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West El Paso coffee house battles virus, road work to try and stay afloat

EL PASO, Texas -- The Coffee Emporium has been a west El Paso staple for more than 30 years. For the first time in three decades the business is now asking themselves what comes next?

“We felt like we were going to be OK but then the whole TxDOT (construction) came in and people were really having a hard time getting into the shopping center and you can just see a big drop in sales from one week to the next,” Alex Hernandez owner of The Coffee Emporium said.

The local coffee shop managed to survive the stay-at-home order as they are also a postal office, deeming them as essential business. Covid-19 slowed their business but the Texas Department of Transportation is keeping it slow during this time due to the Mesa Rehabilitation project.

“We are down more than 50% and we missed some of our best days which were Easter, which is a big holiday for us, as well as Mother’s Day,” Hernandez said.

TxDOT gave all businesses in the area warning before beginning construction on the road. A year ago representatives from TxDOT briefed business owners in anticipation of the major project, however Hernandez feels no one could have prepared them for the pandemic.

“A year ago they didn’t know we’d be getting out of a pandemic and trying to get back on our feet, so it’s been like a double punch and just trying to get back has been a real struggle,” Hernandez said.

TxDOT is repaving the road in the area, however they have run into challenges including clay pockets prolonging the project in the immediate future.

“They have to be treated in advance of us putting down the road there, so that work is more extensive and taking much longer than we had anticipated," Jennifer Wright a TxDOT spokesperson said.

TxDOT understands the project is an inconvenience for drivers pedestrians and patrons, however they hope construction won't deter customers from patronizing local business.

“We hope people will continue to patronize some of their favorite businesses along this route. It might take a little bit longer to get there, but we still hope people will work to reach these businesses because they need patrons,” Wright said.

Biz/Tech / El Paso / News / Video

JC Navarrete

El Paso native JC Navarrete co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend newscasts and reports during the week.

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