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Restaurants Dining Rooms May be Silenced But There Are Lots of Voices Out There

When I first saw this sign on Stilheart Distillery in the North Loop, I thought the notice "alcohol has been removed to make hand sanitizer" referred to the cocktail kits, they were selling, which didn't make sense. But then I realized, since the sign also said, "All valuables have been removed," it was to ward off looters. More restaurant windows are being covered with brown paper, but let's hope it's a precautionary measure and not one that's needed in these already scary times.

Nancy Weingartner Monroe

Nationwide, restaurant customer transactions dropped by 42 percent in the week ending March 29, compared to the same week a year ago, according to The NPD Group, an analytic group based in Illinois. QSR and businesses already doing a majority of takeout or drive-thru orders did better, and full-service restaurants, which aren't typically set up for off-premises dining declined 79 percent, the report said. 


Bridge the Gap, a livestreamed benefit concert hosted by Icehouse and Vemos, is taking place on Saturday, April 11, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are priced at Minneapolis' minimum wage of $11. The concert’s mantra is “one ticket buys one hour of work.” Purchasing a ticket provides access to the livestream concert,with all proceeds  donated directly to displaced workers in the restaurant, bar, and music industry as a result of COVID-19. “This pandemic is temporary, and we can all unite together to bridge the gap for hospitality workers,” the eblast said.

For an additional $11, you can get a crowler from Falling Knife Brewing ($22) or for $23 from Utepils Brewing. The additional funds go into Silver Linings Fund, plus the North Sands Fund, and instructions on how to pick up the crowlers is included in the ticket information.

The North Sands Fund is a collaboration of Justin Sutherland of St. Paul’s Madison Restaurant Group and David Fhima of Fhima’s Minneapolis and the Sanneh Foundation.

Buy tickets for the virtual concert here: https://tinyurl.com/rjqysaf


Homemade masks are not as good as the N95 respirators medical personnel are using, but they are better than nothing, news reports are now saying. Just as the spirits world is zigging their production to making hand sanitizers, organizations like the Jungle Theater are zagging to use leftover costume material to sew masks, following CDC guidelines, as has BA Craftmade Aprons. Owner Kate Meier has added masks for foodservice workers—or anyone else who needs them—to her line-up of aprons. (www.BACraftemadeaprons.com) Mask cost $10, of which $5 is donated to their Black and Blue Fund for hospitality workers needing financial assistance. As of the end of the day April 4, BA Craftmade had sold 1,800 masks, adding $9,000 to their fund.


Here are some guidelines from National Public Radio on how to mask up:

If you'd like to make your own mask, here are instructions from USAToday: https://tinyurl.com/uqnlawg

  1. Just like your underwear, masks need to be washed after every use. Disposable ones need to be tossed in the trash.
  2. In a pinch, a scarf or bandana can be used, but scarves need to be out of a tightly woven material (no loosely kniited ones) and fit closely over your nose and mouth.
  3. Check out YouTube videos on how to sew your own, if you have a sewing machine and the skillset.
  4. Masks keep droplets from sneezes and coughs contained, but if you’re sneezed on, remove the mask by the ear straps and do not touch the front of the mask as you dispose of it or toss in the washing machine.
  5. Wash your hands!

As we know right now, masks are helpful, but more along the lines of reminding people to stay six feet away and that we’re in the midst of a pandemic, the article said. Be considerate and smart as you mask up.


In the midst of all this chaos, the restaurant community, true to it roots, is seeing a rush of love and fund drives for its laid-off workers. We’ve mentioned a few in earlier posts, and Star Tribune restaurant critic, Rick Nelson, has collected a number of who’s doing what in a column in the Sunday newspaper (also online if you have a subscription).  Website, GoFundMe, is one source, as well as social media appeals that look like BINGO cards being filled in. Brasa and Pig Ate My Pizza are two examples of the latter.

On the cautionary side, Nelson adds that Yelp, the online rating site, partnered with GoFundMe to create some of these giving sites, but without asking the restaurants’ permission. That situation has been rectified, Nelson reports. 


With the lack of sports to bet on, much less fill our weekends' and evenings' TV hours, The Wall Street Journal reported some people are turning to fantasy leagues using TV chefs, such as those on Top Chef, as their players, and then betting on who will win using the stats from their wins on TV. So tell me, if you were putting together a local team, who would be your teammates? Gavin Kaysen of Spoon and Stable? Justin Sutherland of Handsome Hog? Andrew Zimmern of the new “What’s Eating America?” Could you draft local food reporters like WCCO’s Jason DeRusha, or would you save him to do the color commentary? Send your dream team to nancyw@foodservicenews.net.


Pivoting: Blue Plate, a restaurant in Avon, Colorado, is doing take-out and delivery, and using its empty dining room to grow vegetables, flowers and micro greens, getting ready for summer meals, according to the Vail Daily newspaper.

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