by Charles Peckman
“When I came in today, I was so nervous,” Jacqueline Miland said. “I was like, ‘Wow this coronavirus thing — and everybody that’s leaving and hearing about how they’re shutting down the UI,’ I was like, ‘This is not going to be good for business.’ ”
Jacqueline’s new coffee shop, Mamitas Coffee, has only been open for a month, but the caffeination hotspot has already garnered a loyal fan base, which is good for business when business is bad. Like now, during the COVID-19 quarantine.
Established in a defunct futon shop, of all places, Mammitas offers a variety of coffee-infused concoctions, not to mention freshly-made horchata and flan.
Mammitas is located in a college town — the University of Iowa’s campus. Jacqueline said she “adores” feeding hungry college students and wishes to be “every customer’s mom.” This is evident in the white chocolate drizzle (as she calls it, “a little love”) she adds to the top of horchata and the friendly banter injected into each customer’s visit.
A month into operation, however, the seemingly impossible — a global pandemic — became a reality. Local businesses began closing their doors. Signs adorned otherwise glistening windows with simple messages. “For obvious reasons, we’re closed until further notice,” one read. Despite these closures, some events continued as planned.
On the night of March 12, Mammitas was supposed to cater a large music event. The day before the concert, however, the organization canceled its events for the remainder of the semester. Jacqueline said she was despondent; she opened her doors a month ago, and the food for the concert was already ordered.
Despite trepidation, Jacqueline showed up for work the next morning. She turned on the lights, fired up the espresso machine and began to come to terms with the fact that quite possibly, she would not get any business that day.
The organization hosting the canceled music series, Scope, is a student-run production company. Upon learning about Jacqueline’s situation, Scope’s members took to social media and urged everyone in the University of Iowa community to buy their coffee at Mammitas. In a matter of two hours, the line was out the door — students, faculty members and townies alike had read the Twitter posts, which had been circulated dozens of times.
By midday, the pastry case was empty. This was also around the time that one of Jacqueline’s employees showed up to assist with the influx of customers. A few reporters from local newspapers had to wait over two hours for an interview. As Mammitas closed its doors for the night, Jacqueline said she was taken aback by the kindness the community had shown her.
“It just gives me hope for the future because the coronavirus may be here now, but it’s not going to be here forever,” she said. “We’re going to get through this as a people — as a community — and it just gives me so much love.”
In the days following this showing of community, a closed sign appeared on Mammitas’ door, too. Although the coffee shop may be closed for now along with other businesses in Iowa City, Jacqueline said she hopes the community continues to show examples of kindness throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Aid for Students
As countless businesses close temporarily, many University of Iowa students have found themselves without a job. The good news, however, is that the UI has set up an emergency student fund to help impacted students with microgrants that aim to alleviate temporary financial concerns.
This story was originally published in the TRIBAL under the TRIBAL Premium Partner Program. More information about TRIBAL can be found at https://tribalapp.com/