One year ago, we were so excited to release our first-ever food issue! “It’s all about the food,” I wrote in this column, recounting the virtues of my favorite local restaurants. Our events revolve around food. Our earliest memories involve food. We plan holidays and vacations around food.
And then came the pandemic. (I believe it’s required that every article in 2020 contain some variation on this phrase.) With restaurants and bars hit hard by the business shutdown, we weren’t sure how we would navigate our follow-up food issue. But that’s not until October, we thought. Surely we’ll be back to normal by then!
Well, here we are… (Is it really October already?) We made it through this dizzying summer, and food-based businesses have not been static. They’ve implemented all kinds of innovations and pivots in order to stay afloat. We’ve seen the rise of “curbside” carryout and the welcome mitigations of outdoor dining. We’ve also watched, sadly, as some businesses closed their doors forever. And then there were those that actually opened during these challenging times.
It might seem unusual that anyone would start a business in the middle of a pandemic—until you consider the alternative. Having already invested so much time, money, blood, sweat and tears into the effort, of course they did not simply throw up their hands and walk away.
Small businesses often must adapt to circumstances beyond their control, as all of us have done over the last six months. What’s been demonstrated is not only the tremendous impact of the local food economy, but also how important our dining options are. It’s not just about nourishment and sustenance.
Food brings us together. The human need to socialize and share a meal with others is very real. This fellowship is more important than ever, especially in these contentious times. As the cold of winter soon begins to rear its head, we must remember that everyone is struggling—and be kind to one another.
Shopping (and eating) local looks a little different these days. Though our seats are still at the table, the table is no longer the same. Surely someday—“when we aren’t six feet apart,” as the popular tune goes—we’ll be able to come together again. No doubt we will gather around food. PM