Having been around for a while, I’ve never seen any crisis comparable to what we are currently witnessing. By all indications, this will get far worse before it gets better and, if it does, already strained Lake Country businesses will reach their limits. In the hope of surviving this mess, many restaurants are being innovative. Others, however, have closed.
Most of the chains, especially those with drive-up windows, are maintaining a minimum staff. However, others aren’t so lucky. Many decided to close until the panic passes, including West Main Kitchen, Huntington Street Bar and Grill, Barbee Hotel Restaurant, Frog Tavern, Kiyomi Japanese Cuisine, Wawasee American Legion and Hammers Pub and Grub.
INNOVATION COMES TO THE FOREFRONT
Several owners are reporting a robust carry-out and drive-up business. For places that deliver, business has been better than expected.
Here are the options available as of this writing:
• Sleepy Owl Supper Club is offering Louie’s famous soups in bulk. They will deliver and are now offering 50% off on all appetizers. Wednesday’s special continues to be half-priced pizza.
• Talk about being innovative, with Lake Country meat counters being nearly bare, Owl owner Jeff Larson purchased large quantities of bulk meats and chicken. He’s selling these items by the pound. Cost is $3.99 for a pound of ground beef, which is a real deal these days as many stores are inflating prices dramatically. Based on demand, the Owl is offering trays of lasagna and other pasta dishes.
• Down Under Bar and Grill boasts its “Great American Take-out” and is also delivering. They have seen strong orders from local businesses — especially for pizzas. Last weekend, they had a lasagna special and offered half-priced price prime rib.
• The Syracuse Café has seen consistent orders. Featured are 25-cent chili, build-your-own burgers with free cheese and several breakfast specials. They also deliver.
• The Coffee Depot’s drive-through has seen a lot of action. On a recent visit, three cars were lined-up for specialty coffees, breakfast or lunch. On this stop, Kimie McIlwain had her signature twice-baked potato soup in the pot. That and a grilled ham and cheese made lunch in a Styrofoam box not so bad after all.
• Pat’s Chicago Dogs posted a carry-out menu.
• Shopoff’s Drive-in remains open for curb-side service.
• The Wawasee Café is providing breakfast and lunch carry-out Thursday through Sunday.
• Peterson’s Fish posted on March 20: “Wow!! What an amazing turn out tonight!! THANK YOU.” Besides their fish, they are offering their house-made salads by the pint for $4.
• Chubbies Pub and Grub is another innovative Lake Country joint. On weekends, they are manning a smoking pit in their parking lot and serving drive-up customers On Sundays, they offer 59 cent wings.
• Steve Johnson at the Channel Marker is offering their entire winter menu for carry-out.
• Mug Shots Coffeehouse and Eatery has their drive-up open until 2 p.m. for breakfast, lunch and/or specialty coffees. Man Cave Brewing is in the same building and uses the window for food-only from 4-8 p. m. Beer growlers are available for carry-out only.
• Maria’s House of Pancakes, American Legion Hall, Lucky’s Tavern and Sheila’s Sweet Treats in North Webster remain open.
• In Milford, the Main Street Grill in Milford is offering fish sandwiches and half-pound cheeseburgers for $4. Meanwhile, Theresa’s Delectables recently offered kolaches as a lunch special. These Bohemian treats are normally served for dessert, but you can stuff these yeast-based pastries with all sorts of goodies. Their famous cheeseballs continue to roll out the door.
• The Oswego Mini-Mart and Café is offering $5 off any order of $30 or more.
• Danny’s Sports Bar and Pizza at the Barbee Hotel is delivering pizzas daily.
• In Leesburg, Stacy’s Food and Spirits just reopened and are offering daily specials.
For the most part, folks are getting by. Dave McIlwain at The Coffee Depot reports: “We are making enough to pay the bills!” Others have seen business drop dramatically.
With the government controlling everything we do (some states have a hotline so neighbors can report on neighbors), businesses will continue to suffer. Restaurants offering delivery service will have a definite advantage in coming weeks. I expect more to offer it. If not, there will be more closings until this onslaught diminishes. Let’s hope it’s sooner than later. More luscious locations are lurking out there.
Regardless, during these tough times, buying local is the only thing making sense.