ESCONDIDO — Amid a widespread economic downturn and the realities of social distancing, one local couple decided to open up a coffee shop, Manzanita Roasting, a place for the community.
Weston and Samantha Nawrocki started as wholesale roasters in 2015 before opening their first Manzanita location in Rancho Bernardo in 2017.
This past November, the couple decided to open another location at 301 E. Grand Ave., just a few minutes’ walk from their house. At the corner of Grand Avenue and Juniper, the shop is part of the newly renovated Grand theater complex.
“People drink coffee. Everyone wants to go out and get coffee,” Samantha said. “It’s one of those comfort things right now, where people are like, ‘Hey, let’s get dressed up and go down to the coffee shop’ — and it’s good coffee, so people flock there.”
The couple, who live in Historic Escondido, love that they have been able to open a coffee shop in their hometown, and the community has rallied around them.
“The community is really excited. People want to get out and see other people’s smiling faces — you know behind the mask,” Samantha said. “Being on Grand Avenue has got this whole little hometown vibe. People either walk to our shop or they drive, and they don’t have to go too far.”
Samantha added that, though the changing restrictions and lockdown orders have been difficult, they are grateful to have customers and a community that has made it all worth it. They also want their customers to know that they’re here to stay.
Manzanita Roasting was one of the 696 new Escondido-based businesses that applied for a business license from March 1 through Nov. 23, 2020, during the pandemic, said Amber Tarrac, Escondido’s Deputy Director of Economic Development.
“This is a tribute to the resilience and perseverance of the Escondido community to forge ahead and build a business they can be proud of right here in our City,” Tarrac said.
Manzanita Roasting is open for outdoor service under the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.
“It’s really good coffee and a really friendly staff, and we’re all safe and wearing masks. Come see us and get out of your bubble for a little bit,” Samantha said.
Weston, who is a chef and accomplished sommelier, is among the top roasters in America, roasting beans from organic, independently owned small farms in Africa, South America and Central America.
Members of Samantha’s family are the third-generation owners of Bernardo Winery in Rancho Bernardo.