Ritual Cafe adapting to get through the COVID-19 limitations

Some of the Ritual Cafe staff pre-Covid-19 times.

Steaming hot or icy cold delicious goodness in a cup is a must morning or afternoon pick me up for most people. Pandemic or not a well-prepared cup of coffee is impossible to give up. While the restaurant industry is suffering greatly during the pandemic, coffee shops seem to be doing as well as they can considering circumstances. Of course, not all coffee joints will survive, but many are finding the sweet spot that would get them through the difficult times. 

Ritual Café in downtown Des Moines has positioned itself to survive and prosper once everything will calm. Denise Diaz, the owner of this coffee shop, opened the store in March of 2005. She explained that after her college graduation she had worked in several local coffee shops. 

Denise Diaz proprietor of Ritual Cafe in Downtown Des Moines
Photo Tar Macias

“I started working at a local coffee shop and worked my way up to be a barista, to a manager, and then to Roaster,” she told us. “I finally decided it was time for me to open up my own place, with my own vision.”


15 years later customers still flock to her coffee shop to enjoy a good cup of coffee and delicious items from her made to order menu. 

Ms. Diaz stated that they were on track for another successful year at the beginning of 2020, but the global pandemic came changing the normal for everyone in the world. As any other business out there, the Ritual Café owner had to implement new ways of doing business. The cancelation of many events in downtown Des Moines and people working from home cut their revenue significantly. Less money coming in means her business had to make difficult decisions concerning employees. 

“I had to cut back my payroll, unfortunately. I also reduced my hours of operation,” Denis Diaz explained.  “I am basically running with a skeleton crew right now. I am still offering to go and curbside at this time.”


Those who are still working in Ritual Café are required to wear masks and gloves to protect employees and customers from the spread of the disease. Ms. Diaz stated that her store also has plexiglass barriers at the counters for extra protection and there is sanitizer everywhere. 

“I am offering to take payment for orders over the phone and delivering it to their cars, so they don’t need to come in. Taking additional time to focus on getting my staff educated and trained,” she added. 


While taking all the precautions Ms. Diaz indicated that her business has yet to reach a spot where she would feel confident and comfortable enough to consider that she made it out and on a way towards success, but she believes it will happen. 

“I think we will make it through this tough time and will be able to operate once again as the bustling business we once were before the pandemic,” Ms. Diaz stated. 


As any business out there, Ritual Café is struggling with the new normal, but Denise Diaz, the owner of the business, adapts to the changes the best she can. She believes her approach of focusing more on the safety of employees and customers is the winning approach to stay in business once the danger of the pandemic passes. 

“Focus more on the safety of your employees and customers before trying to make a quick buck. Your customers will appreciate every attempt you make to keep them safe and be more inclined to support you even more. Keep your overhead low and know this is temporary. Use social media to keep your customers informed of all changes and updates to your business during this time,” Denis Diaz advises other business owners struggling during a pandemic. 

The pandemic turned everything upside down, but it does not mean people will stop eating and drinking coffee. It only means that businesses have to adapt to a new way of doing business. Many coffee shops are taking a hit as other businesses out there, but most are still running and doing it in a safe manner. Many like Ritual Café are positioning themselves to reach the same or even bigger success once the pandemic calms out there.

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