Despite slow sales, Katz Coffee continues to serve the community with free coffee

HOUSTON, TX (KTRK) -- Avi Katz was in a tough position when he started Katz Coffee in 2003.

"Katz Coffee was born out of a massive failure," he said. "I was terminated from my previous coffee company and it led to my desire to be free and independent."

Katz got a loan from his mom and, after a few lean years, the business grew to the point that 1,200 restaurants across the country now serve his coffee.

The first quarter of 2020 was successful for Katz and his team, but the COVID-19 pandemic hit and they've struggled ever since.

"You think you've built something that's super sustainable and can weather almost anything," said Katz. "Until you come across something that nobody ever expected."

As a result of lost business, top managers went without pay and 18 employees were furloughed.

"We gave them a bonus before we furloughed them, so they could have some cash on hand for necessities."

Making sure those employees received a bonus is part of the company's desire to give back. During normal times, it's not uncommon to see Katz Coffee giving out free drinks at school functions and local events.

"I think that's always been a fundamental portion of who we are."

In current times, Katz Coffee has been delivering pallets of coffee to local law enforcement and medical professionals - and that's not all they're doing.

"We have a coronavirus testing facility right around the corner at Delmar Stadium," said Katz. "There's a fleet of officers out there, so we have them over for coffee breaks."

They've also started bringing the public back to their facility, located at 2400 Karbach St., to enjoy free coffee and giveaways.

"Every Friday we've been doing 20-25 freebies to the first people who show up," said Katz. "We're practicing our social distancing and it brings a big smile to my face. It's signs of life."

Katz says his company is slowly emerging from the financial loss created by the pandemic. They're back to 50-percent of their normal sales and have been able to bring some furloughed employees back to their facility.

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