Local Businesses and COVID-19: Zumbach’s Gourmet Coffee


Doug Zumbach and his staff are observing social distancing guidelines at the Pine Street coffee shop. It's open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. for cups and pounds of coffee. Call ahead for pounds. Credit: Michael Dinan

[Editor’s Note: In each daily newsletter this week, the New Canaanite is publishing Q&As with local business owners on how they are faring amid the COVID-19 emergency.]

New Canaan had 24 confirmed cases of the virus as of Saturday evening, according to town Emergency Management Director Mike Handler.

For today’s Q&A, we interviewed Doug Zumbach outside his eponymous coffee shop at Pine and Grove Streets. 

How are you all doing here at Zumbach’s?

Doug Zumbach: The loyal customers are finding us again. I think everyone is adjusting their daily lifestyle, with kids being home. So slowly but surely we are getting clientele. We are servicing outside. But sales are half of what they used to be, both beans and cups. Wholesale business has disappeared entirely—the restaurants, caterers and country clubs. Every retailer such as myself basically has to throw their old business plans away and come up with the new ones, dealing with the environment we are all working within.

What is your expectation about the restrictions as they currently are in place? How far are you anticipating they will be in place? 

Well, personally, I think they need to be kept in place. That may sound contradictory coming from a retailer, who needs the restrictions to go away. But for safety purposes, for our population, I don’t want rash decisions being made too quickly. I think they need to be very careful, and be absolutely sure that the restrictions should be lifted.

Are you anticipating a few months? Into the fall?

I am anticipating into the summer. September. 

What is your ability to navigate that, as a business, and survive? 

Very good question. It’s how to find the business and adjust and create new business, working within this environment. That is what we all have to do. Reach out more with social media. Get the word out that we’re open. The businesses out there, we do have to remain six feet apart. But it’s out there. We just need to convince that person to come back.

What is your message for New Canaanites who are familiar with Zumbach’s, who maybe have just gone by and maybe there hasn’t been anybody outside, they’re not sure? What is your message for them?

Our hours are modified, 8 to 1 in the afternoon, seven days a week. Call for pound orders. We will have them ready for you. I just put a slogan out on the board: ‘Tough times don’t last forever. Tough people do.’ And I think that’s what we all have to be. Tough, to get through this.

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