Owning a small business has never been for the faint of heart, but the last few years have been especially challenging.
According to The Small Business Administration (SBA), about 80% of new businesses survive the first year.
However, only about 33% of businesses remain in operation 10 years after launching.
I haven’t seen a more recent estimate, but judging by the time I spend in downtown Morgantown, many businesses have had to reduce hours, move locations, or close altogether.
The Blue Moose Cafe at 248 Walnut St. is one local enterprise that has stood the test of time. In fact, it has been in operation for nearly 30 years. The Blue Moose first opened in 1993, and then it was sold to Gary Tennenbaum, a one-time employee.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, The Blue Moose was known for its aura of early 90s coffeehouse culture. It was a social hub built around coffee, live music, open mics, art exhibitions and readings. In the years since 2020, The Blue Moose has recalibrated and adapted. It weathered closures and financial struggles due to a lack of customers. It hit pause on large gatherings like open mic nights. The kitchen closed, meaning the menu has been scaled back to lighter fare such as bagels and pastries.
Through it all, The Blue Moose has maintained its quality of beverages, personable customer service, and quirky sense of style. Customers can appreciate the work of local artists displayed throughout the space. Because the building is on a corner, there are large spans of windows on two elevations. This results in an abundance of natural light that both human customers and the large collection of mature houseplants (cafeplants?) can enjoy. And, of course, there is the requisite set of moose antlers mounted on the wall to oversee operations.
While it has been pared back in recent years, The Blue Moose Cafe still possesses all the fundamental elements of a thriving cultural scene. With time, care, and customers, I believe it will be a vibrant cultural hub for years to come.
EVA MURPHY is a freelance business writer for The Dominion Post. She writes a column on businesses, churches and other entities in the city. To suggestion a topic, email her at Newsroom@DominionPost.com.