Pop’s Malt Shoppe on Main Street in Kutztown faced many obstacles and changes since March but rose to the challenges, continuing to serve patrons amid the pandemic.
“The pandemic has affected us in many ways, both financially and logistically,” said Joel Seidel, owner.
“We had to rethink staffing as many of our crew headed back home when school went virtual, but we were able to keep most of our staff on payroll through those difficult months.”
Some of the food prices have fluctuated quite a bit, which can make it difficult to remain profitable, said Seidel.
“We’ve also seen shortages of items which are normally on-hand at every restaurant store and distributor, such as drink carriers, due to an increase in takeout and delivery sales,” he said. “March and April were extremely slow. April is usually our busiest month of the year, but our sales were down significantly. In the summer months and since going ‘green’ in our area, we have thankfully seen an increase in sales.”
Pop’s made changes throughout the course of the pandemic.
In March, April, and May, Pop’s offered some “out of the box” concepts to boost sales, such as homemade peanut butter egg delivery around Easter, as well as a Mother’s Day gift box when the Shoppe teamed up with Countryside Greenhouse.
Pop’s continues to offer more options that are grab-and-go, such as their cookie ‘wiches (their soft vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two fresh baked cookies) and pre-packaged assorted candies, while also continuing to serve their full menu.
Pop’s also uses a QR code for their menu to reduce the use of reusable menus inside the Shoppe. It can be accessed at popsmaltshoppe.com/menu or by scanning the QR code at your table.
“We are still offering curb-side pickup for any customer that does not feel comfortable coming inside the Shoppe,” said Seidel.
Pop’s added outdoor seating while indoor dining is limited.
“When the Borough of Kutztown closed the streets to promote outside dining and shopping, we invested in new outdoor seating. Our customers and community absolutely loved the idea of outside dining and we continue to serve many of our guests in front of Pop’s even though the streets are no longer closed,” said Seidel. “This has allowed us to continue serving many customers who wouldn’t fit in our dining room due to reduced capacity.”
Indoor seating in the dinning room, featuring a 50s theme, is available but limited.
“We have a very small dining room to begin with, and with limited seating we aren’t able to serve as many customers as we’d like. Thankfully many customers have been very understanding, and are willing to take orders to go or eat outside,” he said.
Guidelines are in place for those who visit Pop’s.
“Both our customers and our staff wear masks. Our staff is trying to keep it fun with a 50s theme mask. Our dining room is still at limited capacity to enforce the 6-foot social distancing rule between tables,” said Seidel.
The response from customers?
“We’ve received overwhelmingly positive responses from customers since the start of the pandemic. Our customers especially enjoy outside dining with our new tables and our continued commitment to staying open with regular hours (11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily),” said Seidel. “We continue to see most familiar faces from town and are looking forward to the students return for the semester.”
Pop’s has also received quite a bit of support from its local business neighbors and the local schools by purchasing gift cards in large quantities for students and residents, which has helped the Shoppe tremendously, he said.
Looking forward, Seidel said, “As more changes are made, we will continue to adapt to the best of our ability while keeping the feel of Pop’s the fun and friendly Shoppe we’ve all come to love.”