Innovative Benson Coffee Shop Serves Curbside


By Edith Hickman

Features Editor


On a typical Saturday evening in Benson, it can take up to half an hour of driving around the neighboring streets to find a parking spot- finding one within a half mile business district itself is usually out of the question. The streets are always full of people shopping at the vintage stores, partying at the rooftop bar, or smoking outside the infamous Beercade, a bar/arcade combo. But due to the recent coronavirus pandemic and the government warnings to stay at home, even the most prime parking spots have become empty day-in and day-out. The foot traffic is at an absolute minimum, with the most populated areas being the bus stops littered throughout the Benson neighborhood. This district, which was once a major hub for blooming small businesses, has become a ghost town. 

This has left the businesses of Benson to consider the heavy implications of the lack of customers. Some, like restaurant Benson Brewery and Ika Ramen, have closed up shop but continue to provide take-out service. Others, like Hardy Coffee, happen to have a solution custom-built into their building; a drive-thru window that opens up to the sidewalk, so customers can walk up to the window to order instead of going inside the cafe and risking their health. Prior to the shutdowns, this window was mostly seen as a quirky novelty. Now, it’s Hardy’s main form of doing business.

“All three locations had to cut hours,” says barista Leana Dappen. “But Benson is the busiest in general because of the community that supports us.” Starting in the early morning, customers dressed up in masks line up before the walk-up window to get their daily coffee fix. Now, while this doesn’t fully limit the risk Hardy’s employees are taking by interacting with people, it’s certainly preferable to the other two Hardy locations that don’t have the luxury of a window to separate them and the customers. 

Similar to the other businesses in Benson, Hardy has struggled as a result of declining business. “I don’t know if they’ve let go of anybody, but I know a lot of hours got cut,” says Dappen. Many employees throughout Omaha and nationwide are experiencing staggering levels of unemployment, and of the businesses not forced to shut down altogether, most have been forced to keep employee hours at an absolute minimum. Despite this, Dappen said she believes that the community is responsible for helping businesses like Hardy stay afloat.

“Hardy appreciates all the community support,” Dappen said.