LOS ANGELES — Anthony Jolly is constantly grinding. Whether it's his coffee business, Crenshaw Coffee Co., or working to manage his popular restaurant in Leimert Park, Hot and Cool Café, everything he does has a focus on community and positivity.
“Pre COVID, Hot and Cool Cafe was a community space, people would come here to connect, to tap in, to get some healthy food options, but really just, human connection,” he explained.
Much of that human connection and revenue was lost at the height of the pandemics shutdowns. Still, Jolly says, things were looking up for his café once the vaccine became available. But now that they are finally slowly getting back into the swing of things, he worries the new vaccine mandate, requiring proof to enter indoor spaces, will affect business due to vaccine hesitancy in the community.
“I believe that the mandate on cafes and restaurants will affect us and other restaurants in LA, I think people will make a decision to go elsewhere, where there is no mandate,” he said.
He’s referring to neighboring cities, like nearby Inglewood, which has yet to enact a similar mandate. Hot and Cool Cafe is known for its organic dishes and great coffee. It is a Leimert Park staple serving a predominantly Black community, which Jolly says has lost trust in government leadership over the years, causing him concern for how customers will adjust to the mandate.
A national study found 40% of Black-owned small businesses may close for good because of the pandemic. But Jolly, though familiar with adversity, remains optimistic.
“I have faith in the power of good, to me, money and success is an energy transfer. So we’re going to make sure that this space is full of good energy and hope, and hopefully, that will keep us through,” he said.