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Q&A: How 7 Downtown Businesses Adapted to COVID-19 and Plan to Reopen

by Taylor Bishop
Food, Restaurants & Dining Taylor Bishop May 14, 2020

Damian Serafine, owner of Serafina Coffee Bar, says that he has marked out certain tables so patrons can keep their distance from each other. With reduced hours and less foot traffic, online sales of coffee beans have helped keep the business going.

Small businesses are the heart of our city – feeding us, keeping us well caffeinated and even helping us see (and look cool, too). We checked in on seven downtown businesses to ask how they’re doing and what they’ve done to adapt.

We want give a big shoutout to Jason Klepfisz of Urban Eyecare, Damian Serafine of Serafina Coffee Bar, Jessica Kim of Harumi Sushi, Emily Rieve and Lindsey Schoenemann of GenuWine Arizona Wine Bar, Robert Mancuso of Mancuso’s Restaurant, Carly Jones of Arizona Wilderness, and Rachel McAuley of Tom Yum Thai Restaurant for their innovative and careful approaches to serving DTPHX.

And, of course, there are so many other downtown businesses that need our support right now – take a look at our takeout, delivery, and in-person dining guide for more updates and deals.

How has your business been impacted by COVID-19?

Urban Eyecare: Our business was affected by COVID due to the lack of people downtown during the time period. Many of our patients are commuters. We were able to retain staff and half our hours while seeing emergencies during the period which while not enough to support the practice was enough to keep staff employed and provide a necessary service for the downtown community. We worked to educate the public to seek tertiary care like ourselves for ocular emergencies during the COVID pandemic to avoid medical clinics and hospitals unless necessary.

What did your business do to adapt?

Harumi Sushi: We are taking the approach of “slow and safe” to ensure we have thought of every detail when it comes to opening. With this said, all of our employees are required to wear masks, change gloves every so often, and disinfect all surfaces every on a continual basis. Also, to continue to serve our guests, we offer online ordering, with pick-up, and contact free curbside pickup.

GenuWine Arizona Wine Bar: Being able to problem solve is key! We created to-go deals including our Pesto Pizza + Bottle of Wine for $25, Mimosa Kits for $22, and Growler refills for $20. We also created our Bottles for the Brave program to give our community a platform to give back to healthcare workers and first responders. We made it easy for customers to get bottles to-go by having email and phone ordering and curbside pick-up.

What changes has your business made to resume dine-in service while keeping people safe?

Tom Yum Thai Restaurant: We only keep five to six tables open but it will be only three table available for seating as we are distancing the space. We are returning in the different name, as I am not have the right and hard to control to Tom Yum name we are coming back on the Zenthaicafe as soon as next week. Plus we are coming back with the boba tea and smoothies drink. We might be opening earlier but will have to see.

Do you have any specials for reopening?

Mancuso’s Restaurant: 30 percent off for take out and delivery at this time.

How can people support your business?

Arizona Wilderness Downtown Phoenix: Ordering to-go, merch, gift cards, etc.! We believe our takeout & delivery method is the new & perfected at-home AZ Wilderness experience! All of our craft beer, cocktails, and fresh made food are artisanally made in-house, with (g)LOVE(s) of course, using a plethora of local ingredients sourced here in our beautiful state of Arizona. You can order our beer for delivery or pickup at or call us to order both beer, cocktails, and scratch-made food for pick-up at either location.

Serafina Coffee Bar: People have been supporting us in amazing ways! Online sales of beans to guests coming every day. Even if it’s a fraction of what we used to see, it is still incredible the support we have had. We are constantly thanked for staying open (just to make things a bit normal). I am usually the one thanking them for coming in, but they don’t want to hear it. Downtown Phoenix has been incredible. Phoenix Community Alliance has been awesome. The emails, the phone calls all wishing us well. I feel very lucky to be a downtown business.

*Answers are in the businesses’ own words. Some have been modified for spelling or grammar.