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Foodservice is Getting Creative as People Stay Home



Downtown Minneapolis during what is normally the traditional rush hour.

Last night at 5 p.m. I finally left my home to get some much needed exercise by walking downtown from the North Loop. It was a ghost town, empty streets when a week ago there would have been a traffic jam of cars all vying to beat the lights. The skyways were empty as well, excpet for a few lonely souls and security guards. The only thing missing were the zombies.

The light rail speakers announced that only necessary travel was being encouraged and the train cars were either empty or transporting one person.

There’s no shortage of information out there right now, so we’re just highlighting what we think our readers may want or need to know.

Let’s start with two day brighteners:

  1. Watch this clever video from the Urban Youth at Appetite for Change: Dance to Grow Food.

2. Gov. Tim Walz announced that Friday’s deadline for businesses to remit sales tax will be extended to April 20 with no penalty. Gavin Kaysen of the Soigné Hospitality Group circulated a petition to get 1,000 signatures (it actually ended up with more than 1,400) to appeal to the state for economic help for small businesses. The Instagram community of restaurateurs is pulling together, and it’s a beautiful sight.

From our columnist Dan “Klecko” McGleno at Grandma’s Bakery on Facebook:

"In addition to wonderful baked goods, we have milk (sold at cost) and rolls of toilet paper. One roll for any purchase of six donuts or more (while supplies last)."

Open Table, the online reservation service, asked its loyal diners to support the restaurant industry by buying gift cards now to be used later, so restaurants have the cash now. In its OpenTable gift card marketplace, diners can search by location, cuisine, or price point. "During this time, we’ve waived our gift card fees to restaurants to better help our partners," they said in an email message.

Kowalski and Lunds & Byerly’s have reduced their hours and are dedicating early morning hours for seniors, or people with higher susceptibility to COVID-19. Kowalski’s is asking customers to allow these individuals to shop from  6 a.m. to 8 a.m., while Lunds & Byerly’s are reserving the first hour from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. for high-risk individuals.

The new Travail postponed its opening, and announced they are going to use their Pig Ate My Pizza’s kitchen for its delivery and takeout operation during the restaurant shutdown.

Vincent Francoual, the former owner of VIncent: A Restaurant, posted a message on Facebook: “Bonjour les amis, If you or any elderly persons you know that need help for anything, I have free time. Please message me.”

Meritage is closing its doors temporarily, rather than offering curbside or delivery.  Perishable foods they had on hand was sent home with employees to ensure they have some resources. “We are looking forward to seeing you all on the other side of this,” Owners Russell and Desta Klein said in a social media post.

On Thursday (March 19) Justin Sutherland parked his food truck, Fare Well Foods, outside his Mears Park restaurant, Public Kitchen, where he will be joined by fellow chefs to cook meals for restaurant workers who lost their jobs in the last couple of days. Stephanie March of Minneapolis St Paul magazine reported that he’s also opening Public’s dining room as a community market where they will set out the produce, perishables and other food items on long tables for hospitality workers to take home. They will comply with the regulations of no more than 10 people together at a time and enough room to meet the social distancing guidelines.

Links from the nonprofit, Workplace Fairness, for employees. https://www.workplacefairness.org/

 For workers' rights during a public health emergency: https://www.workplacefairness.org/public-health-emergencies

For information on infectious diseases and the workplace: https://www.workplacefairness.org/infectious-disease-workplace

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