Pressing start once again at 8-Bit Beans is the extra life its owners were hoping for.
“It feels really good to finally be back open,” says Brad Mavin, co-owner of the venue.
The coffee entrepreneur just opened the coffee bar — a retro arcade joint — in November. But like many, his business was put on pause due to the pandemic in March.
“To have to shut down this major attraction in downtown Whitby, it was tragic,” says the owner. “It was tragic to our staff, tragic to us and our investors. It wasn’t good timing.”
Mavin, who also co-owns Deadly Grounds Coffee in Courtice, was hit from all sides. Having just opened 8-Bit Beans, the business was bubbling. They also partnered with local brewer Brock Street Brewery and were on track to make the perfect pair.
“It was really heartbreaking to shut down. We were just hitting our stride.”
Although it was a rough go, he says everyone stepped up to help, with people ordering coffee online and other one-ups from his landlord.
“We’re lucky we had a great landlord, support of the community. No one wanted to see 8-Bit Beans close down.”
Now they are serving customers once again, after more than four months — and it seems everyone is happy to be back.
“I’m just glad everything is slowly starting to open, which is great,” says Michelle Duguay, who was there with her son.
Reopening the retro arcade location was no easy feat either. With multiple high-touch surfaces, it’s now a new game for anyone who wants to get their gaming fix.
“The arcades are a little different,” says Mavin. “We have signs on those machines saying respect social distancing. Please wait to play at those machines.”
Pinball machines have been spaced apart, and there are extensive cleaning procedures carried out by the staff — every time a machine is used. When you enter, you’ll also have to leave your information in case there is a need for contact tracing as well.
Although there are lots of rules, customers say after being stuck inside for months, it’s good to have something else to do.
“It keeps you grounded,” says Richard Rojas, who came for the reopening day. “It’s a good thing in the community to have back.”
Hearing arcade music once again in his business is relieving for the owner, but he worries what could happen next.
“Are we going to be faced with a month from now, or two months now having to shut down again?” he said. “That heartbreak all over again — that would be the unfortunate thing and that’s the thing that scares me.”
It’s a concern that is on many business owners’ minds as we slowly reopen and try to get a handle on the pandemic.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.