Brandie Medina wasn’t sure how her family was going to make it when businesses had to close in mid-March as the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the country.
Medina, 39, of Arnold co-owns Coffee Culture, a coffee truck stationed in Arnold, as well as Steel and Ink Tattoo Studio in south St. Louis County, along with her husband, Shaun Medina.
When the couple, who share five children between them, had to close the tattoo studio, they were left to figure out how to make ends meet with the coffee truck that had no events to go to because of the pandemic.
That is when Brandie went to Facebook and asked her neighbors in the Apple Valley subdivision if they wanted to purchase coffee from her business.
“It went over really well because everyone was home,” Brandie said. “We had never done neighborhoods before. Then we had friends of neighbors asking us to come to their subdivision.”
Brandie said through April and June, they took the coffee truck to different neighborhoods throughout Jefferson County. The truck already had its operating permits since the Medinas had taken the truck to county events, like Arnold Days.
Brandie said staying in Arnold was a different experience for her as they mainly operated the truck in St. Louis on Market Street, where other food trucks park, or at events like car shows and marathons since starting the business in 2018.
“Arnold was really receptive to the coffee truck idea,” Brandie said. “We did probably every subdivision in Arnold, and they were accepting of the truck and asked us to come back many times. So, I decided we should find a lot.”
Brandie said she wanted to have a more permanent location because the subdivision business was thinning out as people began going back to work.
She found a location at 839 Jeffco Blvd. between the Fox school campus and Fox C-6 Service Center. The lot used to be home to a Burger King restaurant and sits
“It took two weeks to find out who owned the land,” Brandie said. “The owner lives in Cape Girardeau, and she has been really gracious with us.”
Brandie said after solidifying a deal to allow the truck to operate at the location, the next step was to get the truck its own power source, because it was too expensive to run power to the lot that had been barren for more than a decade.
After the truck was equipped, the couple hired four baristas with previous coffee experience, and they started serving in June. The truck primarily operates from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the week.
Brandie said the truck serves about 50 cups per day, and she hopes to grow the business to the point she can set up a permanent building at the lot off Jeffco Boulevard.
“We are looking at different ways to open a coffee shop,” Brandie said. “We will always keep the coffee truck. I spent 10 years in the tattoo shop after working at St. Anthony’s (now Mercy Hospital South in south St. Louis County) for two years. The truck is freedom for me. It gets me out, and the events are fun. I love it and the mobility of the coffee truck.”
Shaun said he has no doubt Brandie will find a way to open a permanent shop in Arnold, just like she did in 2009 when she opened the tattoo shop at 3565 Ritz Center after moving to the St. Louis area from southern California.
“I have every confidence it will happen,” Shaun said. “She started the tattoo shop when the market was crashing and made it. She will keep going because she is very driven.”
Brandie has developed a knack for operating businesses, which recently garnered her some nationwide recognition.
She was chosen to be Missouri’s representative in the Trademark Women of Distinction 2020 Honors Edition. The annually published book is a resource dedicated to highlighting the professional accomplishments and stories of women in business. The women profiled in the registry share characteristics like determination, leadership, courage and discipline.
The book is distributed to the Library of Congress, most major universities and members nationwide, according to the Trademark Publishing Group website.
Brandie said she was shocked to receive the recognition, but her husband wasn’t.
“I’m not surprised she got the award,” Shaun said. “I’m proud, and I know she deserves it.”
A nominee from each state is chosen to be in the book, and those who are picked receive an award, a copy of the publication and a voucher for air travel and hotel stay at a destination of their choice.
Brandie said she will take a trip to Providence, R.I., because she has always wanted to go there.
She said someone from Shriners Hospitals for Children, where she does charitable work, nominated her for the award. Then a committee that chooses the winners looked at how she operated her businesses and ran a foundation called Good Decisions that awards scholarships to graduating seniors from the Fox C-6, Hancock, Mehlville and Oakville school districts each year.
“It was a total surprise,” Brandie said. “I had no idea they were watching me. If I knew, I probably would have been nervous.”