PINETOP-LAKESIDE — March 30 will be one year since Mike and Linda Moffenbier took possession of the Pinetop Coffee House & Roasting Company.
Though hindsight is said to be 20-20, most would agree that was not the most opportune time to embark on an entrepreneurial venture.
But, today, they can proudly say that with perseverance, 40 years of business experience, support from the community and a state restaurant grant, they are more than just surviving.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey announced an initial investment of $1 million on Dec. 2 to ease the red tape for restaurants on outdoor dining due to COVID-19.
The Safest Outdoor Restaurant Assistance Program grant was to help them expand outdoor seating since the Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that outdoor dining is less risky than indoor dining.
On Jan. 5, Ducey released another $2 million for the same purpose.
According to business analyst Craig Boston of the Northland Pioneer College Small Business Development Center, three Pinetop-Lakeside restaurants applied for the grant – Pinetop Coffee House, Crockery Cafe and Munich Haus Grill-N-Beergarden.
Pinetop Coffee and the Crockery Cafe were approved for the funds, while the grant for Munich House is pending approval.
Grant recipients were awarded $10,000 each.
Mike Moffenbier said even before he was notified he went to work contacting local contractors for bids on tables, chairs, umbrellas, lights, heaters and plants for his proposal.
“It was an opportunity to be able to utilize the grant to enhance our business. It is small inside and we need to be able to move people in and out. The fire marshal says our maximum is 10 people,” said Moffenbier.
He is now 90% done with his improvement project, just waiting on installation of the solar lights and the topiaries that will be added in the spring.
“I am proud I used local contractors,” said Moffenbier. “I wanted to give back to the community. The tables came from local craftsman. I used local electricians for lights. I bought local, not in a web store.”
Moffenbier, originally from Aberdeen, South Dakota, was in the U.S. Army and while stationed at Junction City, Kansas, met his wife, Linda. He worked in corporate America for 40 years, first with Coca-Cola and then as a vice president in sales for a water and a coffee company.
The couple was in Austin, Texas, before coming to the White Mountains. Their daughter, who lives in Phoenix and has a place in Show Low, had phoned them last year to tell them the Pinetop Coffee House was for sale. Of course, they came and purchased it, never having owned a business before, but were laden with years of business experience — just not pandemic experience. They are, however, avid coffee drinkers.
Nonetheless, the Moffenbiers went right to work and have embraced their business just as it has embraced them, enabling them to thrive during COVID-19.
One of the great points of their business is that they import coffees from all over the world and create six different coffee blends in their store. They roast three to four times a week so that the coffee is fresh.
Locals also come in to buy bags of their fresh-roasted coffee.
Locally, Darbi’s Cafe, Crockery Cafe and Sweethearts Cafe & Pizzeria get their coffee from Pinetop Coffee and some restaurants in Tucson are their customers. One of the plans for future business expansion is to provide their six blends to more of the local restaurants.
“Kids even come in for field trips,” said Moffenbier.
He says besides watching the roasting process, and like anyone else who comes into their establishment, the kids also get a little bit of a coffee education.
They have a busy online presence and ship their coffee all over the country — another area of their business they plan to grow.
Pinetop Coffee is open seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Moffenbier says he and Linda, and their miniature dachshund, Faith, are the only ones who work there.
They love the visitors, and locals and enjoy laughing and talking with everyone and sharing “their really good coffee.” They are grateful for everyone who has supported them during this terrifying pandemic period.
And, like so many others, the Moffenbiers are quick to point out the kindness of people in the White Mountains community.
With White Mountain real estate in such demand these days, when they are not manning the shop, they are out exploring the market for a home.
They also enjoy going out to eat with the friends and learning more about the community.
With outside being the new “in,” these days, NPC’s Boston said, “this money is not only helping businesses during the pandemic but it is also improving our community. Pinetop Coffee House improved on its building. The improvements will be there year-round. The heater, the canopies, solar lights — they make the place very inviting.
Pinetop Coffee House is located at 1453 E. White Mountain Blvd. Their website is https://www.restaurantji.com/az/pinetop-lakeside/the-pinetop-coffee-house-and-rgb-roasting-company-/
For more information on the Safest Outdoor Restaurant Assistance Program grant, contact the Small Business Development Center at Northland Pioneer College, 1001 W. Deuce of Clubs, Goldwater Building, Room 107, Show Low. Its phone number is 928 532-6707 and can be found online at www.npc.edu/sbdc.