Customers rally around Square Mug Cafe as business struggles to stay open

Customers rally around Square Mug Cafe as business struggles to stay open

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - After three years in business, a locally-owned coffee shop in Railroad Square is on the verge of shutting down.

Supporters of Square Mug Cafe are rallying around the business, fighting to keep it open.

If Square Mug closes, it will be the third in the area to shut down in the last three months, following All Saints Cafe, which closed in

“Please don’t get rid of Square Mug,” customer Mori Memento said. “This is a special place.”

Memento has been coming to the coffee shop every day for the last month.

She’s one of about half a dozen regulars who take advantage of the shop’s food pantry.

Customers say the Square Mug Cafe is a safe space--a judgement free zone that’s accepting of everyone, regardless of whether they can afford to buy a coffee or not.

“It’ll be disappointing to not have a place like this,” said customer Talia Smith.

“All these local places, I just keep hearing that they’re going under,” she said.

Square Mug’s owner, Donna Elliott, says a combination of inflation, increased wages for baristas and a slow summer took a toll on the shop’s finances.

“The sales that we did get this summer went to retaining my baristas and being able to just stock what little we could,” she said.

Elliot said she resisted raising prices for years, even lowering them during the pandemic.

“As a consumer myself, I recognize how hard it is to pay for things,” she said.” So I just tried to stay affordable and unfortunately, this is where we are now.”

But Elliott says there’s been an outpouring of support from friends and customers to help keep Square Mug alive, with people making donations and even holding a silent art auction to fundraise.

“Everybody that I have taken care of the last three years is coming back to take care of me,” Elliott said.

Elliot said Square Mug has until October 7th to catch up on rent or be evicted.