It’s a point of pride for Chris and Laura Denkers that they were able to keep all of their staff at Coyote Hole Ciderworks employed, without furloughs, through the worst part of this year’s coronavirus pandemic.
The situation has forced the Denkers to be creative, however, because not only was their tasting room shut down for an extended period in the spring, but so were the restaurants they sold their products to.
The couple has pivoted the focus of business to distribution to grocery stores. Recently they signed agreements with wholesalers to sell cider in stores in New York and New Jersey beginning in September. They hope that will insulate them from damage if they have to close down again before the pandemic is over.
Chris Denkers credits his customers for helping the business weather the storm.
“We have so many awesome customers and many who were at our grand opening and are still patrons to this day,” he said. “We have a few who go above and beyond with their volunteering, whether for events or helping us can our ciders. We can’t thank them enough.”
Coyote Hole was founded in 2015 and the first cider was available in February 2017. The tasting room on Oak Grove Drive, near Lake Anna, opened on Memorial Day weekend in 2017.
The Denkers always wanted to operate some kind of enterprise on their own. They had been involved in other businesses over the years including some around the lake, before they got involved with cider.
“We haven’t reached our goals but I feel the point we knew we were successful was when we started hiring full-time employees,” he said.
For anyone looking to start their own business, Denkers recommends that they do their research.
“Look at other similar businesses in Louisa County and find the best location,” he said. “Location is key. There are great resources here to help start up and grow your business and all of the small businesses we have worked with are here for each other.”