Home Coffee shop When COVID shut down Waller Cafe, community members came to the rescue – Decaturish

When COVID shut down Waller Cafe, community members came to the rescue – Decaturish


Greater Decatur, Georgia — After testing positive for COVID-19, Waller’s Coffee owner Jason Waller had to shut down the business for a few days. A community member wondered what she could do to help, so she organized a GoFundMe page to help the cafe.

Decatur resident Marnie Grodzin was hoping to lend support to Waller who was recovering from COVID-19. On the fundraising page, she wrote that the monetary support will not only help ease Waller’s spirit, but will also help keep the cafe in existence.

“Deep in my heart, I just wanted him to be able to rest, get well, and be back at Waller’s because he’s built a place. [that does] exactly what he intended to do in terms of community, a great cafe providing music to people,” Grodzin said.

Waller’s Coffee opened in the Greater Decatur area in 2019 to serve coffee and baked goods, as well as host events and provide a spacious outdoor seating area.

“I am a music lover. I wanted to have a concert hall. I wanted to serve delicious coffee. I wanted to provide for my family,” Waller said. “It all started with a fairly serious episode of depression where I saw no point in it. I started to pull myself together, to come to my senses.

Waller said it all happened in a flash after talking to other artists and people about mental health issues, coffee and music. The result was the community the store created.

“That’s my new motivation, is to continue to focus on the community aspect of coffee and what we can deliver with the outdoor space,” Waller said.

On the GoFundMe page, Grodzin wrote that “the beauty of our community is in the small businesses that give us a unique flavor and experience. I think it goes without saying that Waller’s Coffee Shop is one of the businesses that so many of us call home as one of our coffee destinations, music venues, meeting spaces, nature therapy, and more.

She recently realized that she had a neighbor who went to Waller’s every day with her dog, had a coffee and left some more, and that was her routine.

“I would hate for it to be another loss for someone if it’s part of their day and brings them some comfort or anchors them in the moment because it’s such a beautiful place outside,” said said Grodzin.

The fundraiser had an initial goal of $3,000, and Grodzin said within 24 hours about $2,000 had been raised. She eventually increased the goal to $5,000 and $4,998 has been raised so far through 112 donations.

“It’s not surprising, just knowing what Waller means to the community,” Grodzin said of his reaction to seeing the fundraising success. “I think in 24 hours we were around $2,000. All I really did was share it via Facebook in a few neighborhood groups and on my page, and I made a post on Nextdoor.

She added that there are names she recognizes when it comes to people who donated, but there are others she doesn’t know. She loves seeing this because it shows the large group of people who support Waller’s Coffee Shop.

Last year, Waller’s hosted a variety of events like open-mic nights, disc golf, concerts in outer space, an artists’ market, and brunches.

“We were doing a lot of things. Lots of community oriented events. People were able to rent the space for just about anything they could think of,” Waller said. “We were really busy. It’s a sharp change to go back to the start of the pandemic feel. »

He added that the store is starting the new year with some hesitation. Activity was skyrocketing in early 2020 until the pandemic hit.

“It’s been a long journey to open anyway, and so now we’re coming to three years of opening in February, and I’ve done more in a pandemic than not. It’s just a bizarre series of events,” Waller said. “But we are open now. A local client and friend have started a GoFundMe, so I can at least pay the rent for this month and not feel so much panic and urgency to make my next pivot to get back on track.

Waller said he was initially embarrassed about fundraising and didn’t want it to be a thing after spending a lot of time raising money to keep the place open. But he ultimately focused on supporting his customers.

“I haven’t begged for money for so long. It’s like a sense of pride, I guess,” Waller said. “I swallowed it pretty quickly and started looking at who could support me. It was really humbling and a reminder that we’ve built something really cool here. There’s a lot of people who want it to continue. It definitely encourages me to keep working, to keep fighting for it.

The store closed on December 29, 2021 and opened for adjusted hours and take-out orders on January 4. Waller said he was lucky to have systems in place that didn’t require him to be physically at the store for it to open. .

“It was not a good week, but we were still able to be open and I was able to pay my employees. I was actually able to pay my employees for the work they missed while I was sick because of this GoFundMe,” he said. “I really enjoyed it. It’s one thing for the company to take a hit, but I also hate how it affects my staff.

Waller said the customer and community support is overwhelming and he loves seeing the interactions people have with each other when visiting each other over a cup of coffee. He added that everyone who has invested time and energy into Waller’s Coffee is the one who helps keep the place open.

“I can be behind the bar, so to speak, and just watch it all unfold,” Waller said. “I’m happy to say that I’ve contributed a bit to building this community of people. I like to think of myself as an enabler more than a creator. That’s what this place does. It’s a helping out to get people to enjoy life or deal with whatever is going on with them I feel a sense of pride.

Waller’s Cafe is located at 240 DeKalb Industrial Way in Decatur and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Indoor and outdoor seating is available.

If you appreciate our work, thank you become a paying supporter. For as little as $3 a month, you can help us keep you up to date with your community. To become a supporter, click here.

Want Decaturish delivered to your inbox every day? Subscribe to our free newsletter by clicking here.