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Local coffee shop takes advantage of COVID-19 through renovations

The Grind coffee shop in downtown Morgantown reopened indoor seating to customers this week for the first time since last March.

However, the time spent closed did not go to waste.

Tia Easton, owner of The Grind, decided to take advantage of the closure by renovating the shop’s dining area over the past six weeks. 

“We decided to take advantage of the pandemic,” Easton said. “Typically, we are incredibly busy and it’s hard to close for a day or two in order to do those types of renovations.”

Several upgrades were made, including removing the ceiling, installing a new window connecting the service area and dining area, upgrading the bathroom and adding a HEPA filter to keep the air clean.

Easton said she purchased the shop five years ago, and made several small changes in the past, such as replacing the carpeted floors and repainting the walls. Prior to COVID-19, the shop relied on holiday weekends or short-term closure to complete any upgrades.

Until Wednesday, the shop only offered take-out and limited outdoor seating.  Easton and her staff decided early on to follow strict precautions to keep themselves and customers safe. 

“I’m really proud of [the staff]. I don’t think I could have done it without them,” Easton said. “They have just worked super-hard to ensure that we were safe and could stay open throughout the pandemic.”

professors at The Grind
WVU Psychic professors Matthew Johnson “Doctor J” and Alan Bristow enjoy a afternoon coffee at The Grind.

The shop has adopted safety measures to continue keeping customers and staff safe. Hand sanitizer is available for use, seats are spaced six feet apart and are sanitized after each use, masks are required unless actively eating or drinking, and disposable containers are used for food and drinks.

Many of the renovations have also added to the safety of the dining area. Easton said the old ceiling was porous and collected dust and bacteria, but the new, open ceiling helps prevent that. The new window also helps staff to monitor the dining area, allowing them to know when tables need to be sanitized. 

Renovations were not the only silver lining Easton found during the pandemic. When the dining area initially closed, she invited local artists to paint murals on the walls. Some ended up being removed due to the renovations, but she said she hopes to invite the artists back in soon to continue adding art.

“We were just kind of trying to provide an outlet in a really difficult time for everyone,” Easton said. 

Another addition customers will soon be able to take advantage of is a free library. Visitors will be welcome to take books from the bookshelves or leave books for others to use. 

“We’re really excited,” Easton said. “We’re just happy to serve the community again.”

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