business. Rather than raise prices for years and remain in a constant inflammatory state of price hikes with customers, we are going to quickly establish the items which will clearly not hold up over the next few years and adjust our prices to account for the pending wage increases as well as inflation. If we or any other business is to survive, it must do this as a necessary action. If you see some price adjustments over the coming days, please show grace and patience as we build a more solid foundation in Bluefield, one that’s built to last.
  4. Menu redesign. We will be comprehensively redesigning our menu so that the elderly and those of us with limited sight can more easily see and read the menu options presented. Wording is too small, pictures too fast, and options disappear. We hear you! we are working with our graphic designer to give you a better ordering experience, hang in there, it is on the way.
  5. Permanently closed on Mondays, Breakfast all day on Sunday’s. There is a lot of factors which went into this decision, seeing as a coffee shop being closed on a Monday seems redundant, however, the people of Bluefield are weekend warriors according to our data. Friday, Saturday and Sunday are our most consistent days with Monday showing little to any life. Beyond this, our staff and management are EXHAUSTED. The time needed to bake, prep, clean, inventory, order and pick up from all our small business suppliers is tiresome and takes time. Quality takes time. Shutting down on Mondays gives us time to reorganize and prepare for the week ahead. We will also be doing all day breakfast permanently on Sundays (only) as we believe that this is a unique offering and benefit of the Sunday crowds desires and gives The Grind an edge locally when it comes to brunch spots. Between Tuesday and Saturday we will be serve breakfast until 11a.m. and lunch thereafter. We are still testing the feasibility of food until close, and will make final decisions on serving time in the coming days — to be honest, Bluefield keeps selling us out of most everything by 2p.m. so it is hard to measure if it is possible… not a terrible problem to have!
  6. Phone service, online ordering and curbside pick-up. We certainly have heard you here! during our soft launch phase we have purposefully kept our phones off in order to take ample time to serve the customers in front of us with top notch service, adjust to labor demands and ensure a quality in-store experience. As we prepare for grand opening, we will turn our phones on but with a caveat… We will only accept orders through the online portal which will appear on our site in the coming week or two. To keep people moving in the store and to ensure each team-member is being best utilized, it is not in our best interest to take orders on the phone especially considering how every item on our menu is customizable to your liking. Instead, we have set up a system where when you order online, you’ll have the option to place your order up to a maximum of 15–20 minutes before you arrive (to maintain premium freshness) and that order will be subsequently sent to our ordering screens at both the barista station iPad, and the kitchen iPad where your custom order can be clearly read and prepared. This protects us from messing up your phone order, and you then have the opportunity to fully customize your order.

As we continue to move forward with business we certainly appreciate your patience, this is a really fun project and one which it is important to get right for so many reasons, not the least of which is leading a true revitalization effort in downtown Bluefield, Virginia. We are establishing a name for ourselves not only in our community, but regionally as well and there are many agencies and firms, local governments and more taking note of this incredible effort in downtown Bluefield.

We are immensely proud of our team-members, their work ethic, and the continued support of our community. We are committed to our community and are looking to do so much more than simply exist, we want to take our talents to other downtowns just like Bluefield and establish ourselves as the coffee shop of the working class, hard-knocks, dirty hand, bare knuckle Americans who get it done everyday. Other corporate entities only seek to follow highways, and there's nothing wrong with that, but we see potential in the place which has been most ignored for decades which is Americas downtowns and we believe we can act as an anchor to bring about real, positive and sustainable change for the future. We can’t change the world, but we can change the world around us. We look forward to continuing to change the world around us and appreciate your continued support and patience as we adapt and overcome. The Grind never stops.

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The Grind

U.S Army / OEF Vet, College Football Player, Small Business Start-Up Owner, Student