In an effort to provide a little end-of-the-week cheer and, hopefully, add a needed boost to places and people I admire, I’m going to start featuring area businesses that are rising to the challenges of this crazy year. I plan to write about three businesses every Friday.
If you know of any similarly admirable businesses, let me know and I’ll feature them in future posts.
Thankfully (but not necessarily) all three of this week’s businesses are walking distance from my house, though I probably should have lapped them a few times to work off some of the tastiness.
This week, all three featured businesses are restaurants. If you’re able to, I invite you to support these small businesses. It won’t be a hardship, though. They all offer quality food in a safe and friendly atmosphere.
Meade Street Bistro
It is hard enough to maintain an established business in the midst of a rising pandemic. Imagine opening a new restaurant just before your governor issues a safer at home order.
Meade Street Bistro, a beautifully renovated restaurant located on the southwest corner of Meade Street and Northland Avenue, adjusted dramatically. Originally planned as a premier cocktail and chef’s cuisine type of establishment — the kind of place you might go with friends and linger for an hour or two, Meade Street Bistro changed its menu, offered curbside pickup and third party delivery and, most impressive of all, installed a retractable front panel, outdoor seating and heat lamps.
Everyone wears masks, the tables are socially distant and the food is delicious. I met my mom for lunch there this week and we were able to sit outside and have a safe and very enjoyable meal. I’m really excited to have a restaurant in the neighborhood that will offer outdoor seating even when the weather turns.
Meade Street Bistro also works with local vendors, including one of our favorite homemade ice cream makers…
Frio Mexican Treats
In the interest of blog research (and because I have an insatiable sweet tooth) I swung by Frios last night for a little treat. Because members of my household love their Spicy Cheetos macaroni and cheese and their ice cream, I have been to Frios several times since COVID-19 made its unwelcome presence in our area. I am happy to report that Frios offers curbside pickup and outdoor dining. Last night I called in my order and, five minutes later, I rolled down my car window and a masked Frios employee placed it in the passenger seat of my car.
Frio also contracts with third party delivery services if you get a hankering for ice cream or something a little more savory (like Mexican street corn) and you don’t want to leave your house.
While necessary and very helpful in these troubled times, those services like EatStreet, Doordash and Postmates can take up to 30% of a restaurant’s revenue. I just mention that because it’s something to keep in mind if you are weighing delivery versus curbside pickup.
An old school Wisconsin Supper Club that serves one of the best Old Fashioneds around, Mark’s Eastside is used to a packed house, especially on the weekends when people would cheerfully stand three deep at the bar to kitbutz, sip a cocktail or two and wait for an open table. Recognizing immediately the need to adjust things in the wake of the pandemic, Mark’s shifted gears and offered drive thru service that, after a couple of traffic jams on Wisconsin Avenue and some slow-moving pickup lines in those early days, has evolved into an impressively smooth operation. These days you can swing in for a Friday Fish Fry and drive almost straight through to pick up your food.
They also reduced their inside seating capacity to allow for safe indoor dining and added back patio for outdoor dining. Last month, we enjoyed a very nice indoor dining experience at Mark’s, where all of the waitstaff wore masks and the tables were comfortably separated.
With the infection rates continuing to rise in this area, we’re relying on takeout and outdoor seating for a while. Last Friday we picked up four orders of Mark’s Haddock Special, and ended up with enough food for all of us hungry adults and leftovers for the weekend.
Of course we’re all looking forward to a time when we can relax and enjoy the dining experience all three of these places mean to offer — where we can sit with friends and family and spend a lot of time and money on an evening out.
For now, though, it’s really nice to see business owners offer the best experience they can without sacrificing the health of their staff and clientele. It isn’t easy, though, and I know each one of these places could use our help.
Here’s hoping you all enjoy a safe and happy weekend!