ST. PETERSBURG, FL — Difficult decisions have been added to everyday life of small-business owners during the coronavirus pandemic, and The Blend owner Stacha Madsen faced a tough call when she had to let her daughter and other works go from their downtown location.
"I think the hardest thing to do was having to lay off my daughter," Madsen told Patch. "We're both super positive, and we believe that if you stay positive everything will work out."
Madsen considers her daughter, Nichole McVicar, her best friend, so the two then prepared to open a second coffee and wine location in St. Petersburg.
"She's my best friend in the world, so we were just going to go with it, and whatever happens happens," Madsen said. "And it was a double whammy because I had to lay her off as an employee, and I couldn't help her with bills because I wasn't generating any income. But we stayed positive and we worked through it, and now here we are."
Their first location opened in late 2019 in the Tampa Bay Times building in downtown St. Pete. That location struggled when most of their customer base, who are employees in that building, started working from home as the pandemic continued. Madsen was told the loyal customers at this location would not return to work until either July or August.
She cut her hours to temporary in that location, and since fear doesn't control Madsen, she opened the second coffee and wine location on Fourth Street North on June 19. And hired her daughter.
"We were hoping to have the downtown location up and successfully running for six months before we opened this one, but you just have to go with it," Madsen said with a laugh. "It's all about how you perceive things, and I have an optimistic view."
Madsen and McVicar owned a coffee shop in Seattle for 13 years before moving to St. Petersburg over a year and a half ago. They brought a taste of Seattle to their St. Pete locations by offering white espresso on their menu.
White espresso is opposite of what you would normally expect from regular espresso shots. White espresso is lightly roasted and has a higher level of caffeine. If you don't like the taste of coffee but need a wake-me-up in the morning then white espresso could be something to try. It also has a light color to it. Or cool off with an espresso shot mixed with ice cream.
"When someone orders a mocha or a latte with a white espresso, they'll get their drink, look at it and say, 'Hey, you forgot to put coffee in my drink,' and I'll tell them that the coffee is in there—the white espresso is hard to see because of its light color."
The spacious and laid back venue makes it easy to practice social distancing as you work or study, and it also serves wine, kombucha, beer on tap and food. Live music and game night are events Madsen plans to add after things calm down in the future with the pandemic.
The Fourth Street location is located at 1211 Fourth St. North, and its hours of operation are Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information about The Blend's newest location, visit their Facebook page.