By Laurie Paolicelli
I hope this finds you in good health, safe and secure in your own homes. We’re all entering an uncharted territory, struggling to maintain a sense of community while at the same time – and most importantly – keeping ourselves and others healthy. Among many other businesses, Chapel Hill and Orange County area restaurants large and small have scrambled to make potential customers feel safe this week.
The Visitors Bureau is not positioned to offer advice or guidance to anybody; we’re not health experts and, like you, depend on the direction of those who are. We all have our stories. From our perch overseeing our local businesses, we’d like to share some of their stories with you, and today those stories come from our restaurateurs.
To the best of our knowledge, there is no evidence that shows the virus, which spreads primarily through respiratory droplets (coughing, sneezing), is transmitted through food.
But the question is, Is it safe to dine out? Dining in close proximity to others is definitely not advisable, but, if precautions are taken beforehand, meals can be had. https://www.eater.com/2020/3/12/21177140/dining-out-at-restaurants-during-coronavirus-covid-19-explainer
From past experience we know that one group of people who are often overlooked during emergencies similar to the one we’re enduring now are service industry workers. Many of these hardworking people will lose their livelihood over the coming weeks and may not recover for some time.
How can we help? Here are some of our business owners, in their own words, telling their stories:
Alison Nichols Clapper, Maple View Farms
“At Maple View Farm we are currently open Noon-9pm and we have a designated person who wipes down all counters, tables, doors knobs, bathrooms every 45 minutes. Our servers are all wearing gloves and we hand out spoons now to avoid contact with people taking them. We also have someone who comes and deep cleans in the mornings and works on the porches. Our employees and customers are the most important people to us. We are trying very hard.”
Botanist and Barrel
“The best way the public can support us, small businesses and local farms, is to continue to make us all a part of your meals and lives. We are working hard and taking extra precautions to produce healthy and safe food and beverages. We are offering delivery to your door, curbside pickup, and a variety of creative solutions that adhere to social distancing. Losing small businesses as a side effect of this pandemic would be devastating; the very fabric of what makes our community unique could be lost. You can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 919.644.7777 to place an order. You can also visit our farm Thursday-Sunday to enjoy cider in our expansive outdoor picnic area or grab bottles to go.”
Kevin Callaghan, Acme Restaurant
“We take solace that we are part of this great community. And that whatever the solution, it will require all of us to stand together. Eating out doesn’t always require dining in. Ordering food to go or buying gift cards are two strong, supportive alternatives. Over the next week, Acme will begin offering family-style meals-to-go that can be picked up at the restaurant between 3pm and 6pm, delivered to your car door. In the coming weeks and months we are committed to forging other, similar innovations as we navigate these clearly uncharted waters. If you have ideas, we are all ears.”
Aaron Vandemark, Panciuto
We’ve decided to close Panciuto for 14 days beginning March 16th. I want to appeal to you and advocate for Panciuto for a moment. We’ve been serving you for fourteen years, uniquely operating in a local economy by purchasing 95% of our goods from neighboring farms and producers, people you probably know. This makes our operations all-the-more meaningful. As we suspend operations, we will sadly not be making food purchases from our friends and neighbors. One way to support your favorite restaurants, including Panciuto, is to consider purchasing a gift certificate. It serves as a cash injection during this challenging time when there is little to no revenue coming in. (919-732-6261). http://www.panciuto.com
Pizza Mercato Carrboro
“We are happy to run your takeout order to your car. Just let us know when you call in and we will take care of the rest. Keep supporting your local restaurants and small businesses – we need you now more than ever.” (919) 967-2277 www.pizzeriamercatonc.com
We are Now Offering Crook’s To-Go. Call us at (919) 929-7643 and we’ll have your food ready! https://crookscorner.com
We will be offering Curbside Pickup and Delivery for the duration of these crisis times! Go to www.antoniashillsborough.com for a current menu. 919-643-7722
Jujubee is open for business and will deliver your dinner right to your door. You can now satisfy your cravings for Shaking Noodles and Hanger Steak in your home. Dinner only.
Oakleaf offers takeout and in-home catering for your convenience. They will also make curbside pick-up available. Daily menus will be posted by 11am each day. Call us to place your order – you can pay over the phone – 984-234-0054. And you can call us in the morning to place your order for dinner if you’d like.”
Acme’s Callaghan sums up the restaurateurs’ ethos like this: “All of us in the restaurant world love what we do. We love the food, the laughter, the work. And, of course, we love all of you, our guests and friends. Every local restaurant looks forward to a time when this crisis is behind us. But until then, it’s good to know that so many great people have our back.”
We have made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend service in our dining room, but Coronato is now available for take-out a delivery Monday – Thursday from 4pm – 9pm. Friday and Saturday from Noon – 9PM. Someone from the Coronato team will deliver your order to you. Delivery will be within an approx 10-mile radius. Call us at 919-240-4804. www.Coronatopizza.com and click the “take out & delivery tab.
For a complete update on restaurants that are offering take-out or altered service, click here.
Note: Many of us struggle to meet our financial obligations week to week, and these people need our help.
Laurie Paolicelli is the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.