Mexico Beach coffee shop opens just 5 weeks after Hurricane Michael, adapts for workers

National

MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – The owner of a Mexico Beach coffee shop worked hard to get his store open so he could serve the community just five weeks after Hurricane Michael made landfall in the town.

Dave Kiser admits Caribbean Coffee was a mess after the storm moved through. He had issues from holes in his walls to losing a shelving unit after debris blew through one of his business’ windows.

“It was a mess. It was a big mess. We had no running water so we were having to bring water in for cleaning,” Kiser told 8 On Your Side.

Through the struggle of repairing, he knew he had to open not just for those who remained in the community, but for himself and the workers coming in to clear up the town and help repair.

“It was, for my own sanity, it was real important. It looked pretty rough outside. This was a haven for me and for the people that lived here. They could come in here and get away from the disaster they had at the house,” he said.

The first thing they needed to do was adapt to the new normal of Mexico Beach. That meant changing up their menu to suit the workers, instead of tourists. These folks need grab-and-go sandwiches and soft drinks for their short lunch breaks.

“Sandwiches became very popular, which we had hardly done at all before, so we added some fast food sandwiches, three-cheese grilled cheese, stuff like that. Stuff we could throw on the grill and get off in three minutes. We just changed without clientele, we had to,” Kiser explained.

He said those left in the community, as well as other small business owners, responded well to the change in menu.

“They’ve supported us since we’ve opened the door. They were glad to see us.”

Caribbean Coffee lost at least $7,500 in just pastries and goods alone, not counting the expenses to repair the shop.

They also experienced a pretty hefty loss of revenue.

“That was pretty busy months of the year. Right now is Georgia’s fall break and normally we would be packed with tourists. We don’t have any this year, but last year we would have had quite a few if we had been open,” Kiser explained.

The colorful little shop is open on Highway 98 in Mexico Beach every day but Sunday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Business owners in the community want the world to know that Mexico Beach is still here, and they are open.

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