TAMPA,Fla — Rebounding out of this pandemic is different for every business. One coffee shop in Ybor City focuses on cleanliness and the warmth of a family-owned business to keep their sales going.

On my first phone call with Denise Reddick, to schedule a time for an interview, you could tell she wasn’t your typical business owner. Even over the phone, she talked to me like I was an old friend, and told me when I got to 22nd Street Coffee to “have a big appetite” and room for café con leche.

“It’s more than just customers. They become friends too, so it was a very stressful time not just for me but for everyone,” Reddick said. “The whole purpose of this coffee shop was for people to come to have a place to relax, socialize, and enjoy some great coffee.”

The coffee shop is the only one in the Palmetto Beach neighborhood of Tampa. An area filled with deep ties to Cuba and the cigar rollers that called it home for so long.

Reddick’s family came over from Cuba in the early 1900s. Tampa is home, but she never forgets her roots; coffee is the window to the past. Reddick showed us a metal, homemade, drip coffee maker.

“This one is very special to me because this one was my grandmother’s,” Reddick said. “It makes great coffee. You can’t beat the old fashioned way. It’s a drink that transcends just beyond the beverage, and I think people will always appreciate coffee. I feel so lucky to have been this is a
family endeavor for me, and I feel so lucky to be able to continue the tradition that my parents started all those years ago.”

When the pandemic hit, Reddick said they tried shifting into all to-go.

“It was marginally successful. It was really hard for foodservice operation to pivot,” Reddick said. “It seems easy, but it’s really quite challenging, so we did we started taking online orders, and we still do, but our core is the place to come and be a part of a community. Stay true to your core, stay true to your mission, and let people know they can come here and feel safe and comfortable.”

Reddick’s son also jumps in to help make Cuban sandwiches and coffee. One way the family that works together stays together through this challenging time.

“I don’t know what the future is. I’m enjoying today, and I have a lot of hope for the future for a lot of things, especially for the business,” Reddick said.

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