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Two small businesses launch in Lexington's Distillery District during pandemic

Posted at 9:14 PM, Sep 18, 2020

Within the past few weeks two small businesses have launched in the Distillery District in Lexington.

Brevedé Coffee Co. held its soft open on September 5.

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"We've been so busy," owner Viorika Kopets said. "We've been busier than we even expected."

Kopets and her husband, Nick, said it was their lifelong dream to open a coffee shop.

When the pandemic hit, though, they faced a difficult choice.

"We either stop or we keep going," Kopets said.

They chose to move forward.

"For us, our background, we live in a way where it's like no giving up," Kopets said. "No giving up no matter what. So we just persevered."

That strong mentality was fostered at a young age. The two both immigrated separately with their families to the United States from the Soviet Union. Viorika arrived in 1991 and Nick came in 1989.

The couple met in Washington where they got married and had three children. In 2017, they moved from Seattle to Lexington.

"We love the coffee scene in Seattle and we wanted to be a part of it here as we began this new journey living in Lexington," Kopetz said.

When they arrived, they already knew they wanted to start the business. When the time finally came, the pandemic hit.

They were originally supposed to open in April, but that was delayed to September. Now that the doors are open, Kopets said she is awestruck by the community support.

"To see people fall in love with the space itself and just enjoy that space as much as they have been its been a blessing that we didn't even expect," Kopets.

The now-popular coffee shop, Brevedé, is named after the term "brevity."

"We changed the spelling to make it our own but it [means] 'shortness of time'," Kopets said. "It's not about how long you live. It's about how well you live and so we really want to focus on that. Every day just make it count no matter what is happening around us. Do the best that we can and be as positive as we can, and we just see great, great things come out of that."

Next month, the Kopets' plans to open a bakery inside Brevedé. There will also be an art studio and gift shop.

Another business in the Distillery District that opened recently is the Rickhouse Pub.

It opened this past week and the owner, Mary Courtney, said it was a challenge making it to the finish line.

Rickhouse Pub.jpg

Those challenges started when Courtney first signed the lease. It was two weeks before the pandemic hit, and she panicked.

"Oh my gosh let's back out," Courtney said when she realized what the effect could be on the new business. "Let's back out. Let's back out. Especially seeing how hard the restaurants and bars were hit off the back."

Then, she said the bank froze one of their loans for a few weeks because it was preoccupied with the surge in PPP loans.

They also had a hard time purchasing patio furniture because there was an increased demand after the restriction on indoor dining at restaurants and bars was announced.

They also had a difficult time finding staff.

"We're all trying to get people and they're all still on unemployment and they're getting more money on unemployment than they would be just being a server or working at a restaurant," Courtney said.

However, Courtney was able to find employees who were motivated to work, even if they were getting unemployment benefits.

"Their main thing was just I need something," Courtney said. "I need something to do. It wasn't even more so a money issue. It was an 'I want to get back into the swing of things. I want a job.' That kind of thing."

Therefore, she feels like she has the right staff in place and that they want to be there and do a good job.

Looking ahead, Courtney said she is nervous about the winter season.

"That's why there was such a rush to try to open as quickly as possible, so we could enjoy the outdoor seating," Courtney said. "Winter is scaring us more than anything just because of the indoor limited capacity."

For the time being, they have been incredibly busy and hope to rack in as much business as possible. When they have to close the patio, they hope customers will feel comfortable inside where they have installed a purification system and UV lights as an added precaution against COVID-19.

You can order food online from the pub here.