Lamplighter Coffee Roasters shuttered its Fan location to cut costs during the coronavirus pandemic.
Co-owner Noelle Forest said the coffee house chain’s outpost at 26 N. Morris St. was too expensive to run without the ability to reintroduce regular indoor service for the foreseeable future.
“The overhead is just so high and the view is just so uncertain,” said Forest, who is managing member of the company.
Lamplighter offers curbside-only service at its original cafe at 116 S. Addison St. The company’s cafe and roasting facility at 1719 Summit Ave. in Scott’s Addition remains temporarily closed to customers. Lamplighter temporarily closed the Morris Street and Summit Avenue cafes in mid-March.
The Morris Street spot opened in 2014, when Lamplighter took it over from Crossroads Coffee and Ice Cream.
Though other eateries and cafes have reopened indoor dining areas as allowed by loosened public health orders from the state government, Lamplighter has chosen to operate in a more limited fashion. Forest said the decisions about how to operate during the pandemic have been a collaborative process between management and employees, and not everyone feels comfortable with reopening indoor areas yet.
“I won’t reopen the shop until the entire staff feels safe,” Forest said. “If we go out of business, then I guess we go out of business.”
Lamplighter doesn’t allow customers to enter the Addison Street cafe, instead handling transactions outdoors. The cafe, which is open daily, has set up a socially distanced seating area across the street from the cafe. Business has picked up, but it continues to be a challenge to keep revenue flowing, Forest said.
Lamplighter intends to reopen its Summit Avenue cafe to customers at some point, and reevaluates the cafe’s status monthly. Lamplighter has allowed Richmond Mutual Aid, a local activist group, to use the cafe rent-free since early spring. The group uses the cafe area to store donated goods and operates a call center there as well.
The company plans to renovate the interior and tweak the menu of the Summit Avenue cafe before it reopens to customers.