Imperial Beach

How One Small Business Dodged the Pandemic's Punches

Trident Coffee did so well in 2020, they're expanding

NBC Universal, Inc.

The pandemic packed a lot of punches for small businesses in 2020. Many mom-and-pop shops were forced to close. Others are doing everything they can to stay open.

Then there are the anomalies; businesses that dodged most of those pandemic punches and thrived.

“I’m very, very fortunate,” said Eric Johnson, the owner and founder of Trident Coffee in Imperial Beach.

Like many small businesses, Johnson said the young coffee shop was overwhelmed when the State of California shut down businesses.

“I think it was for everybody just figuring out what can we do and how can we continue to still kind of keep moving forward,” Johnson said. “Once we kind of walked through the gray area, we found out, ‘Stay open for grab-and-go.’ So, we could still provide kind of a sense of normalcy.”

Then the stars aligned for Trident Coffee.

The small coffee shop was already perfectly suited for carry out orders.

Less than a year before the pandemic began, Trident Coffee purchased its first canning assembly line, which allowed them to sell their coffee in other stores like Aldi.

Finally, their unique location along the popular Bayshore Bikeway at the southern end of San Diego Bay put them in an ideal spot for the people who bought bikes in record numbers during the pandemic.

“A lot of the cyclist that come through anyway, it’s almost a grab-and-go for them as well,” smiled Johnson.

It allowed the Navy veteran-turned-businessman to keep his staff intact and even hire more people.

“We were very fortunate,” he said.

2020 worked so well, Trident Coffee also began working on a second location along Orange Avenue in Coronado. That’s expected to open in early 2021.

“I’m very excited to see what 2021 has in store for us,” Johnson said.

Trident Coffee’s owner said they were also able to donate hundreds of bags of coffee and more than a thousand cans to first responders and frontline workers in 2020.

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