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About this blog: I developed a special interest in helping seniors with their challenges and transitions when my dad had a stroke and I helped him through all the various stages of downsizing, packing, moving and finding an assisted living communi...  (More)

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Can Coffee Shops Offer a Safer Alternative?

Uploaded: Jun 11, 2020
As of today, June 11, 2020 Peet's Coffee on Charleston near Middlefield has switched over from taking your order and payment at a table blocking the front door and having you pick up at a table in front of their other door, to you need to come into the store to order and pickup your drink (unless you order and pay ahead, then just come in and pick up.) I'm feeling like the day before it was not safe to go inside, and now the next day it's OK, all is well? They said they were asking folks to wear masks and only 6 customers let inside at a time.

Is there any reason they can't offer customers a choice: order and pick up inside the store, or order and pick up outside by the rear door? The reality is customers who are going inside are more or less guinea pigs and if there is a spike of cases traced to Peet's, they could end up with zero customers for a while.

I'm assuming as of today dine-in is allowed at cafes, restaurants and coffee shops in Palo Alto. Let's cross our fingers, wear masks, social distance and hope for the best. But just because "people were asking to be allowed inside" doesn't mean you would want to possibly eliminate half of your current customers who feel just safe enough for exterior ordering and pickup to patronize you these last few months.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Scare tactics, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 11, 2020 at 1:52 pm

Max- you should really read up on how the virus is spread. But tell us about The spike in cases at wal mart, target, Safeway, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods etc.

Posted by Max Greenberg, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 11, 2020 at 1:57 pm

Max Greenberg is a registered user.

Scare Tactics thanks for your comment. Can you share your stats on how the virus has or hasn't spread due to the stores you mentioned being open? At the same time, those are essential businesses. Sorry to say a coffee shop is not. And I like Peet's a lot.

Posted by Scare Tactics, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood,
on Jun 11, 2020 at 2:22 pm

My comment was more about how you get the virus, which appears to be close, prolonged contact with groups of people- that is why you read about outbreaks in prisons, meat packing facilities etc.. Hard to get it from surfaces. You should wear a mask and social distance. Chances of getting the virus from someone you pass wearing a mask and 6 feet away in a Safeway is minimal.
I am sure if there would have been outbreaks at a Safeway, Wal mart etc we would have read about it. We have read about infections occurring to workers at supermarkets , but not to any large extent.
AS you say, Peets is not essential, which means that people need to decide if the risk of going to Peets is worth it.
I think that will be the new norm- places will reopen in way or another and each individual will have to decide whether to go there or not.

Posted by Max Greenberg, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 11, 2020 at 2:34 pm

Max Greenberg is a registered user.

Scare Tactics, thanks for the clarification and your thoughts. Your conclusion is well stated. I just thought it might be possible to offer a couple ways to do business at a place like Peet's. Be safe out there, or in there.

Posted by DB55, a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive,
on Jun 11, 2020 at 3:34 pm

DB55 is a registered user.

Max, dining inside is not allowed in Palo Alto (outdoor dining has just resumed). Ever since the shutdown people have been able to go inside restaurants to order takeout food and pick it up; that's what Peet's is now doing and they are not creating any more risk than what has existed since March for restaurants in town that do takeout (such as Green Elephant in that same shopping center). I agree with you that the picking orders up outside is a nice option and I wish Peet's kept it for now.

Posted by musical, a resident of Palo Verde,
on Jun 11, 2020 at 6:24 pm

The relevant and topical trend to watch is cash no longer accepted.
Don't know about Peet's, but now need to use my prepaid card for $1.50 hot dogs at Costco.
I've seen several signs elsewhere discouraging cash. Our current crises are at cross-purposes.

Posted by JEANNE VALLCO JEANNE, a resident of another community,
on Jun 12, 2020 at 12:01 am

Peet's has taken a huge hit during this crisis. They've closed cafes in Mountain View and Cupertino. Their employees need your support.

I realize this isn't the point of the column, but I happen to know a lot of people whose livelihood is very much connected to your willingness to go get that latte at Peet's. With my whole heart I encourage you to keep doing so.

Posted by Max Greenberg, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 12, 2020 at 8:10 am

Max Greenberg is a registered user.

Jeanne V: I totally concur and will do what I can to help them keep afloat (I'm not a latte guy, just my little old small decaf, but its something.) My point was: why cut off all those who aren't ready to walk into the shop but would still use the walk up service table outside the rear door. Simple enough to have someone in charge of that cash flow.

Posted by Marc, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 12, 2020 at 8:52 am

Max, Would you pay more for picking up your coffee outside the store?

Once Peet's unblocked their door, it is more expensive for them to have staff at the door AND behind the counter. So will you pay for the privilege?


Posted by Max Greenberg, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 12, 2020 at 5:59 pm

Max Greenberg is a registered user.

Hi Marc - I would pay a little more, but it being more expensive to have staff serve at the door (like a take-out window) all depends on volume of business. I believe that there are a number of customers who have been picking up coffee at the door these last several months who would want to continue doing that and would not come into the store yet if that was the only option. THat's lost buisness. That might make it worthwhile to keep the take-out "window" service going and the extra business would cover the employees time taking care of it. They could try it out to see.

Posted by Simple Solutions, a resident of Midtown,
on Jun 13, 2020 at 9:06 am

(1) Take customer temperatures at the entrance of Peet's and offer free COVID-19 tests to those so inclined.

(2) Order your Peet's coffee over the cellphone and have them deliver it outside while you are waiting in the adjacent parking lot.

(3) Buy your coffee at the Midtown 7-11 on Colorado Avenue.

(4) Purchase a Keurig and make your own AM coffee...many blends available.

(5) Go to Starbucks.

Posted by Max Greenberg, a Palo Alto Online blogger,
on Jun 13, 2020 at 10:07 am

Max Greenberg is a registered user.

Thanks for your comments, Simple
1) Or just have a take out window/table set up like they used to. They know how to run that.
2) Not a bad idea but will take longer and more labor than my #1
3) Buying at 7-11 is fine, except doesn't solve any worries about going into the store.
4) Like it
5) One of the Starbucks on El Camino in PA has drive thru only

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