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Owner of Jam N Bean faces multiple setbacks due to COVID-19

Posted at 4:45 PM, Aug 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-20 16:45:35-04

A small business hit hard by both the pandemic and the riots in Grand Rapids took yet another hit when the owner's family was diagnosed with COVID 19.

Jam N Bean in Cascade Township has been in business for nearly a decade. This year has been harder than anything they've been through so far.

“Corona hits in March, I end up closing my downtown location, sort of right in the way of the harm's way of the rioting, which didn’t help. Turned the downtown Ottawa into a ghost town,” Owner Doug Lee said.

Doug Lee says they simply couldn't staff their two other locations, keeping their original store in Cascade open was enough of a struggle.

“We just simply didn’t have enough staffing, our employees were laid off. They were making more money on unemployment. And when they came back to work, they came with such negative attitudes, you almost couldn’t even be around them. It was toxic,” Lee said.

The family was working in overdrive to make up for the staffing issues.

“So you’ve got two locations shut down. You’ve got catering completely gone. We’re a family run business…we’re all kind of pitching in. Reduced hours..because you can’t work 24/7,” Lee said.

Then, things got harder. Lee, his wife, his son, and his daughter-in-law all got COVID-19.

“We end up all getting COVID at the exact same time,” Lee said.

They had to shut down the Cascade Township store as well.

“We had a couple nights with sweats, we had a tickle in the back of our throat, we lost our sense of smell, and then we had like five days of extreme fatigue,” Lee said.

Jam N Bean opened back up Saturday. Thursday was Doug's first day back at work.

“We decided we just cannot wait for customers to return. We have to change our business model. Which is exactly what we’re doing,” Lee said.

They're making a lot of strategic changes, like starting to manufacture K-Cups as well as other coffee products to sell, because their retails stores just aren't enough to keep going.

Still, Doug says he's not giving up.

"I’m still to the point where I’m willing to go one more round,” Lee said.