City of Brunswick launches small business micro-grant

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BRUNSWICK, Md. (WDVM) — On the brick-front entrance of Beans in the Belfry’s historic church building are messages of hope that soon, the inside will be filled with customers, orders, and better times for the business. 

“I thought ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to be the best year ever,” co-owner of the cafe, Hanna Politis, recalls thinking at the beginning of the 2020.

But after 16 years of service, sales are hitting a new low as the coronavirus pandemic is keeping customers at home. 

“We are down 80 percent of our business,” Politis said, “Not really fine, but we are surviving.”

Politis estimates the cafe is earning about $1,100 a week from sales. With monthly bills from insurance, internet, and general cost of operations, those sales aren’t meeting the expense demands. 

Earlier this month, the City of Brunswick announced a $1,000 micro-grant for small businesses that have suffered at least a 50 percent revenue loss.

“They’re our neighbors, they’re our friends that opened the bike shop or have the ice cream shop downtown. It was a good way, I think, for [the city council] to impact as many businesses as possible,” explained council member for the City of Brunswick, John Dayton, “It’s not going to cover probably someone’s entire rent or anything like that but, it will certainly, hopefully, help provide some peace of mind.”

So far, 18 local businesses were approved for the micro-grant, including Beans in the Belfry.

Politis says heading into May, all that funding will go towards paying their staff and bills. 

After an in-depth talk with fellow owner, Melanie DiPasquale, staff members committed to keeping their shifts.

Anna Windsor, one of multiple baristas at Beans in the Belfry, recalls the staff gathering to talk about how the pandemic would impact the cafe. At the end of the discussion, she and many other decided to continue working with safety protocols.  

“It has been very difficult not having the same supply, income-wise, as we’re used to but it’s like I said, we’re kind of a family,” Windsor explained. 

The cafe is hopeful to reopen fully soon. 

“Our asset is really the inside of the room. People like to come in and sit, and be with friends,” Politis said. 

For more information on Beans in the Belfry, visit http://www.beansinthebelfry.com/
For more information on the City of Brunswick, visit https://brunswickmd.gov/

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