PORTLAND, Oregon — If you have a sweet tooth, Pix Patisserie in Northeast Portland might be your kind of place.
“Our most popular dessert when we were open was the Amelie. It’s chocolate mousse, hazelnut and orange. Then we also have the Incognito, which is our cheesecake in disguise,” Pix owner Cheryl Wakerhauser said.
Many of us can relate; the world hasn’t stopped spinning for the dessert bar that also serves tapas and cocktails.
“When the shutdown first happened, I was here every day, 7 days a week usually until about 8 at night waiting for the phone to ring because I didn’t want to miss a sale,” Wakerhauser said. “So I’ve changed my business model about three times since we started this.”
Used to turning heads with her menu, something else is grabbing attention right outside the front door at Pix.
"It’s the safest way, in my opinion, to do business right now,” said Cheryl.
Back in 2015, she struggled to find staff, which made them close for two days a week.
“And I thought, ‘Maybe I could just buy a vending machine and we could be open 7 days a week.’” But she didn't want to make the investment. “Today, it makes perfect sense.”
Call it the newest “employee.” The Pix-o-matic is a 20-year-old vending machine that keeps the business open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Last month alone their net income was up 47%.
“It’s contactless,” she said. “It sells our Pix desserts … toilet paper, hand sanitizer.”
To give distance to everyone, you wait your turn on the sidewalk, then walk up the ramp to the front door. You swipe your card, make your pick and off you go. A disco ball and string lights add to the atmosphere.
The machine has quite a variety of products, from socks with Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to buttons that advertise a fictitious Rick Astley presidential campaign, that of course come with by a “Rick-roll” of toilet paper.
Cheryl is keeping a good attitude, especially now that she’s found a completely different recipe for success.
“Everything right now is like a roller coaster,” she said. “If the card reader breaks down, I break down. If someone is out here buying a mask and it makes them happy, I’m happy.”
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