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Some of Craft & Crew's Delivery/Takeout Orders Are Going to the Dogs

Humans aren't the only ones who have had to switch to takeout meals rather than dine-in options.

Becca Stone

Just like their loyal companions’, dogs no longer have access to The Block’s enclosed patio in St Louis Park during the coronavirus pandemic, but that doesn’t mean Fido can’t have his meal delivered along with his human—and the two cats.

“Dog meals have been selling like crazy,” said Luke Derheim, co-owner, along with David Benowitz, of the seven-restaurant chain that includes Stanley’s NE Bar Room and The Howe.

A takeout customer posted on social media a picture of their bag of food from The Block, with the message: “Dinner for hoomans; turkey muttloaf for dog; salmon cakes for cats; Supporting local biz, winning social distancing.”

It was definitely a much needed day brightener in a surreal landscape.

The owners of Craft & Crew Hospitality closed their restaurants last Monday and switched to takeout before the governor mandated it the next day, and so they’ve had a few days headstart on offering takeout. They were already working with third-party delivery services, but have added more providers to expand their reach. While the big four delivery services have announced they are eliminating fees to help restaurants, the fees so far have been on the customer side, not the restaurants’. Derheim believes, however, the delivery companies will do more fee spliting on the backend, if things continue in the current vane.

In all, Craft & Crew had to furlough 270 employees. Management was given the option of staying on in the takeout/delivery scenario. “Management is running the locations,” he said, adding that includes two cooks per restaurant.

So far around 60 to 70 percent of their business has been curbside.  People order online and then call once they arrive, staying in their car.  The manager then will run out the meal.

“If it stays like this, “ Derheim says, referring to the sales volume, “we can keep the lights on and pay the management team. I think it could happen, especially if we can get the liquor laws changed; that would keep us above water.”

The liquor laws he’s talking about refers to is allowing restaurants to sell alcohol along with their takeout meals. Brent Frederick of Jester Concepts is spearheading a petition and working with HospitalityMN to make that happen.

“The alcohol to go sales is getting traction as the governor just referenced it today in his news conference,” Frederick said via email. “We have HospitalityMN lobbying for it at the legislature, as well as a petition that is floating around, you can find it on change.org. The governor is taking it into consideration and I believe that we should have it within the next few weeks or so.”

During the new conference, Gov. Walz mentioned that there was a strong online presence advocating liquor to go and that while they are considering it, he has to weigh every decision they make with Minnesotans’ safety and welfare.

Craft and Crew ownership is doing what it can to help furloughed employees. As the general public is being asked to buy gift cards for future use so that restaurants have the cashflow now, Craft & Crew is donating $20 from every $100 card to help feed families.

Derheim also is impressed by their suppliers, such as Reinhart,who is donating their surplus food to help feed people in need, such as Perspectives, a nonprofit that provides housing and support for women in transition and their children, and People Serving People, that helps homeless and at-risk children and their families.

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