A month into the COVID-19 crisis and Vine Sourdough Bakery is still, well, divine! The organic bakery at 627 N. Main St. in downtown Gainesville specializes in hand-made pasta and naturally leavened sourdough bread as well as many other delicious baked goods and sandwiches. Although business is down about 30 percent, co-owners Teresa Zokovitch and Dean Griebel are pleased that Vine this week was able to expand operation to five days a week. Store hours are Tuesday through Friday from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m.-4 p.m. for carryout and delivery.
To order online, go to vinegainesville.com and click on "menu." You can place an online order via email through the "contact" and "special orders" links. You can also phone in an order at 352.872.5866 --- or simply stop by the bakery for counter service. Vine also has a made-to-order lunch menu daily 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Following is a Q&A that Gainesville Downtown had with Zokovitch earlier this week:
> How has Vine been affected by the events of the past month? Initially we had to go from being open six days a week to being open four days a week. We also lost the Union Street Farmers Market and have had a dramatic decrease in wholesale orders. Overall we're operating at about 60 to 70 percent.
> What has been the biggest challenge in terms of your business? The most difficult part has been experiencing this change along with our customers, employees, vendors and clients. So many people are scared about their health and for the economic impact this will have on them. It's hard to manage the vast suffering. We want to be able to take care of everyone as best we can, so we're trying to stay open and do it with the most care possible so that we can still pay our employees and serve our clients and the community while keeping everyone safe in the process. We feel lucky to have the continued support so that we are able to do this to a certain extent.
> How many employees has this impacted? We haven't had to let anyone go. We had three employees elect to take leave as a precautionary measure. They are welcome back anytime they feel comfortable. We have, however, been forced to reduce the hours of our employees. They all are very understanding. We are lucky in that we have staff that all want the best for each other. They're a very selfless crew.
> Have you had to change what you offer customers? We have not made any changes to our menu. The most dramatic change has been to our lunch offerings, but not because we have had to change the menu. The decrease in our lunch business is understandable, but we still want to offer that as an option.
> Do you still accept walk-in business? We do offer walk-up and take-out service. We encourage people to call, email or order online ahead of time so that we can process orders quickly if they choose a pick-up option. We also offer curbside service and delivery five days a week. And this week we've added the option to pick up at the Wednesday drive-through farmers market at Working Food. We are grateful they asked us to join.
> What are your delivery options? We deliver once a day, Tuesday through Saturday, with 24 hours' notice.
> What else would you like to share about Vine? Like so many experiences we've had in Gainesville, we are continually amazed at the support this community offers. From businesses extending support and help, extremely generous customers continuing to support us, our employees making sacrifices on a daily basis to even financial advice from friends, business owners, our bank and local officials. We feel honored and lucky to be a part of such a strong community. We are also here to help others however we can for as long as we can. We feel optimistic that Vine will be able to overcome and carry on once this crisis is over.
We encourage everyone to support Vine Sourdough Bakery and other locally owned businesses when they need it the most --- while keeping your health and safety in mind. Please share this post. Also, please let us know what other downtown businesses you would like us to spotlight.