When students enter The Fine Grind, they are met with a cup of Joe, live music and art from other up and coming small business owners. With gluten-free and vegan options, The Fine Grind is a sanctuary for everyone.
The Little Falls, New Jersey coffee shop hot spot for Montclair State University students, has re-opened after a short-term closing from “financial hardships.” After a nine-day closing, The Fine Grind is back to bringing the community a comfy corner to escape day-to-day stress and soak up relaxation.
The Fine Grind’s Little Falls location closed in late October and re-opened this past weekend, according to the shop’s social media. The fast turn around experienced a lot of praise; however, the details surrounding The Find Grind’s seemingly sudden financial issues had been an area of concern for its customers.
Senior nutrition and food science major Eleanor Kelly was saddened by the shop’s closing and was surprised to hear that it is opened again.
“I’ve gone to The Fine Grind a number of times over the past two years,” Kelly said. “It’s such a perfect location for students to take a break by campus. I hadn’t heard that it was reopened, but I hope that they’re able to stay open after this.”
While there is a worry among customers that The Fine Grind’s revival is temporary, owner of The Fine Grind, Rhonda Mallek, is positive the flagship location is here to stay.
“We’re back, and we’re back for good,” Mallek said.
Senior acting major Brian Sedita used to be a regular of The Fine Grind. He was puzzled by how a business in a lively community could be dealing with financial issues severe enough to cause a short-term closing.
“I’ve been going to The Fine Grind since middle school,” Sedita said. “I felt like the whole situation [the sudden closing] seemed unprofessional and that there were some important details being left out in their communication with the public.”
Sedita, like many long-term customers, was confused by the reported fundraising efforts by The Fine Grind in order to reopen their doors.
“Local businesses facing hardship is a real issue in America, but in this particular situation, it seems like there are key details being left out,” Sedita said. “I will continue to support local businesses by giving them my business but not by just handing out my money without a product to back it up.”
It was rumored that The Find Grind had a GoFundMe page that raised $400 with a goal of $100,000. However, Mallek says this is untrue.
“We actually didn’t start a GoFundMe page,” Mallek said. “It was in our social media post when we first posted it, but we deleted that part of the comment. I found a website called Fundable for raising money for business, which I thought was more appropriate.”
While Mallek started a fundraising campaign, after trying it for a few days, she felt it was unnecessary. Mallek clarified that the Little Falls location is actually doing fairly well. However, a year and a half ago, she opened a second location in Wayne, New Jersey due to popular demand. The flagship’s baby brother has put a strain on the better established location.
“We are helping the Wayne store so much that it put this store in a compromising position,” Mallek said.
Despite the struggles that come along with owning a small business, Mallek has not let recent financial trials affect her approach to running the coffee shops. Like her clientele, Mallek sees The Fine Grind as a staple in the community.
“We’re not just a business. I’m not just here to sell a product and make money,” Mallek said. “To me, a coffee shop is more about the environment it provides for people in the community. “
Mallek thinks the ways in which a coffee shop can be a community hub is often overlooked.
“We have art shows, we have music, we have so many cultural and social activities,” Mallek said. “People kind of rely on us as a place to go, a place to be, a place to relax and a place for dates. [They come here] to meet old friends they haven’t seen in years.”
Many customers, including senior psychology major and criminal justice minor Dana DeSimone feel like their Montclair State experience would not be the same without The Fine Grind.
“I live in New York but dorm here at Montclair State. When I go to The Fine Grind, it makes me feel as if I am home,” DeSimone said. “[Going to The Fine Grind] makes you feel as if the staff are your family. When I heard that they were back up and running, it made me feel as if The Fine Grind family were okay again. They give so many people happiness and it’s an amazing place to be.”