VIRGINIA, Minn. – As we head into the colder months, a cup of coffee is wonderful at any time of the day. When you pair it with compassion and empathy, the customers just keep coming back.
“The coffee’s good, but the pizza is even better,” said Aaron Bialke, a customer from Grand Rapids.
It’s hard to pinpoint a favorite part about this one-stop-shop along Main Street in Virginia.
“It’s nice to come to a place where it’s calm, laid back, you can be whoever you want, and there’s zero judgment,” said Veronica Lessard, a barista at Loonies Coffee Shop.
At Loonies Coffee Shop, it’s not just coffee, breakfast, or lunch offered on the menu. Every purchase helps support mental health and wellbeing.
“We want to create a safe place where it’s okay to not be okay,” said Lessard.
The shop opened in January of 2021 during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of many local residents.
“I’m only 19-years-old and I’ve never had a place where I felt comfortable sitting down, having coffee, and just being able to talk to my friends,” said Lessard.
At Loonies, 10 percent of the profits are donated to mental health wellness. The decision to donate, helping to create a safe place for those in need of support.
“I definitely think it curves that negative mindset on it when you see a company open that’s willing and open to talk about mental health,” said Lessard.
Aside from paying the profits forward, the shop also hosts support groups once a week to help with mental health. These are free, and open to anyone in the community.
“It feels a lot better to give it to our community and people who need the help than to just throw it away into some money pool where we don’t even know where it is,” said Lessard.
“The more money we can keep local, the better,” said Bialke.
As for customers and residents residing in Virginia, it’s simply nice to have a local option to help start the day or enjoy conversation over handcrafted wood-fired pizzas, salads, or sandwiches.
“Especially great to see our community come out, get their coffee here instead of going to one of the national chains,” said Bialke.
Loonies is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. They’re located at 235 Chestnut Street in Virginia.
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