As with many businesses, 2020 has been a lean year for coffee, located just off University Avenue and Harvard Street. Owner Kyle Thorson has had to cut staff and work hours to stay afloat. He reopened his store in August last year and was successful with a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program and a low-interest business loan from the Bank of North Dakota. They were almost not enough, but things are starting to change.
“It really was a few months ago that I almost thought we weren’t going to exist anymore,” Thorson said.
Thorson had to cut its staff from 15 to six at the worst of the pandemic, when UND students switched to e-learning. Then there were the months when it had to close. But now he feels a renewed optimism. He is hiring more staff and will soon be increasing his food supply, which he had to reduce when students were not on campus.
“Literally, it was from ‘we could go bankrupt’ to ‘there’s some hope at the end of the tunnel,'” Thorson said.
Part of the renewal is a beer and wine license, which Thorson obtained earlier in July. The cafe, he said, doesn’t sell very well in the evenings and it wants to be open again until 11 p.m., to provide students with a place to study or socialize. The new drink selections will add to the boutique atmosphere as it hosts open mic events, like live music and poetry readings. They usually attract between 30 and 40 people, and he hopes the chance to have a drink will increase the numbers.
“I think it will just help us become profitable again and hopefully provide a unique service to the students, faculty and staff here,” Thorson said.
Archives Coffee House will also begin to organize artistic events. Local artists Adam Kemp and Sheila Dalgliesh have created a gallery of their work around the store, which customers can purchase. He also hopes to have live music at the event.
The staff have started showing enthusiasm again and come up with new ideas for events and activities. An evening of desserts and wine could make a lovely date night, Thorson said, and he’s bringing back Sunday brunch. He can tell that the air has changed in the community, in part due to widespread access to vaccines, and in part because people feel ready to reunite with others.
“I feel a part of life is coming back to the archives, and that’s what turns me on,” Thorson said. “You rediscover this passion. “