DAYTON — At the corner of East 3rd Street and St. Clair Street, the music is going and coffee brewing as Third Perk Coffeehouse welcomes customers to their new location.
Third Perk is a black-owned business ran by Juanita Darden. She said six months ago she didn’t think this location would be here.
“As a minority business, sometimes you are labeled as a disadvantage the business just from the beginning. I am a woman-owned minority business, I’m a veteran own business, I check a lot of boxes, but it is difficult,” said Darden, Third Perk, owner.
The difficulties grew along with Covid numbers last year, forcing them to close.
“At the beginning of the pandemic we were still at 46 west fifth street and we were going through a small transition because we were closed down for a little while. Have some HVAC work done,” said Darden.
In April Darden had to permanently close the West Fifth location after deciding not to renew their lease because of financial hardships related to Covid.
Their only location left in the Dayton mall also temporarily closed when malls state-wide had to temporarily close in the spring. Outside of doing online subscriptions to ship coffee to customers nationwide, Third Perk’s main help came from federal and county assistance.
“We needed that extra help. That assistance is why we were able to keep our doors open. Especially at the Dayton mall because people reopened and they didn’t come back.” said Darden.
Not all black businesses were able to survive. National Bureau of Economic Research showed 41% of black-owned businesses nationwide have been shut down due to Covid, including more than 440,000 enterprises and local businesses. That’s compared to just 17% of white-owned businesses.
Mike Jones of Dayton said seeing a place like Third Perk able to make it through the pandemic makes him feel optimistic.
“As came back into the city and really started to dive into the history of black Dayton, it feels good to see the continuation of our history here in the city,” said Mike Jones of Dayton, who came in to get a coffee. “It’s great to have the continuation of the history for that city and only for the younger people who are coming up in the time that Dayton is transitioning with its identity. Going from hard-core industrial now to OK where do we go? More Artisanal or are we going for more tech, but we get to see that it still is possible to do things even within the food and beverage lane and be able to be successful in it.”
Now being on East 3rd Street, also labeled Mr. Luther King Jr. Way, Darden said her dream is to continue the legacy of success as they beat the odds as she prepares to open a third location in the gem city market on Salem Ave.
“In spite of us being a black-owned business and having a very cultural feel, we are a coffeehouse that is here for our entire community,” said Darden.
Outside of the three locations opening up, including Gem City Market coming next month - Darden said they do not plan on slowing down. Right now they are in talks of opening a fourth location.