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We're Open, Arizona: The Traveling Cup bringing coffee to neighborhoods; supporting United Food Bank

Posted at 8:04 AM, Apr 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-08 16:56:38-04

PHOENIX — For many, the day doesn't really begin until you can enjoy a hot cup a joe.

The good news is, some of your favorite local coffee roasters and cafes are open for to-go orders! But, if you can't leave your house or do not feel comfortable doing that, we found a mobile coffee cafe...on wheels!

In our latest "We're Open, Arizona" feature, we're highlighting The Traveling Cup, a mobile coffee truck.

It was founded in 2015 by Brittney Cronen and her dad.

"Our mission was to change the way that people got coffee," she said. "We would go to corporate accounts, such as GoDaddy, Carvana, Drive Time here in the Valley, and go to each employee's desk and take their coffee order. And then we deliver hand-crafted coffee beverages straight back to their desks."

Soon, they went from up truck to three trucks, and opened a cafe at a corporate office. But, everything changed, as it has for so many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Unfortunately, with our business dropping about 90 percent within 24 hours, we have had to temporarily lay off employees. However, that is temporary because as soon as our clients come back open and running, we are ready to have our employees back," she said.

They have also had to think creatively about how to generate business and serve coffee when most people are working from home or staying at home. Suddently, a lightbulb turned on!

"We thought. Well, if all of our customers are working at home, why don't we just deliver it to their door? So, what we are doing now is we are in contact with apartment complexes, neighborhoods in the Valley and we are parking right in front of the apartment complex and we are personally delivering the coffee right to their front door. So, it's the same business model, but now we are taking it to the streets and bringing it to everybody's door instead of their desks," she said.

How do you know where and when they'll be around the Valley? They post their location and cross streets on their social media accounts about 24 hours in advance. You can follow them on Instagram at @_thetravelingcup. View their menu.

And, she is doing it in a safe way to practice social distancing.

"I usually just give the elbow to the doorbell, and I just leave their coffee there. Or, I'll have it on a tray, and I'm wearing gloves. and I'm handing it directly to them. They have the option of us giving it to them or us leaving it on their doorstep," she said.

She said she is amazed at the community that has surrounded them and supported them.

"I'm getting phone calls! I got one last week that someone wanted to cover all the coffees for a distribution center in Phoenix for all the employees that were working. It was such a great way to be able to show appreciation for the people who are working hard during this time to make sure we have the essentials that we need," she said.

They are giving back too. They've partnered with United Food Bank to help donate meals to those in need.

For every four (4) coffees sold, they will provide one meal to someone in need. They have a goal of donating 1,000 meals, and they seem to be off to the races!

"So far, since we've partnered with them in a week, 135 meals. We have a lot to go, but it's those little wins that are getting us through this time," she said.

"Being a small business owner, I unfortunately, can't just go donate a large sum of money. So, I'm just like, how can I help and give back to the community?" she said.

Brittney went on to express how important it is to give and how that experience is priceless. That must be where her daughter gets it from. She's five years old, and she likes to help out too! She told me about how she helps take orders, and then let's the staff know what the customer wants. Sometimes, she'll greet patrons by asking, "Anybody want coffee?" How can you turn that down?

And how is it, Brittney, that you always keep the glass half full? With infectious energy, she said, "Through this all, we have the choice to either shut down or turn up. And I'm turning up! We were in this comfortable, coasting stage... But, comfort and growth don't go together. So, we've gotten uncomfortable and now we are growing."

Brittney is in touch daily with the employees she laid off temporarily. She shares what progress has been made, checks in on them to make sure they're healthy and staying positive.

From this family-run business to your family at home, Brittney wanted to share some perspective. "We forget to remember there are families behind these small businesses, employees that have families as well. And that one purchase could help support keeping the lights on for them, or providing essential needs they need for their families. So, I would say, go support your local businesses."

She shared another ideas. If you can't make a purchase, you can always go "like" their social media pages, or share their pages. You might have someone on your friend's list who is looking to support a small business. Writing a review or sending in a positive message can go a long way too, helping businesses and the people who are part of them, get through these tough times.

Brittney and her daughter have a message for you! They held up some cups as if to gesture a "cheers", and said with big smiles, "We're Open, Arizona!"

We're Open, Arizona: We know this is a tough time for a lot of people in our community, including local restaurants and businesses. As local spots continue to serve takeout, look for ways to safely do business, and give back to our community, we want to share their stories. Visit abc15.com/open or email us at OpenInAZ@abc15.com.