An Open Letter to North Carolina Residents, Support Independent Restaurants

The following was published via NC News Network today. This is a repost and is fully-owned by NCNN. A great piece written by our very own Claire Calvin from The Porch, Alma Mexicana and Canteen Market and Bistro:


Claire Calvin (©NCNN)

I am a small business owner and resident of an incredibly resilient city; I own three restaurants in Winston-Salem – The Porch, Alma Mexicana and Canteen Market & Bistro.

Independent restaurants are the economic engine for so many other local businesses – family farms, vendors, suppliers, and service companies. Chipotle is not hiring your neighbor’s graphic design firm for a new logo or a local attorney for legal advice. 

We support the state and local tax base, donate to local charities and schools, and invest our time and money into improving the community.  Collectively, we employ our neighbors who in turn pay rent, buy cars, shop, go out to eat and otherwise participate in our local economy. 

And, of course, we feed people in ways both physical and emotional. These past few weeks, while our dining room and two of our three restaurants have been closed, our kitchen at The Porch has continued to make and sell food for take-out and delivery, and that has felt so amazing to be able to provide a service to the community in these dark days.

Every person and every industry will have much work to do in the next year to rebuild and restore some sense of normalcy, and the challenges to each are unique and complex. Some industries will be more disrupted than others, but all will face new and difficult problems.

For independent restaurants, the challenges are many and survival depends, in large part, on how federal agencies, state and city governments proceed. Like airlines, hotels and entertainment venues, independent restaurants – particularly ones primarily sustained by dine-in sales – are still in free fall. Simply re-opening is not a solution that will address the needs of most restaurants, so if we care about saving them at all, we need action that specifically targets the issues they face.

As states begin to move away from total lockdowns, there will be many bumps in the road, and no one knows exactly what will happen. We’re all in uncharted territory, and we must observe and learn from others.

In the past weeks, I have been working long days in the restaurant trying to keep our business afloat doing take-out and delivery, and before and after work reading as much as I can to learn best practices on re-opening safely from around the world, talking to restaurant owners and industry leaders around the country who are trying to re-imagine their businesses, and creating one scenario after another for our own restaurants. I am exhausted, mentally and physically, and I know that the next 12 months will require even more of all of us.

I am willing to do the hard work ahead, and I expect the same from our government leaders. “Allowing” restaurants to reopen without financial help, stringent regulations and public (government) support is unconscionable and it will bankrupt small businesses.

Many years ago, I was asked to write about my “why” for getting into the restaurant business, and I remember that I wrote the line “This was never about food.” It is about building community, and food is the tool we use to do it.  The work we do is about building up and serving the collective community and the people in it. We use food to gather you to our spaces, but then we get to watch magic happen when you all are there with us in that noisy, chaotic and living space.

Please join with us in the hard work it will take to bring back that magic. I really do believe we can get there and beyond, but we need you all to make it happen.

Claire Calvin is a founding member of Triad Food & Beverage Coalition and owner of The Porch, Alma Mexicana, and Canteen Market & Bistro. Reach her at clairecalvin@gmail.com

Putting In Some Perspective…

©Claire Calvin

From Claire Calvin (owner of The Porch, Alma Mexicana and co-owner of Canteen Market and Bistro) and her truly infinite wisdom:

A few more thoughts before I try to meet this new day.
Since the government closed down bars and in-restaurant service today in North Carolina, you may have seen many of your favorite restaurants post on social media that they would move to take-out/curb-side and/or delivery service, and you may have thought, “great! I’ll have so many options whenever I get sick of cooking all of this massive amount of food I just bought!” Maybe you also thought, “great! They’re going to be able to save jobs and stay in business.”
The reality is this:

• many restaurants will only have a few days to determine whether this model is viable, and if they don’t have a high volume of that business right away, they will close that service and shut down completely. If you wait until you’ve cooked through all of your homesteading recipes you’ve got planned, those options will be gone.

• Delivery and take-out, even in a best-case scenario, likely would only require between 50-20% of the back of house staff, and without drink sales and dining room service will not generate the tip income to keep almost any servers. So that’s a ton of employees people are still having to face letting go.

• Transitioning to a completely new service model is not as simple as just shoving the same food into boxes and taking it to your house. Among other things that make it hard are putting in place the technology to get a menu online, figuring out what hours, how far away can you deliver, what menu items, and what containers you’ll put everything in, and on and on and on. Trying to resolve those questions and implement new systems in a 12-24 hour window against the backdrop of laying off at least half of your workforce is challenging, to say the least.

So if your favorite restaurant is trying to throw this Hail Mary, here’s what you can do:

• Order right away for a week or so – you could take a meal to a friend who is struggling with homeschooling three kids while trying to “work from home” (😫😫😫) or an elderly person you know who is nervous to leave his or her home

•. Be patient when your order is messed up/cold/late/difficult to pay for because your favorite restaurant is hopefully not a big chain and not freaking amazon. They may literally be doing it for the first time.

• If you have a skill set that might help (ability to build web pages, graphic design ability to make signs and posters to help them advertise, social media savvy, or knowledge about setting up online credit card payments) and time to help, offer those skills.

• Be patient.
• Be patient.
• Be patient.

• Understand that it may not work anyway, and be supportive either way. Also, understand that there is grief going on behind the scenes either way.

For our businesses, we have one restaurant (The Porch) where a lot of this was already well-incorporated into our system and process, and we will hopefully be able to continue providing that service throughout this time. At Alma, we have made the decision to close completely after two nights of offering take-out only. At Canteen it was simply not feasible to even try because of the overhead of running even a bare-bones operation there because, without drink and product sales, nothing works. It is incredibly, unfathomably hard to watch something you just poured everything into essentially burn down in less than a week, and even harder not to be able to help the creative, hard-working, funny, talented people who helped build it with you.

Thank God we have the window of opportunity that we do at The Porch and Dinners on the Porch, but many independent restaurants do not. So support this last-ditch effort and maybe some independent restaurants will make it to the other side.

(And as a note, I am writing about restaurants because I run restaurants, but I know people in every different situation are suffering the same, so there is no hierarchy of hardship where I’m suggesting you owe anything to restaurants in particular. much of this applies to so many other small businesses and organizations – retail, schools, small non-profits, artists, etc. This horror is facing all of us even if we don’t get sick, so being patient and sticking together is all I can think of to help us weather this season of grief we’re all living through.)
Love to all & thank you again for all of your tremendous support thus far. Onward!

Local Restaurants Offering Takeout/Delivery/Curbside

These are the restaurants that have reported to me that they are offering Takeout (T), Delivery (D) or Curbside Pickup (C). Please refer to their Facebook pages (the links provided) as anything can change at a moment’s notice. Some of these places had released statements before and I have included the links to those posts in which I published the statements. This list will be ever-changing, too, as I find out more info.

Stay safe and wash your hands!

Mozelle’s Fresh Southern Bistro: (T, C) 11-7p (336) 703-5400

Slappy’s Chicken: (T, D)  — (336) 761-0268

Zesto Burgers & Ice Cream: (T, D) — (336) 793-5548

Skrimp Shack: (C, T, D) — (336) 331-3026

1703 Restaurant: (T, D) — (336) 725-5767

Carolina Ale House: See this post.

Xcaret: (C) working on it. (336) 955-1345

Wine Merchants/Vin 205: See this post.

Omega House: (T) presumably — (336) 724-5262

East Coast Wings: (T, D, C), Brent from the Peters Creek (336) 784-6700 and Reynolda (336) 293-4422 locations said they were. Country Club (336) 659-9992. Not sure of the others.

Camel City Coffee: (T) presumably — (336) 955-2246

Tart Sweets: (T) presumably — (336) 724-5663 Tart Sweets has closed temporarily.

Acadia Foods: (T) food only. Beer, wine and groceries still available as well. (336) 331-3251

Thai Harmony: (T, D) (336) 842-5532

Wingstop: (T, D) presumably — (336) 738-0129

Mozzarella Fellas: (T, D, C) — (336) 377-7179 New hours are 11-2/5-8. In-house delivery or online services.

Black Mountain Chocolate: (C) — (336) 293-4698

Taqueria Luciano: (D, T) — (336) 755-4782

Mary’s Gourmet Diner: (C) Fri thru Sunday 9 am-1 pm — (336) 723-7239

West End Poke and Burke Street Pizza: See this post.

The Porch, Alma Mexicana and Canteen Market: See this post. Only the Porch is doing takeout, now, including the take-and-bake.

Stoked and Social.: See this post.

Jeffrey Adams, Young Cardinal Cafe and Dogwood Hops and Crops: See this post.

Salem Organic Supply is offering FREE delivery within 25 miles of downtown WSNC and free shipping. — (336) 721-4367

Davie Tavern:  See this post.

West End Cafe: See this post.

Carrabba’s Italian Grill: 12:00 to 9:00 Monday-Thursday and 11:00 am to 10:00 pm Friday, Saturday and Sunday for (T). Delivery (through Uber Eats/Door Dash) 4-9p customers are asked to stay in their cars. — (336) 831-0580

Jugghead’s Growlers & Pints: open 3-7 daily for Growler and sales from the fridge. Carry out only. — (336) 546-7754

Spruce Street Garden – Craft Tavern: See this post.

J and J Food Mart: (T, D, C) — (336) 283-9609.

Camino Bakery: See this post.

Mission Pizza Napoletana: See this post.

Camino Real Mexican Restaurant: (T, D) — (336) 923-0001 or (336) 210-9517

Camel City BBQ Factory: (T) 11-9 — (336) 306-9999

Ryan’s Restaurant: See this post.

Crafted – Art of the Taco: See this post. Crafted has halted ALL services, including their takeout and delivery service.

Milner’s American Southern: See this post.

Whitaker Square Pizza: See this post.

Moji Coffee and More: online sales, Swipeby and call ahead ordering, online takeout ordering! Gift cards available here. (336) 939-6654 Also… Grab-n-Go purchases of espresso and other coffee drinks, bagels, muffins, scones, sandwiches and more.

Village Juice: (D) through DoorDash, (C, T) — (336) 986-9402

Miss Ora’s Kitchen: 11-7 call ahead for curbside delivery. (336) 725-6257

Campus Gas: See this post.

DiLisio’s Italian Restaurant: See this post.

Mellow Mushroom: See this post.

Bobo’s Deli and Grill: See this post.

Real Q on Country Club: (T) — (336) 760-3457

Organix Juice Bar: See this post.

Cafe Vera Du: See this post.

La Botana: See this post.

Finnigan’s Wake: Closed 3/18 and 3/19. Takeout on Friday forward. (336) 723-0322. Opie says closed until regular business hours and services return.

To Your Health Bakery: (D, C) — (336) 618-5275

Zito Pizzeria and Grill: (T, D) M-Thur 11 am to 2:30 pm/5 pm to 8 pm; Fri-Sat 11 am to 3 pm/5 pm to 8:30 pm. (336) 765-9486

Happie Food: Delivery all day, every day. (336) 701-2911

Stonefield Cellars: Open for takeout wine only (they’ll carry it to your car, too). — (336) 644-9908

Bonefish Grill: (T, D) 1-9 every day for pickup or you can do grub hub or door dash. (336) 724-4518

Baked Just SO Bakery: See this post.

Corks Caps & Taps: See this post.

Foothills: (C, D) More details as they’re available.

Cracker Barrel: (T) (336) 712-9880 Clemmons.

Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar: (D) https://order.baddaddysburgerbar.com/

Diamondback Grill: (T, D) from 11:30pm-3pm and 5:30pm-7:30pm. Order from their scaled menu here. (336) 722-0006.

Katharine Brasserie and Bar: (T, C) Delivery could be soon, according to Erin Doby, F&B Manager (336) 761-0203 (note: Chef Adam said they are doing a truncated menu with lower price points).

Bib’s Downtown: (C, D) Use their website here or call (336) 722-0007.

Pacific Rim Food Truck: Truck… watch their Facebook and Instagram for where they may be. (336) 772-3051.

Food Freaks of NC Food Truck: Truck… watch their Facebook and Instagram for where they may be. (704) 299-1865.

Jimmy John’s: (C, D) Call ahead to have them come to the curb. The delivery app has a “leave at doorstep” option. Check your local listings for more details.

Krankie’s: (T) full-menu, coffee and bags of coffee. (336) 722-3016.

Honky Tonk Smokehouse: (T, D, C) 11:00-8:00, Tuesday – Saturday (336) 794-2270. Swipeby for (C) Take Out Central or Postmates for (D).

Firebirds Wood Fired Grill: (T, D) Enjoy 20% OFF ToGo with promo code 20TOGO on their website! DoorDash, UberEats or Postmates (D). (336) 659-3973

Goody’s Grill: (T, C) Curbside being a drive-thru. 336-765-3100

HakkaChow: (T) (336) 893-8178

Rooster’s – A Noble Grille: (T) — (336) 777-8477

Village Tavern (both Reynolda Village/Hanes Mall): (T, C) 15% off to go and 25% off bottles of wine. (336) 760-8686 (HM); (336) 748-0221 (RV).

Cloverdale Kitchen: (C) — (336)725-4701

Small Batch: 11-8:30pm food and growler fills. (336) 893.6395 (T, C through Swipeby, D through Uber Eats)

Mossy’s: (T, C) Via their website or (336) 766-7045.

Viva Chicken: (T, C) via their website or Viva Chicken App. (336) 607-5355.

Cugino Forno: (T, D) via their website or (336) 448-0102.

Fiddlin’ Fish Brewing: (T, C) online or (336) 999-8945

Forsyth Seafood Market and Cafe: (T) — (336) 748-0793

Greek Guy’s Grill: (C, T) Drive-thru. Call ahead pick up at the window. Breakfast, lunch and dinner, full menu. (336) 794-2545

HakkaChow Asian Eats: (T) — (336) 893-8178

Vincenzo’s: (D, T) — (336) 765-3707

West Coast Wanderer, Food Truck: Truck (303) 834-5984

Intown Donutz: (T, D) — (336) 331-3414

3 Layers Cakery: (T, D) — (336) 701-0510

Little Richard’s Barbecue: (C, D, T) All Locations — (336) 766-0401

Duck Donuts: (T, C) — (336) 893-5356

Bad Daddy Burger Bar: (T, D) — (336) 893-6456

Los Toritos Mexican Cuisine: (D, T) — (336) 829-5232 DoorDash, UberEats, GrubHub

Status of Alma Mexicana, Canteen, The Porch, Burke Street Pizza, West End Poke and Social./Stoked

From the restaurants themselves:


The Porch, Canteen and Alma Mexicana

Starting today, we are officially closing our dining rooms at all of our restaurants for the time being.

However, we are continuing to operate in the following ways this week:

Dinners on the Porch Meal Delivery:
Our pre-order, prepared meals and grocery items will be delivered Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday each week. We are sending our emails and posting the menu order form on our social media, so please make sure you are signed up for those emails and check our Facebook page to place your order. You can find out more information at www.dinnersontheporch.com.

The Porch:
Grab & Go with assorted grocery items (beer, wine, limited product, margarita mix, etc) for sale every day between 10 am – 8 pm. Items will be first-come, first-served and we have production teams working in multiple shifts, so there will be items being made throughout the day every day.

Porch Menu Items available for take-out and delivery. You can place those orders in person at The Porch, by calling us at (336)745-8300 or via our app, which you can find in the App Store by searching The Porch Kitchen & Cantina. At this time, will deliver between 4 pm and 8 pm only, so other orders will need to be picked up for the time being.

Canteen:
Our Market will be open this week from 12 pm to 6 pm.
Our Bistro is closed for the time being.

Alma Mexicana:
Alma is open for take-out only this week from 4 pm – 8 pm. You can place take-out orders in person or by calling (336)918-5605. Alma’s menu is available at www.almamexicanaws.com.

Update: Canteen and Alma have closed until further notice. The Porch is still offering take-and-bake and to go orders.

**

Burke Street Pizza, Quiet Pint and West End Poke (from Dave Hillman)

Burke Street Pizza will continue to have delivery and take-out available. We would appreciate it if you could order online when possible and pay with a credit card so less interaction will be needed. The original store is working towards setting up reserved parking so we can also have curbside take-out. www.Burkestreetpizza.com Thank you. Burke Street (336) 721-0011 Sherwood (336) 760-4888

West End Poke will be re-opening soon…very soon hopefully is NOW open (3/20/20),  with Delivery and Curbside take-out. Check out our website at www.Westendpoke.com to check out our menu or to order online. Visit us on Facebook for announcements regarding the reopening. (336) 842-3712

Quiet Pint will be closing at 5 pm on 3/17 until further notice.

**

Stoked & Social.

Owner Update: Good morning everyone! Social’s dining room will not be open this week. HOWEVER, we will be offering a few dishes and family-style meals beginning tomorrow. For purchasing/staffing etc, we ask that we get as many pre-orders as possible. You will be able to purchase via our website therefore no money & pens will have to be used. You will be welcome to pick up your items or we can deliver them. I will post our menu for the week later this afternoon. Please reach out to me via email if you have any special request for your family this week. If we have the product, we will happily try and prepare it. Our sister restaurant Stoked Woodfired Pub will be offering pick up and delivery as well. Thank you for staying home during this time. I hope that these measures truly help prevent the spread of this awful virus.

Erika & Jeff
Erika@socialsouthernkitchen.com

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 69

In Episode #69, proudly recorded at Test Pattern Studios:

Kelly and Tim talk about:

  • A listener writes in about investigating some food news. We do!
  • Tim talked to Claire Calvin about Alma Mexicana and the new Canteen Market & Bistro.
  • Penny Path Cafe.
  • Waldo’s Wings Downtown.
  • The Sixth Annual Burke Street Food Truck Festival.
  • A new Ramen restaurant is coming to downtown WSNC, finally!
  • Food Holidays.

Don’t forget our sponsors:

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!

The Man Who Ate the Town Podcast Episode 59

Kelly Bone

In Episode #59, proudly recorded at Test Pattern Studios:

  • Kelly Bone returns as a guest and now, co-host of the podcast.
  • Tim and Kelly talk about their plans for the show moving forward, what it will be, what they’ll talk about.
  • Willows re-opens after kitchen renovations.
  • Alma Mexicana to open this week.
  • Food Holidays and History.

Don’t forget my sponsors:

Washington Perk & Provision Company. Better than a convenience store but not quite a grocery store, in the heart of Washington Park and Downtown WSNC.

The Humble Bee Shoppe is challenging your perception of scratch made and leaving you with an experience you couldn’t possibly forget! With inventive flavor combos and a sense of artistry, The Humble Bee Shoppe isn’t your average bakery.

The Man Who Ate the Town is part of The Less Desirables Network. Give it a listen on iTunes, Stitcher, Podcast Addict and TuneIn, basically anywhere you can listen to podcasts. Or you can listen here (at the bottom of the post).

Bon Appetit!