DOVER – Restaurant owner Kaley Rae Fellows closed her vegan cafe this month for an extended holiday weekend on July 4th as she pondered if and how to stay in business.
Despite being eligible for a grant from the US Small Business Administration’s $ 28.6 billion restaurant revitalization fund, federal funding dried up before her application was processed, so she faced the prospect of a permanent closure.
Not wanting to go out of business anytime soon, she ran a crowdfunding campaign GoFundMe to keep their doors open as long as possible.
Within two weeks, she received more than half the amount the federal grant would have given her, which helped to suddenly make up for the more than $ 10,000 hole Dismissal of funds to revitalize restaurants.
“Whether or not we met the fundraiser’s goal, the support has been so tremendously helpful and uplifting,” said Fellows. “It will allow us to expand our hours and our team, with enough to do some updates in the kitchen. The working hours were a big challenge for me because I was limited in my options. “
Fellows said she was grateful for the people who reached out to offer advice and directions on how to apply for additional funding. This led them to learn more about that Dover CARE Dover small business sponsorship program that she is interested in applying for.
“The encouragement I have received is very valuable to me, especially when you lose hope and are unsure whether you really have the energy to keep fighting for your business,” said Fellows. “No matter what happens in the future, when I look back, I am so proud to be part of this community and how we have all stuck together to make it last.”
Not all contacts were positive
While Fellows has received many positive words from other business owners and members of the community, not all have been positive. After Fellows in Foster’s Daily Democrat. was presented earlier this month, Fellows was attacked on social media for their efforts to save their business. Some said if she needed help she should give up, others made targeted comments about her as a young entrepreneur and made their struggles on limited hours and root be a vegan cafe.
“Restaurants across the region face similar challenges with limited hours, menus, staff and seating,” said Fellows. “It’s easy to point a finger, but these are challenges everyone faces.”
Fellows don’t let the negativity stop them from saving their business. Instead, she focuses on what her customers want to see. She conducted a number of surveys in her Instagram story, asks her followers if they prefer breakfast or dinner, longer opening hours on weekdays or during the week, and indoor or outdoor seating.
“With our roots community standing up for us, we want to make sure we deliver exactly what they’re looking for this summer,” said Fellows. “It will help determine the direction we go as we add hours, staff and service. We also asked our customers which specials they would like to see back on the menu and had an overwhelming response Suggestions for things like rolling a vegan lobster. “
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The master plan
Fellows planned to maintain and expand their services and offerings with federal funds in order to better position their company for the future. These plans included more staff and dinner, plus a beer and wine selection with homemade cocktails. While now may not be the right time to realize the full vision, Fellows said it is still part of the master plan she envisions for Roots in the future.
“I see ourselves as brave in the future, have good breakfast options, have specific nights and weekends that we stay open late and have additional offers,” said Fellows. “In the meantime, I have to focus from week to week and month to month.”