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Hardline Coffee Co. reopens its doors to new concepts, new caffeinated drinks
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Hardline Coffee Co. reopens its doors to new concepts, new caffeinated drinks

nisa salmen long angle

Hardline Coffee Co.'s Nisa Salmen recently reopened her 611 Fifth St. coffee house. It had temporary closed due to concerns over COVID-19.

SIOUX CITY -- On a sunny Thursday morning, Hardline Coffee Co.'s Nisa Salmen was sitting at a table outside her 611 Fifth St. business.

Was the industrious coffee shop owner relaxing after a hectic early morning trade? Actually, this has been a very hectic time for her.

A 2017 Morningside College biology graduate, Salmen first opened Hardline in late 2018. The shop slowly gained a following among downtown workers as well as high school students from the nearby Sioux City Community School District Career Academy.

A communal coffee shop changes concept

"I always liked the community aspect of a downtown coffee shop," she said. "I envisioned Hardline as a place for people to have a cup of coffee, meet up with friends and stay for a while."

That original concept drastically changed when Gov. Kim Reynolds declared a statewide public health emergency in March that limited gatherings to 10 people while closing bars, restaurants and similar businesses in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Salmen was able to keep Hardline going by confining her business strictly to curbside pick-up coffee-on-the-go.

"It didn't work out very well because the city was like a ghost town," she said. "There were a few times in April when I wouldn't have a single sale."

Perking up online business

nisa salmen closer shot

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Hardline Coffee Co. owner Nisa Salmen said she had to rethink the way she did business. 

This was when Salmen decided to close temporarily close Hardline's physical location while building up the coffee shop's online offering by selling beans and other menu items.

It wasn't until July 27 when Salmen felt comfortable enough to open Hardline's doors to the general public.

"I have a 1-year-old baby at home," she explained. "I would never want to jeopardize my baby's health or my own health."

But after being closed for three months, will Hardline's customers come back to the shop?

"I don't know," Salmen said. "This was the question that kept me up at night."

Thinking outside the box

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hardline began allowing its customers to "sponsor" a drink for a healthcare worker or a first responder.

Customers could purchase one or more drinks, along with a personal note, and it would be delivered to the essential worker's place of business.

According to Salmen, this kept Hardline's name out in the public even when the shop was closed.

"The sponsors got to do something nice for a first responder," she said. "Plus the first responder got a delicious coffee drink when they could use a pick-me-up."

Salmen said she will continue this as well as other online promotions. 

nisa salman making coffee

Hardline Coffee Co.'s Nisa Salmen says her wide menu of drinks are available at her 611 Fifth St. shop as well as for delivery.

Generating buzz with menu items

Plus she plans to spruce up Hardline's menu options.

That includes seasonal drinks like the Caffe Shakerato, which is a double-shot espresso, water and simple syrup, shaken over ice; the Peach Sparkler, which is iced black tea combined with peach sparkling water; and the Butterfly Latte, which is double-shot espresso, combined with lavender, a butterfly pea flower infusion and milk.

Back to the old grind

Business has been slowly picking up, Salmen said.

"Our regular customers have been great throughout the pandemic," she said. "They say they missed us as much as we missed them."

Even though Hardline has reopened to reduced hours of 7 a.m. to noon Monday through Saturday, Salmen said she will continue to provide online and delivery services.

"The pandemic has forced everyone to rethink the way they do business," she said. "We have to stay engaged with what our customers want from us."

So, apparently, what Hardline's customers want is premium latte, Americano and espresso drinks.

"Even during a pandemic, people do like coffee," Salman said.

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Siouxland food (and drink) photos published in 2020

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