Saxbys Coffee is a coffeehouse chain located close to Lehigh’s campus. On March 16, Saxbys Coffee closed. (Courtesy of Saxby's Coffee)

Saxbys Coffee closed during coronavirus pandemic, employees temporarily laid off

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Saxbys Coffee, the coffeehouse chain located on West Morton Street, is temporarily closed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Saxbys’ website, all locations across the country are closed, but products, such as coffee beans, can still be ordered online.

Bethlehem’s Saxbys location closed on March 16, said employee Michael Stevanovich, ‘23. He said all Saxbys locations will be closed until the stay-at-home orders are lifted, and everyone can resume their typical routines. 

Stevanovich said all employees, except for managers and corporate in Philadelphia, are temporarily laid off and have been promised their jobs back. Stevanovich’s manager, Aaron Dillenbeck, only works every other week now on a reduced schedule.

Managers sent employees unemployment paperwork to fill out, said Moustafa Gomaa, ‘23, an employee at Saxbys. He said he believes it is the best the company can do at this point. 

“I was pretty angry at first,” Gomaa said. “But, I understand why they did it.”

Stevanovich said many part-time college students work at Saxbys and rely on their income for tuition, rent and other living expenses. Some of the employees, who are from Bethlehem, are having a harder time because many Lehigh students returned home, and some employees have children to take care of, he said.

Trisha Kalia, ‘20, is a regular customer at Saxbys and enjoys their coffee.

“I miss the environment at Saxby’s,” Kalia said. “I wish I could go there to study and get out of the house.”

Kalia said she likes to study at Saxby’s because it’s a “change of scenery,” and said she misses having spaces like that while quarantined at home.

While some other restaurants in Bethlehem are offering takeout and delivery, Saxbys is not.

“It’s not really functional for us to do takeout as much as some other places specifically with drive-thrus can do,” Stevanovich said.

Kalia said she would be interested in ordering from Saxbys, but the coffeehouse may not have the staff or equipment to make delivery and takeout possible.

Gomaa said Saxbys is not as prepared as other establishments are for delivery, as they are not on UberEats, DoorDash or other similar food delivery platforms. 

Stevanovich said it probably isn’t feasible for Saxbys to offer takeout or delivery, because the menu only added food options recently, so most offerings would only be coffee.

He said most of the customer base is no longer nearby in Bethlehem.

Stevanovich said he thinks approximately 70 percent of Saxbys’ clientele comes from Lehigh students and faculty, which leads to fewer hours during the summer and other school breaks.

Gomaa said he doesn’t think the company will suffer too much as a result of COVID-19. The company does not franchise, and the stores are run by the head corporate office in Philadelphia. He said the company is taking things day-by-day, and it’s unclear what the future will look like.

Gomaa said he hopes he can return to working at Saxbys this fall.

“I think if the situation’s good enough where we can get back on campus, Saxbys will definitely be open,” Gomaa said.

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