By Laken Franchetti, Assistant News Editor
The Ugly Mug Cafe, a local favorite among Gettysburgians, announced their closure on Jan. 9, 2022. The news of their closure was given through their Instagram account where they stated, “Many factors have [led] to this decision … a global pandemic, staffing shortages, product shortages, even our own health and well-being.” The post has garnered over one hundred comments from Gettysburg students, staff, locals, and alumni.
After reaching out to owners Alyson and Adam Yetsko, they detailed their story of founding the Ugly Mug and making the difficult decision to close. Adam had worked at Gettysburg’s first coffee shop, the Gettysburg Coffee Company, and enjoyed the job. The couple’s brother-in-law, Reinaldo Ramos, joined them in the endeavor and played a part in the cafe’s Venezuelan influence.
“We opened on a shoe string budget, buying many things from restaurant equipment auctions,” Alyson said. “I was working in Washington, DC during the week so I was only available for free labor on the weekends until about 2013 when we dove head first into the business and both Adam and myself were working close to 80 hours a week … It was incredibly fun to form this entity into something that I wish I had when I was in high school, college, and beyond.”
To Alyson, the company felt like more than just a cafe. “It may sound cheesy but I felt like I was giving back to a community that needs something more, a safe place, especially as I saw mounting political frustrations coming to a boil even in the little streets of Gettysburg.”
When the pandemic began, the business and its owners experienced a drastic change within the cafe’s atmosphere behind the scenes.
Alyson said, “We were driving long distances to get staple products such as bacon because our food supplier didn’t carry any. We had one food supplier simply stop delivering to us all together (when the delivery was already 2 days late) so that they could focus on delivering to only schools and hospitals. Admirable move by the supplier, but with no notice whatsoever, we were stuck traveling in all directions so that we could provide for our customers.”
The pandemic caused difficulties for the Ugly Mug in acquiring products and hiring new staff. However, the most taxing impact of COVID-19 impact was its effect on the cafe’s owners.
“Because of this constant flow of business, Adam and I could not have a break ourselves,” Alyson said. “And because of that, we were literally breaking ourselves, emotionally, mentally, and physically. You don’t live a life to work. You work to live a life and we were missing out on that exponentially with each passing day.”
The campus response to the closure was bittersweet for the Yetskos.
“It is both heart-warming as well as heart-breaking to see the response that we have gotten from the Gettysburg College student body/staff as well as from the community at large,” Alyson said. “You all liked us quite a bit and I feel saddened that we had to end that relationship but it was totally us, not you … we appreciate all of the kind words of encouragement that we have received about our future endeavors and wish we could give you all a collective hug.”
Fresh roasted whole bean coffee can still be purchased through the Ugly Mug Cafe’s website at theuglycafe.com. Alyson said that there are changes coming to the Ugly Mug, and reminded customers to stay tuned for what is next.