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Dayton small-business owners in conversation with each other, sharing their experiences, hopes and fears about running a small business during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bouncing Back: Reza's and The Winds Cafe

Mary Kay Smith of the Winds Café in Yellow Springs and Audria Maki of Reza’s in Dayton with her family.
courtesy of Mary Key Smith and Audria Maki
Mary Kay Smith of the Winds Café in Yellow Springs and Audria Maki of Reza’s in Dayton with her family.

This week on our last chapter of Bouncing Back, we meet two business owners who are also long-time friends. Mary Kay Smith runs the Winds Cafe and Winds Wine Cellar in Yellow Springs. For several years now, she has bought the coffee she serves from Audria Maki, who runs Reza’s in Dayton. Smith has been a mentor to Maki, and the two have helped each other get through the pandemic, both as professionals and parents.

Transcript (edited lightly for length and clarity):

MAKI: Mary Kay, early on, you were probably the first real business that gave us a chance with our coffee. The day that you emailed me and said you were interested in carrying our coffee, I think I was like dancing around the room for an hour. And then just over the last few years, being able to run things by you, especially things like employee things and customer things that you can’t talk about publicly, having somebody that has been there has been just really—I don’t know what I would have done without you, to be honest.

SMITH: Well, I’m glad you feel that way. It’s mutual, that’s for certain. When I talk to you, I think of my younger self sometimes, and just that enthusiasm makes me feel like I’m enthused again. You know, you can lose that, especially during these times. So when I see you and your kids, it reminds me—I’m getting teared up now—of me and my kids being little and how hard it is to, you know, keep going sometimes.

MAKI: Yeah, I think especially this year, my kids too have been really inspiring to me this year. They’ve gone to school with their masks on for eight hour days, and they have just bounced through it much better than I have bounced through everything. There were points where I just wanted to close, and because I had to keep it together for them—you know, it wasn’t okay to just drink wine all day and wallow in sadness—they needed a mom to take care of them.

SMITH: Yeah, and I agree too. My youngest son, when he was doing virtual school, he was very flexible. He would come in, and this is when we were closed except for carry out, and he would do anything and everything. He would do carry out orders, and he would talk to customers that were just very sympathetic to our situation. So, he got to see the impact that restaurants and businesses like yours have. It’s a community thing. It’s not just a cup of coffee. For me, my cup of coffee is a ritual in the morning, and when I see my Reza’s coffee in the morning and we go through this ritual, it’s important to me.

And you see that with restaurants that are opening. It’s a very important part of people’s lives. Not just the food. It’s the friends, the falling in love, the marriage proposals, helping people through other life challenges.

MAKI: Absolutely, I think the first time my family went out to eat the whole year, like actually in a restaurant, was to The Winds. We went New Years Eve. I think we might have been the last service, and my youngest decided to wear a tuxedo to dinner.

SMITH: I remember!

MAKI: Everybody else was in jeans and a sweatshirt. But that’s how important it was. It was such an event. It was just the perfect night.

SMITH: Seeing him all dressed up, too. It was just... it was beautiful... I think there’s some things your children see, and now that I have two older children, I think there’s a value in what they’ve seen in my life that they brought to their own: persevering and being able to push through problems. They can overcome a lot that they’ve seen. They’ve definitely decided that they don’t want to be in the restaurant business [Laughs].

I just want to say how much I appreciate your friendship. It means a lot to me.

MAKI:Thank you. You, too! I definitely worried about you and everybody over there a lot this year. I’m glad that I feel like we’re finally coming out of it and coming out of it together.

Jason Reynolds produced this final chapter of Bouncing Back: Dayton Small Businesses Survive the Pandemic. The seven week series was conceived and produced by Jess Mador in collaboration with Audrey Ingram at Launch Dayton, a network that supports entrepreneurs across the Dayton region.

Editor's note: Both The Winds Cafe and Reza's have been WYSO underwriting supporters.

This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.