GREAT FALLS — On March 27th, Electric City Coffee Bar & Bistro posted the following message on their Facebook page: “It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to temporarily close as of Friday, March 27th, 2020 at 3 pm—to help combat the spread of Coronavirus. We love our community and want to ensure our team and families are safe as well.”
Nearly one month later, and oh how the tables have turned.
“From March 27th to now, people still just wanted some of those things that we do,” explained Electric City Coffee Co-Owner Heidi Reiste. “We do the gluten-free and vegan and (people) didn’t have the option to have that from many other places in town. Some folks just have been loyal customers and they’re just an amazing community, that they’re still trying to help provide gift certificates and purchase different things. We’re going to be doing some family meals for folks this Friday, so it’s been nice to still be able to provide those items to our customers and not be open to the public.”
Heidi said that this wasn’t the original plan. As so many other local businesses have had to do during the COVID-19 pandemic, Electric City Coffee had to choose between staying open on a delivery/takeout basis only, or closing completely until further notice. They chose the latter, but the community did not.
People reached out to Heidi and her husband, Thad, asking for cakes, pies, and pastries. So many people, apparently, that the owners had no choice but to oblige.
“It’s really us just being in there and then the individuals coming to pick it up, it’s just literally curbside and they pick it up, pay for it online and everything,” Heidi explained. “Really, the store is closed to the public, and these are only specialty orders that are being ordered through a private Facebook or a text message and we’re going in and getting those done for them.”
Not just now, but ever since the local coffee shop opened in January of 2015, community support has been at the core of their success. Heidi explained that it’s a feeling she gets when she’s sitting behind the counter. People come in for pastries and coffee, but they also come in for friendship and comradery. People meet at Electric City, and say things like “good to see you again” and how are you?”
The store was also forced to furlough some of its employees for the time being, a decision that Heidi says was one of the toughest she’s had to make since Coronavirus took over our lives. Their sales dropped by almost 50% over the course of a few weeks, then again in another week. It was tough, but temporary.
“The biggest thing for Thad and I is we want to employ our staff, we want our team to come back and enjoy working for our community and providing amazing and healthy food and options and coffee,” she said. “You know everyone needs coffee. That was the hardest thing for Thad and I, but at the same time, for the safety of our staff, it was the right thing to do.”
For now, if you want your Electric City Coffee Bar fix, Heidi says the best way to get in touch with her is through a private Facebook or text message.