Proving Grounds coffee shop in Royal Oak stays open with help from Payroll Protection

"We sell coffee, ice cream, pastries but really it's more of a community meeting spot," said James Courtney, owner of The Proving Grounds.

The Proving Grounds Coffee Shop has been in Milford for three years. This January they opened a second location in downtown Royal Oak where Gayle's Chocolates used to be.

"It took so long to get this place opened, we had such good people in place, good energy and a good response from the community - then we have to stop it," he said.

Two months after they opened came a global pandemic, a statewide shutdown when everything came to a halt

They tried to re-open three weeks later for carry-out, but the business just wasn't there. Another start-up try came on May 1st and this time, success.

The employees are back and so are the customers.

"People are very happy to have a local place that is open, a place to spend five minutes and break up the monotony of everyday life," Courtney said.

Thanks to the Payroll Protection Program, Courtney kept his employees who wanted to stay. He's bringing them back in phases as the coffee shop prepares to fully open back up when the state shutdown ends.

"Right now it’s about gaining traction in the community and telling people we are here for them,' he said. "Once May 29 comes or sometime thereafter, we can open back up to the general public and serve them the way we want to, person to person, genuine interaction."