Two new Memphis Black-owned businesses open during pandemic

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It’s no secret, this year has been a tough one for our small businesses with strict new restrictions and guidelines.

But imagine trying to open a brand-new business during the pandemic.

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Muggin Coffee House is already making a name for itself in Whitehaven.

But co-owner Kenneth Olds said it was a challenge. The new black-owned coffee shop had to shift gears before they even opened its doors.

“It wasn’t in our business plan for a pandemic,” said Olds. “At that point, we had to keep social distancing in mind and making sure everyone had masks available so Mary and I sat down and we talked about what does a grand opening look like?”

Old said they scrapped the idea of a traditional grand opening and used social media to spread the word about the new shop. They had a soft opening on July 3.

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“To have lines all the way down the sidewalk, you know people waiting to come in and it’s still been going well,” said Olds.

Tapping into the music and culture of Memphis, Beale St. Brewing Company released its first two beers at the end of March as COVID-19 closures hit the city. This forced owner Kelvin Kolhiem to rethink how to debut his brews.

“It was kind of like a ghost release and luckily for us, it gained some traction and people seem to love it, said Kolheim.

Kolhiem said his brews are available in liquor stores, Kroger and most craft beer shops but he almost opened a physical store which may have been a challenge to maintain but now he’s facing a different one.

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“It’s a challenge to keep the beer on the shelf right now for us and that’s a great thing, a great problem to have,” said Kolhiem.

Both businesses already have plans for expansions.

Olds said Muggin Coffee House will start curbside pickup soon and their second location will include a drive-thru.

Kolhiem said he wants to open a brick and mortar store in the future.

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