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January 12, 2021
Date of Event:


This Kentucky business is giving back to front-line workers withfree coffee for a month

By Lauren M. Johnson, CNN  1 day ago

The man behind The CoffeeHousein Paintsville, Kentucky, knows what it means to struggle during the Covid-19pandemic -- so he decided to treat those on the front lines to free coffee fora month.Owner Kyle Melvin bought the shop in January of 2020, just monthsbefore the pandemic hit, with a mission statement of "coffee, community,and connection."

Melvin told CNN he got a good feel for how the business wouldrun before the whole world was turned upside down by Covid-19. Somehow throughthe ups and downs of the pandemic, he continued to adapt and survive -- justhim and a part-time worker."I had Covid at the end of July, beginning of August... but other than that we haven't closed one time," Melvin said."Wehave adapted in every way we possibly can."

Melvin said business was slowing down in November, so he had aconversation with his landlord, Wade Smith, about the situation -- and that setthe whole plan in motion."He gave the idea that ... in lieu of me payinghim rent (in January) he would allow me to keep that money ... and we wouldextend (the money) as an act of kindness for the front-line workers in ourarea," said Melvin."The intention was any front-line worker -- nurse,doctor, a first responder of any kind -- and small business owners who havebeen impacted by it, could come get a free drink."He started offering afree cup of Joe, or any drink on the menu, toward the end of December, but nowthat word is out he's decided to continue the gesture through the end ofJanuary, he said."I don't just want to have good drinks, I want to also bea real part of our community and focus on making connections with all thecustomers that come into our shop. This has allowed us to really capitalize onthe mission we already aim to pursue," he said.

"Being a part of the community and making connections withpeople right now, what that looks like, is intentional kindness.The promotionalso hits particularly close to home for Melvin.

"I take a very particularjoy and thrill at seeing the community come into the coffee shop," hesaid."My dad is a first responder, and his co-workers will come downrather frequently to support me, and they were particularly thankful becausethey always pay for their coffee."Melvin said one of his favorite momentswas when some police officers came in for a break during their shift to enjoy afree cup of coffee."I was really thankful that my landlord, wants us as abusiness, to do well, and allowed this idea to come to fruition and we coulduse this to become even more a part of the community," said Melvin.

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