Spaces: This Cafe Made its Biggest Comeback Ever with PURIFII™


The food and beverage sector was one of the hardest hit industries during the COVID-19 pandemic. Popular gathering places for families and friends, restaurants, bars, and cafes were forced to adapt to new rules and procedures quickly—from observing strict occupancy limits to meeting PPE requirements. 

Navigating through closures, new capacity guidelines, and sanitation and safety measures hasn’t been an easy task for customers and employees, either. As we work towards a post-pandemic world, restaurants are using their adaptability skills to keep employee turnover low and customer service at all-time highs. While health officials continue monitoring the COVID-19 virus, however, many restaurants, bars, and cafes are still struggling to keep the lights on and their employees paid. They are uncertain about what the future might bring.

While health officials continue monitoring new strains of the COVID-19 virus, however, many restaurants, bars, and cafes are still struggling to keep the lights on and their employees paid. They are uncertain what the future might bring.

The CDC suggests using upper-room ultraviolet germicidal irradiation systems as part of a multi-layered safety plan. Installing these systems can strengthen consumer confidence and peace of mind when they want to dine out or spend an afternoon at a local coffee shop.

Learn How One Coffee Bar is Protecting Guests & Employees with Upper Air Germicidal Systems

Safety matters now more than ever. That’s why cafes like California Coffee Bar are exploring more efficient and flexible ways to offer healthy dining environments to their guests.

Sarah Mendak, the owner of California Coffee Bar in Pittsburgh, installed PURIFII AER W by Luminii during the Summer of 2021. When local news caught wind of the cafe’s step to protect customers and staff, they covered it, and customer traffic began to pick up. A year later, sales are higher than ever.

“Our sales have never been better. They’re double what our normal sales were pre-pandemic. That’s due to a combination of factors, but PURIFII is definitely one of them.” —Sarah Mendak, California Coffee Bar

PURIFII protects Mendak’s team and guests 24/7. The GUV system eliminates 99.98% of germs and viruses like COVID-19 from the air, giving guests the peace of mind they need to enjoy coffee and snacks with family and friends. [1]

The system is 100% safe to use in highly occupied spaces, enabling restaurants and cafes like California Coffee Bar to do what they do best: delivering exceptional dining experiences in safe and comfortable environments. 

Read our interview with Mendak to learn how we worked together to install PURIFII AER W throughout the coffee bar and support the business’ reopening efforts. 

What are some features you enjoy most about PURIFII and why?

The best features of PURIFII are peace of mind and the ability to offer a safe environment to our customers and staff. We knew how effective it is in disinfecting a space. The COVID pandemic exposed our safety, health, and financial vulnerabilities, and PURIFII gave us the confidence to know we are doing everything we can to prevent something like this from happening again.

PURIFII AER W helps restaurants and cafes like California Coffee Bar provide cleaner, disinfected air to customers. 

I was also floored at how compact and unobtrusive the units were. PURIFII AER W is small and attractive, and it doesn’t take up much space or divert attention from the other features of our coffee shop, such as our art galleries or production space. Even with the units, the coffee shop still maintains its homey, cozy feel.

How has PURIFII supported your reopening efforts during the pandemic?

PURIFII was instrumental in our reopening efforts. We had been under a mandated service limit, and the state of Pennsylvania had given businesses the option to require more mandates, such as continuing limits on in-service dining and mask requirements.

With PURIFII, we were able to allow 100% capacity in-service dining, increasing our service capabilities to meet demand, and we no longer have to require masks for patrons. We are relieved to have PURIFII installed in the coffee shop. PURIFII helps to safeguard our employees and patrons and helps insulate us from another wave of disruptions.

Do you see a use for PURIFII post-COVID?

That’s what I love about it. PURIFII handles any virus! Respiratory infections, colds, influenza—when you work with the public, you’re always dealing with people’s germs and interacting in a close space. Once COVID is no longer a major health concern, PURIFII will still give us protection against the common cold, flu, or anything else to come. Consumers and staff are more sensitive to the dangers of illness, and they demand additional cleaning and more stringent health standards. The safeguard provided by PURIFII will give everyone reassurance.

How did you notify customers? How do they react?

We put small postcards in to-go bags, explaining that we were taking extra measures. We made sure to share that it was safe to come in. I’ve had several customers contact me personally about it. They felt like they could come in safely and were excited to see the product, but you wouldn’t even notice it if you weren’t looking for it.”

We had numerous customers ask about the units as well, and we explained to them what PURIFII is and how it works. Customers have universally expressed that they feel safer and are glad that we implemented this system to safeguard our space. We’ve even had customers ask about PURIFII to find out how they could implement this system in their own work environments.

How did your staff react?

Coffee bars, especially ours, tend to be close-knit communities. I know my staff personally, so I was concerned about one individual in particular. She shared that she was worried because a family member has major health concerns, so she could not risk exposure. This employee decided to return to work once we installed PURIFII. With such a high rate of effectiveness against airborne pathogens like COVID-19—in addition to many others—she felt confident in her health and safety. The entire staff agrees that we are far better off with PURIFII on-site.

How has PURIFII impacted your revenue?

Our sales have never been better. They’re double what our normal sales were pre-pandemic. That’s due to a combination of factors, but PURIFII is definitely one of them. First of all, we don’t have to worry about disruptions to daily business operations anymore. Being able to trust in a consistent cash flow means everything, and that was not something we could take for granted at the height of the pandemic. Additionally, customers feel comfortable at our establishment. When they can choose between a coffee bar with a highly-advanced system and one that still only uses spray-on disinfectant, the decision is obvious.

How does installing PURIFII support the California Coffee Bar brand and mission?

PURIFII supports the California Coffee Bar’s mission to create a gathering space for the neighborhood and a resource for Brighton Heights. This has always been our mission, and during the closures and limits for in-service dining, we were not able to serve as a space for our customers and community to come together.

PURIFII has allowed us to reopen our doors and welcome our community back. We missed the social benefits of having everyone together, and we are so excited to get back to normal! We can offer events (open mic nights, artists’ showings, and others) again. We are so glad to welcome everyone back and return to our beloved events and activities!

Disclaimers and References

  1. Independent lab test: Aerosol Upper Air System tests conducted by Innovative Bioanalysis. 99.98% total reduction achieved at 10 minutes (net reduction of 2.42-log).

Independent lab test: Aerosol Upper Air GUV System tests conducted by Innovative Bioanalysis.