Co-owner of Franny Lou’s Porch, a cafe and community space at 2400 Coral St.
Interviewed in May 2021
Editor’s note: The following responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
1. How were things for you and your business in the beginning of the pandemic? How would you compare the state of your business from then to now?
There was a lot of change at once. We went from thousands of dollars a day to $50 a day within a week. We also lost like, $7,000 worth of catering and wholesale in the whole month. And we kind of just waited to see what was our next move. We had some financial cushion because we were doing well [before the pandemic]. That’s the thing, we were actually doing very well. And then when everything happened, we were like, “Ah!”
Once we re-opened, we installed a little window on the outside of the building, we started serving outside, and then our numbers started to increase. We’re still a little down. For instance, we’ll do $500 a day instead of $800 a day, but we have a new system. We have different things we can offer.
2. Can you describe how the City of Philadelphia has supported business owners throughout the pandemic? Have you felt supported by the city?
Giving us resources is really helpful. Like, “Hey, there’s gonna be a seminar on how to deal with this emergency grant that’s coming out.” Or, “Here’s how to do outside seating. This is how you can space people apart.” It’s helpful that there are different committees that have creatively helped small businesses with that.
3. Can you share your experience with managing safety in your business throughout the pandemic? (mask mandates, capacity restrictions, social distancing, etc.)
We have two areas of safety: customers and employees because they’re all people. So, inside the building and outside, we write little signs [encouraging social distancing]. We don’t really have to enforce a lot on the customers because the state has already enforced a lot of its mandates on people. We have a little hand sanitizer out for them if they want. We do accept cash. We have a garden for outside seating. And customers keep [to themselves] naturally. They’ll determine if they feel comfortable or not, and we trust our customers to do what they feel is comfortable for them.
Within the staff, we have to wear masks if we’re inside, if we’re working with other people. We wash our hands right when we come in.
4. What is the best way for people to support your business?
Come be here! We have a rad live market every other Saturday to highlight business owners and artists and makers in the neighborhood. If you haven’t been here for a while, make it your destination for the day to see an event. You’ll see that it’s really a space to be relaxed. That was our mission before the pandemic mess: to rest and be kind to one another and really value each other. It’s more important now. It’s always more important in general, but now people understand it a little more.
Editors: Khysir Carter, Jillian Bauer-Reese, Solmaira Valerio, Zari Tarazona / Designer: Henry Savage