This article (featuring Grounds for Coffee) is part of an ongoing series showcasing the diversity of businesses and local nonprofit organizations in Ogden funded by the Ogden CARES Grant Program. Ogden CARES was funded by the federal CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF). CRF could only fund, “necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19).” Ogden City used CRF from both Weber County and the State of Utah to fund the Ogden CARES program. Ogden City received three tapered rounds of CRF between Jun. through Nov. 2020 and, consequently, administered three rounds of Ogden CARES. This series highlights four Ogden CARES grantees adversely impacted by COVID-19 and how they received support from Ogden CARES. With help from Ogden CARES funds, Grounds for Coffee was able to maintain a healthy level of staffing, cover expenses stemming from safety and public health procedures, and launch a mobile app for contactless ordering.
Read more about the Ogden CARES program in the first article in the series, the "Final Report."
Read about the first nonprofit featured in the series, "United Way of Northern Utah."
Read about the first for-profit business featured in the series, "Transcend Innovations."
Read about the second nonprofit featured in the series, "Boys & Girls Clubs of Weber-Davis."
One of the many food-oriented businesses helped by the Ogden CARES grant program was Grounds for Coffee. The first Grounds for Coffee outside Salt Lake City was opened by Suzy Dailey and her husband Dan, who would later secure the logo and branding for the company after most locations had closed following a loss of leadership and a failed initial public offering.
The Daileys’ location was one of only two locations to stay open following what Dailey described as the “implosion” of the original company. The Daileys established their own franchising agreement, and, since then, seven additional locations have opened from Marriott-Slaterville to Layton. Dailey said their franchising agreement is unique, as they had already experienced being on the other side of the contract. If a company decided, after five years of being in business, they no longer wanted to be a Grounds for Coffee, “no worries,” Dailey said, “Pull all the logos, take everything down, and be ‘John’s Coffee Shop.’”
“I never wanted to litigate, that was always my goal” Suzy Dailey said. “Provide enough to keep the franchising costs low, and the service high, so someone always wanted to stay on board with us. The only thing we stipulate is the menu—the way the drinks are made, the ingredients they use, and the recipe—so there’s consistency.”
The reason for this style of management, according to Suzy Dailey, is to make every owner feel like the store is theirs—to look like a local, independent coffee shop; each store is unique and different.
“After work and home, where do you go to just spend time?” Dailey said. “Each store needs to be comfortable and to appeal to different people. If every store looked the same, we’d just reduce the appeal. It does make it feel like it’s yours.”
When COVID hit, Dailey said the situation was reminiscent of the 2008 economic downturn but with all the added wrinkles of social distancing, increased sanitization protocols, and other COVID-related safety practices.
“I went from a staff of about 15 down to five; if one person gets sick, that’s 20 percent of my staff,” Dailey said, “so, we had to get pretty militant about our policies.”
Business was slower, certainly, but operation continued. Coffee, she said, seems to be one of the last things people will give up, even when financially strained. Though customers were disappointed they were unable to enjoy their coffee in a dine-in setting, they largely understood the alternative would likely mean their favorite coffee shop closing, even if only temporarily.
With cut hours and, according to Dailey, a drop in sales of roughly 40 percent, ensuring employees were paid—even when out sick—was a priority. Dailey said the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) allowed them to keep on all employees who wanted to be there. For other expenses, including those stemming from the safety protocols and the development and launch of an ordering app, Dailey said she was grateful for help from Ogden CARES.
“You do make a lot of mistakes in business, and you own those—you have to. But, when something like this happens, and you’re just like, ‘This is not something I did, and I have no control over it,’ it’s reassuring to know your city is a safety net for you,” Dailey said. “Not that you can go out and be super reckless or be greedy, because that’s not the point of it. Just to know that people who put their heart and soul everyday into their businesses, when something like this happens, there’s somebody there who’s going to guide you through it. I can’t express how thankful we are to have had that support from Ogden City.”
According to Dailey, the relationship between city and business works best when it’s reciprocal. Ogden is made up of the businesses within it, and the city understands the importance of local, independent business and how it creates a sense of place. Dailey said Ogden wouldn’t be the city it is without the businesses, the university, Union Station, and everything else making up a synergistic community helping Ogden do what it does best.