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When Bump ‘n Grind owner Dave Fogel took a look at his 2020 profits and losses, he realized business at his coffee shop-meets-record store on East-West Highway in Silver Spring was down 49 percent from the previous year. As 2021 unfolded, he realized he’d have to close his business due to high operating expenses and low revenue. May 26 was the shop’s last day.
The pandemic had also economically devastated Moorenko’s ice cream shop, located a few blocks away on Georgia Avenue. Prior to COVID-19, the majority of its income came from bulk sales to restaurants, hotels, and convention centers. When those businesses closed or scaled down drastically, it wiped out 80 percent of Moorenko’s business in a blink.
Though owner Susan Soorenko ultimately brought back a skeleton staff to make pints to sell to local independent markets and neighborhood customers, she wasn’t even close to breaking even. Every day last year, she wondered if her business would fold. “It was a terrifying possibility that after 20 years in business, I would lose it all,” she says. “I’m 70. There’s no Plan B.”
Now the two businesses have merged in a unique union to help them both survive. Starting tomorrow, Moorenko’s will serve Bump ’n Grind coffee. It will remain Soorenko’s shop, but Fogel will provide the coffee and equipment, including a Nuova Simonelli espresso machine, and train the team. (A few of his former employees will also transition to positions at Moorenko’s.) “It will take a little work, but it’s a really good pairing,” Soorenko says. “That’s how you survive a pandemic.”
The collaborative new business was Fogel’s idea. He and Soorenko have known each other for over a decade, and he used her ice cream at Bump ’n Grind when making affogatos (espresso poured over ice cream). “I thought it would be a symbiotic relationship,” he says. “Our business is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and hers is from noon to nine or 10 at night.”
Though the ice cream shop has always served coffee, it was never a focus, as Soorenko’s youthful staff was trained to scoop ice cream and make milkshakes. Pulling espresso and brewing a good cup of coffee were not skills they possessed. With the space dormant in the mornings, it could never realize its full potential. “No one wants ice cream for breakfast,” Soorenko says.
Both Fogel and Soorenko hope there will be specialty beverages combining their two products in the future. There will definitely be affogatos from day one. “We’re all looking forward to putting on 15 more pounds in affogatos,” Fogel jokes.
As a nod to the record store component of the original Bump ‘n Grind, there will be a bin of records for sale. A listening station may be installed, if it’s logistically feasible.
This isn’t the only new venture for Fogel. Bump ’n Grind will take over the café space in the Silver Spring Library in a few weeks, his roastery in Kensington will continue hosting pop-up events on the weekends, and his record label, BnG Wax, has a pair of seven-inch vinyl releases coming up this year from New York-based dub artist Brendon Moeller and UK reggae artist Adam Prescott. He is looking for a new flagship location for his coffee brand, but he’s not rushing it. “The space has to feel good,” he says. “It has to feel right.”
Starting May 29, Moorenko’s hours will be Sundays through Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Moorenko’s, 8030-B Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; (301) 565–7804; moorenkos.com