Just a few days after Zeke’s Coffee opened a drive-thru window a few blocks from its East Liberty shop last October, they were shut down by the Allegheny County Health Department for among other things, failing to submit plans.
But now after working with the ACHD and the city zoning office, Zeke’s modest drive-thru, located along Broad Street in a reconfigured shipping container, has reopened for business as of Monday.
“We’re averaging 7 to 8 cars an hour,” said Daniel Dongilli, Zeke’s events coordinator. “And we are really happy to be moving forward with the city’s approval.”
It’s been a bit of a long and winding road for Zeke’s over the past two years. The drive-thru window only came about after Zeke’s was forced out of its space at 6012 Penn Avenue. A developer announced plans to raze several buildings to make way for apartments, leaving the coffee shop little time to find an alternative location.
Luckily, production manager Chad Hammitt and owner Chris Rhodes found a space across the street at 6015 Penn, but time was ticking away and the space needed significant work. So they turned to their many fans, and the “Save Zeke’s” Indiegogo campaign raised more than $21,000 in a month’s time. Since their initial goal for the crowdfunding campaign was only $15,000, the surplus allowed them to realize their stretch goal of opening the drive-thru. They wanted to do one ever since a Zeke’s temporary farmer’s market tent on the same spot a few years earlier had proven to be a huge success.
Dongilli says business also has been brisk at the main Zeke’s location, which remained open during the drive-thru drama. And, he adds, the response from customers that the drive-thru was reopening was overwhelmingly positive.
They’re offering thank-you coupons for the drive-thru via Zeke’s Instagram, and are planning some kind of monthly social club at the drive-thru location in the spring, with games and food trucks. On Feb. 18th at the main location on Penn Avenue, they’ll host the latest installment of the Acquired Taste reading series, which features traveling authors reading work on a food-related theme.
For his part, Dongilli says he is glad to put all the chaos of the past few months behind him. “What we really want is to get back to business as normal.”