Pups & Cups successfully open new location during COVID-19 pandemic

Pandemic delayed opening of new location; staff took on construction responsibilities

Owning+Pups+%26+Cups+is+a+dream+for+CJ+Robert.+She+wants+to+make+the+experience+customer-centered.

MASON MARON

Owning Pups & Cups is a dream for CJ Robert. She wants to make the experience customer-centered.

ALEXANDRIA OSBORNE, Evergreen reporter

Pups & Cups Cafe recently moved into their new location on Main Street after jumping through the hoops of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

While they were originally supposed to move into the new location in July, they did not move into the building until this past January, said general manager Katie Rogers. 

“That was frustrating, but we could not have been happier,” she said.

The decision to move locations was made because the shop was growing as a business and the original location started to get busy and crowded, said owner CJ Robert.

The pandemic hit a month after she found the perfect location for the new building, she said. The store ran into multiple issues while trying to open during the height of the pandemic. 

“It was an absolute nightmare,” Robert said. “We ran into issues with trying to get our building permit [because] they weren’t issuing new building permits for new construction up until almost June or July of 2020, so our old location was shut down in March of 2020 and we weren’t even able to apply for a building permit to move to this new location until basically July.”

The staff ran into issues trying to find contractors, as well. Everyone was booked from being shut down for months, so they had to do all the work themselves, she said.

The staff designed and built the entire space, from beginning to end, Robert said. 

I left our big move up to our employees as I had [no] idea as to how long it would take to reopen during a once in a century pandemic,” she said. “I told them that either we stay at our old location or we move forward with the expansion. Every single one of my employees said let’s do it.” 

Since Pups & Cups opened in 2018, the staff built a strong community, she said. The staff formed their own pod, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, she said. This strengthened their relationships with one another. 

Everyone got to learn new things like how to build walls, put up drywall, paint and put in flooring, she said. 

“It was super fun and, honestly, a life-changing experience,” Robert said. “We all have become such an amazing family, and it brings such amazing light to see the community fall in love with the space as much as we have.” 

The move was overwhelming when they decided to take it on themselves, but Robert said it was exciting. 

It ended up working out that we had so much time to pour into the shop because it just turned out so amazing,” she said. 

The new location has generated more business for Pups & Cups than the previous location, Robert said. The shop is currently operating at 25 percent capacity inside. 

“It’s just been nuts. We’ve had a great turnout, [and] we’ve had a loyal following ever since we were at the old location,” she said. “Everyone followed us into the new location so I really can’t complain.”

Rogers said she loves the shop and still comes in on her days off.

“It’s funny, when I have a day off, I miss it and still come in anyway. It’s weird, I feel like I should be at work,” she said. “I love it here.” 

She said she enjoys working with the customers the most because she is a social butterfly. She loves to connect with the regulars and gets feedback on customers’ favorite places in Pullman for future reference. 

Owning Pups & Cups is her dream job, Robert said. She likes to make it enjoyable for the staff as well as the customers. When hiring new staff members, her number one focus is making sure the staff is customer service-oriented. 

“It’s not about quantity, it’s all about quality. We want to have that kind of family vibe, and that every single person that walks through the door is one of our friends,” she said. “We don’t want you to be a number.”