Prepared in Feb 2021 by Suela Kola, a student of Epoka University
The Lockdown Economy is the United Nations registered initiative by the Think Tank AlterContacts to help small businesses overcome the challenges of the pandemic. This interview and its analysis were done in collaboration with Epoka University.
Gjon Kola: “Leo de Verzay café is located in the suburbs of Durres city. It has been operating in the field of coffee bars for two years. This business idea came as a consequence as there was no such business in this neighbourhood and residents were forced to travel several kilometres to drink their morning coffee.
This area is full of many different business activities starting from institutions that are schools, banks or other small businesses. One of the reasons that helped our business grow every day and more was the price of coffee. Given the economic development of this area, offering a high-priced service was unprofitable and would result in a very small number of customers. So, what led us to the advantage are the considerable prices adapting to the opportunity and the requirements of our customers. Opening this business brought us mutual benefits.
The speciality of this coffee bar lies in the composition of the café. Our café is ground organic Italian café since we have a bigger culture of café consumption. Offering a café, with the highest quality ingredients attracted a very large number of coffee consumers. Also, it offers different cocktails and other drinks. Everything started to get bigger, by reaching a large number of daily customers. Leo de Verzay offers the right conditions to spend unforgettable moments with your friends and family.
Also, one part of the environment is dedicated to young children where they can have fun. As for the employees, they are qualified for their respective position. In the service, we try to be as coherent and friendly as possible. Smile is one of the main elements of this service as it creates trust and satisfaction in our clients. Leo de Verzay is now back as a second home for our coffee consumers.
Regarding online promotion, it is not very developed since it requires time and investment. Since we have short-term experience in the field of business, we have not yet managed to create the right level for a marketing department. In social media, we have short information regarding our business.”
The main topic of this interview is how the pandemic has affected the performance of the Leo de Verzay coffee bar business. In this interview, we have elaborated on how the idea of this business was born, the sacrifices or various challenges that this business has faced. As we know the lockdown period was an unexpected showdown for all businesses, as in the case of the Leo de Verzay coffee bar. The first and most serious challenge of this period was the total closure of this business where the government made the same decision for all businesses.
This closure lasted for months and as a result, brought many crises to the business. This decision was later overturned and the government allowed the opening of the bars but by enforcing strict rules. Although there was a slight improvement in the state of the business, it faced quite difficult challenges. The first was the reduction of the number of customers by about 50% which leads as a consequence of the reduction of the number of profits.
Another important point is the quality of the products where the insulation in a rather long period brought their expiration. To recover from this situation this business took quick and effective measures. The first is the daily disinfection of the grass premises in every corner. Placing tables at a distance of 2.5 meters, the coffee service was done in cardboard material or serving it in customers’ homes. Slowly the business situation was starting to rise but not in the same yield before the lockdown period. The main objective of this café-bar is the happiness of our clients and to offer them unforgettable moments.