Jo Ann Jaacks: Food in the time of corona virus

Noel Fisher, Andy Stowers and Michael Hart hold down the fort at Saltwater Grille in Litchfield.

The greatest Irish holiday, signaling the coming of Spring, is usually celebrated with wild abandon at restaurants and pubs. This year’s somber tone was due to the closing of all restaurants and bars for dine-in and drink-in availability. Instead, most restaurant owners quickly downsized and branched off to offering take-out meals or delivery, their only options if they didn’t want to close.

Andy Stowers, co-owner of the popular Saltwater Grille in Litchfield, posted on Facebook an upbeat message, considering the circumstances. “We are offering curbside pick up to our customers from 5 to 8 p.m.! Call your order in, park in our parking lot and our staff (wearing gloves) will deliver to you! You can still get the same quality meals that you love from Saltwater Grille during this difficult time! Also, all orders over $100 will receive a free bottle of house red or white wine. We are fortunate enough to be from a small town with a strong and supportive community. Your support helps us pay our rent and employees throughout this struggle. We appreciate any and all business at this time!”

I wondered about the cheerful tone, so I checked out the curbside menu and was one of the first to arrive, so grabbed the best parking spot and waited a minute or two. The front door was open, so I walked in and was greeted by Stowers, carrying a bag of food and smiling. Immediately following, two men came in the open door and warmly greeted him. He went to fetch their take-out bags as well.

Michael Hart from Bantam said he was “here to support local business” and Noel Fisher from Litchfield identified himself as a “good friend and long-time customer.”

Stowers said he regretted that the majority of his staff was on leave since there was no need for bartenders or servers. “It’s just me and two staff members on board,” he said.

My lobster mac & cheese was such a large portion that I will be eating it for several days. I was thinking about my favorite bartenders at Happy Hour and wishing them well. You can bemoan the 20,000 jobs lost in Connecticut (as of St. Patrick’s Day) or you can raise a drink at your own home and be grateful that your family is healthy and your faith tells you “This too shall pass.” And you can support local businesses that are teetering on the edge during this time of trial.

Saltwater Grille is located at 26 Commons Drive, Litchfield, and contacts are 860-567-4900 and www.saltwater-grille.com/files/curbside-pick-up-menu.pdf.

Connecticut Media Group