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New Glarus coffee shop grinds out business amid pandemic

Published: Oct. 23, 2020 at 10:29 AM CDT
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NEW GLARUS, Wis. (WMTV) - During the month of October, we are highlighting small businesses all over the area as they adapt to the constant changes due to the pandemic.

Fat Cat Coffee Works in New Glarus is the kind of place where the employees know your name and your order by heart. It’s that closeness to the community that has helped this small business survive during the pandemic.

“We are really lucky to be surrounded by an extremely amazing community of people,” said Ally Prigge. Prigge’s mother Anne Miller and stepdad John own the shop.

The business has been in her family almost 14 years. “I’m really proud of what they’ve built,” she said.

The building is an old sawmill that sits along the Sugar River State Trail. It’s a popular stop for bicyclists. Prigge’s family believes the long layout of the building has helped keep them and their customers safe.

“We have four different windows that we operate in and out of,” said Prigge. When the pandemic hit, they decided not allow customers inside the building to limit the of people coming in contact with employees and each other.

Ally Prigge pours a cup of Joe
Ally Prigge pours a cup of Joe(Tim Elliott)

They are still grinding out business, despite technically closing their doors.

“We literally locked our doors and opened our windows eight months ago, I believe it was March 16th,” said Prigge.

So instead of coming inside, customers walk up to the windows to place their order.

“We are operating with all of our traffic flow outdoors,” said Miller. “We cursed the layout (before the pandemic) but now we look at it like wow, we have these bays of windows,”

Despite the changes, Miller estimates that her business is down about 20% during the pandemic.

“And in a small business setting, that is a staggering percentage,” she said.

But as long as customers keep coming, Fat Cat Coffee Works will be there to take their order.

“The virus has really shown what they (customers) mean to us, which is the world,” said Miller.

“We are determined to continue to adapt and to continue to roll with the times,” added Prigge. “It is what it is and what are you going to do about it, except your best?”

Fat Cat Coffee Works is getting creative this fall. They will debut a new pop up food trailer in Paoli soon.

If you’d like to support small businesses in our area, visit www.supportoursmallbusinesses.com

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