Governor mandates restaurant closures

Locals forced to adjust due to coronavirus concerns

BIG RAPIDS, REED CITY, EVART -- Local restaurants worked through the weekend to alter their cleaning policies and procedures due to the threat of coronavirus.

On Monday, they began the process of implementing more changes, as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order stating that all restaurants be closed, except for delivery service, window service, walk-up service, drive-through service or drive up service.

Linda Proctor, owner of Sawmill Saloon in Big Rapids, said they will remain open and will offer take out and pick up service on the patio from 11 a.m. to dusk every day. Beer and wine will also be available for pick-up.

"We will bring orders to the parking lot if customers want, so they don't have to walk through the bar," she said.

Proctor plans to keep workers busy doing odd jobs around the facility like painting, she said.

"They'll be taken care of as much as possible," Proctor added. "This will be devastating for the economy as a whole."

"I'll weather it okay," she added. "We've been here for 50 years, and we're not going anywhere."

Schuberg's Bar and Grill manager, Jennifer Rumsey said, as of today, they will be going to take out, curb-side pick-up, and delivery only.

"We are pretty panicky over it all, but remain optimistic," Rumsey said. "We've never done delivery before, but we're trying to figure that all out."

Delivery will be done only within the city limits and will be free. It will require a credit card payment when placing the order.

Curbside orders can be placed by phone and also will require a credit card payment when the order is placed. Customers can park in front or in back of the restaurant and someone will bring the order out to them.

Rumsey said, although going to take-out and delivery only will impact the need for staff, they have plans to keep them employed.

"We are trying to work out hours to keep our staff employed," she said. "We have 20 families we support through our employment. They are our main concern and our top priority right now.

"We will try to give them hours doing deep cleaning and that type of thing," Rumsey said. "Some will be doing deliveries. They will lose hours, but it will give them something to do. ... We're just going to hunker down and make the most of it. We have our merchandise sales, and we hope the local community will continue to support us."

Connie Freiberg, manager at Blue Cow and Raven Brewing and BBQ in Big Rapids, said they are planning to remain open for take-out and free delivery up to two miles.

"We will offer that during regular business hours from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.," Freiberg said.

They will also be offering a daily family meal for four, for $19.95, available for pick up from 5 to 7 p.m. every day, she said. It will be posted on their Facebook page the day before, and customers can call ahead to place an order.

Beer growlers and unopened wine will also be available for pick up, she said.

Freiberg said they plan to keep the kitchen staff and some delivery staff employed.

"We are just praying our customers will keep us going through this," she said.

Garrett Murphy, manager at Reed City Brewing Company in Reed City, said they will begin take out and delivery only.

"Curbside take out is available now, and delivery service is in the works," Murphy said. "We are working out the logistics for that."

They will have canned beer and growlers available for take out as well as menu items.

Murphy said the impact on the employees would be minimal because they only have one staff member at the bar and serving at a time.

"The greatest impact on the business will be because it will keep visitors away," Murphy said. "Our business is probably 60-percent local and 40-percent visitors in town, so that will impact us pretty harshly."

Murphy said they will rely on the local residents to keep them going during this time.

Lamplighter Cafe in Evart will also be going to take-out and delivery orders only, said owner Deb Garner.

"This is definitely going to lower our sales," Garner said. "We just want to try to make sure we use up the supply of food we have right now."

Garner said the staff would also be hurt by the change.

"There's not a whole lot I can do for them," she said. "We typically have five or six working at a time, but now we will only need one or two to do orders."

Hopefully they can take advantage of the government assistance available, she added.

Norm Graff, manager at Ruby Tuesday in Big Rapids, said as of today they will be going to carry out only from noon to 8 p.m., but will continue to deliver for catering orders.

"This is definitely going to be a huge cut in our business," Graff said. "But we will judge it day by day. We will be down to just a few employees on each shift. We will have fewer kitchen staff and almost no staff out front."

Employees are encourage to check the government website for assistance during this time, he said.

A sign posted on the door at Buffalo Wild Wings in Big Rapids Monday afternoon said they were open for take out orders only.

Manager Steve Cassiday said they will follow the governor's directive that no more than five people can be inside the facility at a time, and orders will be available for pick-up only.

They will have only kitchen staff and someone to answer the phone on hand and it will be mostly managers, he said.

"It's the hardest thing to do to post a new schedule with no hours for anyone on it," Cassiday said. "We will take it day by day."

Cassiday said the employees were informed about where to go to find out about government assistance that might be available to them.

The drive-through at McDonald's on Northland Drive was full, while a sign posted on the door of the restaurant informed customers that the dining room was closed.

The executive order restrictions are to remain in place until March 30.