For local restaurant owners like Sue Simek, navigating ever-changing restrictions has taken a toll throughout the ongoing pandemic.
Simek, who runs the Feed Mill Restaurant in Jordan, had to furlough most of her wait staff when the second wave of shutdowns severely limited their capacity to operate.
For those who remain actively on-staff, including waitress Rachel Sweere, questions about how long an unstable income will be sustainable have come up.
“I don’t want to go get another job and then have to quit it once the pandemic ends, but we don’t really know when that’s going to be,” Sweere said.
Though state lawmakers made steps toward helping small businesses in a session last week, Simek said she has yet to hear how or when that help will come.
“It’s like watering a dead flower,” said Simek.
When they heard about the second round of shut-downs, co-owner Jeff McCarthy and Sweere put their heads together to find a creative way to promote the business throughout the holiday season.
Sweere’s husband, Jordan City Councilman Terry Stier, has long played Santa at events from the annual Jordan Dazzle Parade to the odd city council meeting.
Due to the lack of events this year, Santa had some extra time on his hands, and offered to help out with food delivery in the weekends leading up to Christmas, dropping off breakfasts and lunches to homes as far out as Shakopee and New Prague while delivering a touch of Christmas cheer.
“The demand has been so high since we’ve started advertising it, we’ve had to turn people away,” Simek said.
Though the hope was originally to promote the business in a devastating time, Simek said now, hearing about the joy Santa brings to area kids is the best part of all for her.
“Santa isn’t able to be almost anywhere else this year,” Simek said. “I’m finding the most joy in seeing how happy it makes some of these kids.”
Santa’s second and final round of deliveries before he returned to the North Pole was the weekend of Dec. 19-20.
Simek, McCarthy and Sweere know the next few weeks and months will continue to be difficult for Jordan small businesses, many of whom are not equipped with space or capital to offer outdoor dining in the cold winter months.
Still, they’re hopeful that the Jordan residents who have supported them throughout the pandemic will continue show up until things are back to “normal.”
The Feed Mill Restaurant is located at 200 Water St. Jordan, MN 55352, and they’re open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for takeout.