JASON RANTZ

How restaurants are trying to stay afloat and help others during coronavirus

Apr 3, 2020, 1:38 PM

We’re continuing to highlight how some businesses are trying to stay afloat during coronavirus while doing good for the community. Today we make a stop on Bainbridge Island, where Hitchcock Restaurant Group had to close its dining rooms to business, but that doesn’t mean it closed down the kitchens.

In fact, Hitchcock is now offering family-style takeout meals, but with a little bit of a twist. When you buy a meal, you also help a family in need. Brendan McGill is the chef and owner of Hitchcock, and he joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss this offering.

What is McGill doing differently during the coronavirus stay-at-home order?

“At first, we were trying to figure out how to pivot each of the businesses so that we could keep our staff safe and comply with the new rules, and found out pretty soon that wasn’t going to have anywhere close to a sustainable level of business for most of our places,” he said. “So we closed down six out of seven of the operations and kept doing a takeout and delivery from our pizzeria Bruciato on Bainbridge Island, which has been great.”

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The pay-it-forward program McGill has adopted is meant to give a customers a chance to help those in need and on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.

“This was inspired by a move that Trophy Cupcakes was doing where they said, ‘Just buy some cupcakes for first responders,’ and they’ll match it and it will feel good. We’re working with the Helpline House and seeking people directly who are in need of any kind of support right now. And people who buy a pay it forward box through the CSA program (community-supported agriculture), we match that.”

As Jason noted, there is a lot of news rightly focused on restaurants because they have plenty of staff members being hit hard by layoffs due to a lack of business. Also impacted in all of this are local suppliers and farmers, giving quality products to the actual restaurants. If restaurants aren’t doing enough business, that means they’re not ordering from those farms. McGill has a program to hopefully mitigate that.

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“They’re being hurt tremendously by this crisis that we’re all experiencing, and so being able to go direct to the consumer, … we also launched a CSA box that’s community supported agriculture. You’re probably used to seeing them come from farms where people subscribe to it and every week they get a box,” he said.

“Ours is a mixture of food from our farm and from other organic farms on Kitsap and the Olympic Peninsula, and then a bunch of different prepared foods that we make both from our foods company and just in the restaurant. … Keeping this commerce going for the producers is important.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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