Arlington, VA

Despite everything, Sandra Wolter is hoping to have a coffee shop up and running in the former Java Shack space by Labor Day (Sept. 7).

It’s been a long few months for Sweet Science Coffee, which Wolter co-owns. The local coffee brand launched its own location in D.C. after years in shared spaces just months before the pandemic hit the region. The hopes were to get the location up and running by March, but even the hoped-for September opening is tentative.

“It’s hard to say with everything going on,” Wolter said. “Ideally shooting for Labor Day weekend, roughly two months from now. The groundwork is laid so I carefully say COVID-willing, if nothing happens, we should be able to make that timeline.”

The permitting has taken about 4.5 months, Wolter said, though she’s unsure how much of that is due to COVID-19 and how much of that is the process.

“We’ve applied for permits to upgrade the space,” Wolter said. “We just got those permits last week, so we can move forward with plumbing and electrical work. It’s an old building, so there’s a lot to be done.”

Sweet Science Coffee has also applied for a license to serve wine. The location, at 2507 Franklin Road near Courthouse, has an outdoor area that Wolter is hopeful can be turned into an outdoor patio. The cafe could also potentially focus more on home delivery of items and pre-orders for popular pastries, if in-person business is light.

Wolter said she is lucky that the former Java Shack space won’t have to undergo too many adjustments, with takeout coffee already planned before the pandemic.

“Coffee is a grab-and-go thing early in the mornings, so that works in everyone’s favor,” Wolter said.

What will be put on the back burner, Wolter said, are plans to offer classes for home coffee brewing and other coffee-related events. Those sorts of classes often require close contact and sharing of objects that just don’t work amid a pandemic.

“It’s a weird mixture between excitement and fear,” Wolter said of the opening. “With everything that’s happened… we’re excited to be moving forward. A lot of people in Arlington really like the space and would like it to be a coffee shop again. We’re happy to be able to get back to that and do something. But as a business owner you always crunch the numbers — like what we’re able to do.”

Photo via Sweet Science Coffee/Facebook

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