Owner of Lapin Pressé faces adversity head onQuebec · Jun 16, 2020
Jonathan Ayers, owner of Lapin Pressé in Montreal
Small business owners often feel like they have to handle everything on their own. But Jonathan Ayers, owner of Lapin Pressé, has learnt that being overly hardheaded can be disastrous in the pandemic. He’s acknowledging the tough times he’s found himself in and coped by being open to the support of others.
“My advice to small business owners is to ask for help, speak the truth about their circumstances and be frank with their staff, suppliers, banks, landlords, customers. One cannot know from which avenues this help may arrive, but it cannot come if one pretends that ‘everything will be ok’ or that one can do it all alone.” – Jonathan Ayers, co-owner of Lapin Pressé.
After studying abroad, Jonathan Ayers and his business partner, Sylvain Paré, returned to Montreal with a craving for high-quality espresso. The problem? There were few places to get their fix. So they opened Lapin Pressé in 2009. It offered their community an experience approximating the ones they loved from the old world. Lapin Pressé became a hot spot for people in the area, but when the pandemic forced restaurants to close and shift to take-out, it caused a big problem for this little café. Since they had no idea how long this storm would last, they decided to batten down the hatches and wait it out.
Over time, they began to receive more information about physical distancing measures and government support. Ayers checked in with staff and suppliers and started crafting a plan to reopen by way of a take-out window. “We organized our staff into pairs and set a schedule where each set works two days, to limit exposure, stress and possibility of infection within the team.” These shifts are long and grueling, so Ayers decided to initiate a 30-minute ‘siesta’ in the early afternoon so his staff could sit and eat lunch.
Ayers says there are good days and bad days. “Some days are spent dealing with paralyzing anxiety and mental fatigue. Other days I feel hope and supported by my community and government. And in both good and bad moments I try to remember to stay present, to wait and see what will come next.” He’s been open about his struggles with those around him and has received support from unexpected places, like his landlord, insurance brokers, and loyal customers. “Many times, I felt in distress, but I sobbed and cried more often in gratitude for the support I received from others merely because I made it known that I needed help.”
With everything that’s happened over the past few months, he’s come to appreciate how making a carefully prepared cappuccino for someone is actually a great act of care and support. It’s why Ayers continues to serve his community, and those in his orbit continue to serve him. Supporting one another proves there’s no stopping Lapin Pressé and no stopping small business survive this crisis.
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