East Lansing community rallies to Keep Restaurants Afloat

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Chase Goff

Downtown East Lansing

When COVID-19 struck the nation, restaurants had to adjust to meet health regulations, making it hard for local businesses to keep their doors open. Mike Krueger, owner and general manager of Crunchy’s Bar and Grill, said that he had to completely change their model, as well as acquire products to meet the demands of the customers ordering takeout and delivery.

“It was difficult, in the sense that we had to acquire a lot more to-go type products, boxes, to-go silverware, and that sort of thing because we decided that we wanted to still stay open for takeout and for delivery options,” said Crunchy’s Bar and Grill owner and general manager, Mike Krueger. “Also turning our model into a takeout model, rather than a dine in model was a challenge for us.”

Despite facing these challenges, Crunchy’s Bar and Grill was ready to open back up as soon as the stay at home order was lifted on June 1. The staff just needed to be recalled and trained, which wasn’t an issue according to Krueger.

“For us, we were kind of ready for it,” said Krueger. “We had planned on it being around that time, and so you know, to recall all of the staff and get them trained wasn’t too much of a challenge, it was just a lot of work on their part to have to change their schedules and get in here for training.”

Chase Goff

Crunchy’s Bar and Grill

Crunchy’s wasn’t the only local restaurant that was ready for the reopening. According to Joe Bell, owner of the Peanut Barrel, it was ready to reopen immediately. Bell said that the Peanut Barrel experienced some growing pains, but made all of the adjustments necessary to run a safe restaurant.

“We were prepared to reopen, but we’re still going through growing pains with regard to all the changes that we had to implement in order to get open and try to keep people safe,” said Bell. “We know how to run a restaurant, we know how to run a nice, safe, restaurant, but now it’s important that we’re even nicer and safer.”

Even though The Peanut Barrel experienced tough changes, as well as loss of income due to the pandemic, the East Lansing community helped them keep their doors open, and helped them keep staff employed through takeout and delivery orders.

“I think they did great. We didn’t do anywhere near the business that we need to do to maintain profitability, but we did keep our doors open, we did keep some staff employed, we did keep our name out in public,” said Bell. “We did everything we could, and the community itself really rallied around us. I was amazed, we actually did more takeout business than I ever thought we would’ve, and some of that still hangs on, there’s a lot of people who still don’t want to come in, and so they’re still ordering carryout.”

Chase Goff

Customers eating outside of The Peanut Barrel

The East Lansing community didn’t just help keep The Peanut Barrel afloat, but they did the same for Crunchy’s Bar and Grill. Krueger said they were able to keep a lot of regulars coming in, and were fortunate to have the kind of support they got from the citizens of East Lansing.

“The East Lansing community did a great job,” said Krueger. “It was nice to see the support of everybody and for them to be tipping the staff really well and that sort of thing was a big deal, so yeah, I think East Lansing did a great job.”

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