Owner of popular Jamaican coffee shop in West Palm Beach says community kept her business afloat
West Palm Beach regulars and tourists, especially visitors from Japan, call this Jamaican coffeehouse home.
At Blue Mountain Coffee House in West Palm Beach, it’s not surprising to see local regulars stroll through and open the storefront door to wave hi to the staff. They’ll be back for that clean Jamaican brew anyway. In just a few minutes, I saw it happen, twice. One man, in a rush, swung through just to greet Allison Boettcher, the coffee shop's founder.
Japanese tourists, fanatics of the coffee who often lead the international demand for the beans, are regulars, too. Boettcher says her connection with coffee lovers is "as smooth as the flavors."
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The coffee beans come from her small family-owned estate in Jamaica. The medium acidity, sweet flavor notes and bold aromas lure tourists, professionals and elected officials to the burgeoning restaurant.
But then the pandemic threatened to end everything. When businesses were shutting down in the early stages of the pandemic, Boettcher benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program and Restaurant Revitalization Fund. She used more than $14,000 to help her pay inventory bills and to keep her employees.
Boettcher attended this year’s State of the Union address as Congresswoman Lois Frankel’s virtual guest of honor. Boettcher says attracting customers is not simply a business transaction, because people often open up to talk about themselves and their issues in her shop.
“People need to be drawn. People need to feel loved. To feel appreciated,” said Boettcher. “And because I need that too, that’s what I give. And it has created this environment of support. This network that I never expected.”
Boettcher now plans to expand the coffeehouse to another location. During the early stages of the pandemic, the good Samaritan also partnered with the West Palm Beach Police Department for a toy drive that helped bring joy to nearly 100 kids. It was her way of connecting with kids in the community.
“The whole pandemic, the effects that it had, both socially and economically, kids suffer the most,” said Boettcher. “And I just wanted to give them that feeling that they’re loved. And it’s not as if I was making a lot of money. I just started and there was a pandemic And I was like ‘how am I going to do this?’ The city, the community came together and they donated massively.”