Omi’s Coffee Shop in Portland, Maine, is a local business that supports local suppliers to feed local people. In receipt of a grant from the James Beard Foundation, they chose to feed it back into the community - a local approach that will prove vital in the coming months for restaurants.
The coronavirus crisis was, and still is, a national emergency. Political divisions in the United States only compound the problem, which is why local solidarity and community have never been more important. Omi’s represents how a food business can become a fulcrum for other local businesses. More than a café, it is a hub for community and local economics.
While the state of Maine sustained fewer Covid-19 casualties than most, businesses were subject to the same stringent shelter-in-place restrictions imposed on those worst affected. For Omi’s, that meant shutting down, furloughing staff and rethinking a business model that had seen them become an embedded part of the local community, serving delicious breakfast sandwiches alongside their famous coffee.
Omi's applied for and received a grant of $15,000 from the James Beard Relief Fund, which was created with the help of corporate and individual doners across the US to provide aid for struggling restaurants. The cafe’s owners chose to use the grant to pay local suppliers.