Saving Our Restaurants

My pal Michelle recently posted on Facebook how, after receiving her first vaccine, she’d decided to take a ride through town (Chicago). She’d been sheltering in place for a year and was finally getting out to see the world. It had changed. Stores and hotels were closed and even behemoth’s like Macy’s were closing permanently. 

Our way of life is becoming unrecognizable. I fear for the restaurants the most. Especially the little mom and pop outfits, the locally-owned, non-franchise ones. My favorite Mexican place — downtown and a few blocks from my house — is gone. A victim of the pandemic. More are following suit.

What will be left when we finally reach the new normal?

There’s a group in my town that is helping to retain a small part of our food culture. Do It Local Berks has set up a program where local restaurants are partnering with organizations looking to raise funds. They offer homecooked meals for anyone seeking a night off from cooking dinner. Here’s how it works:

You pick the night you’d like to have off. Visit the calendar to see which restaurant is cooking that night. Check out their meals and put your order in.

Or you could find a restaurant you’ve been wanting to check out, see when they’re cooking, put your order in.

When your night off comes, you head to the pickup location at the appropriate time and voilà, dinner with no muss no fuss.

I ordered shrimp scampi dinner for four from a place called Mimmo’s. The fundraiser du jour was a benefit for the Exeter Youth Cheerleading squad. Rah, rah, rah! Go Exeter! The family style dinner (everything in one pan) came with salad and bread. The whole thing cost forty bucks. Not sure how anyone can raise funds on a meal that only costs ten bucks a head, but there you go. They’re getting ‘er done.

The house vinaigrette was delectable, the croutons garlicky, the scampi rich, and the shrimp jumbo. Thank you, Mimmo’s, for an outstanding evening off.

And thank you Do It Local for putting this together with places like Mimmo’s, Gourmand Café, Nonno Alby’s, GNA, and Crave Café. Keep up the good work, folks. I’m going to try all y’all.

Not in the Berks County, PA area? Look for similar organizations saving the restaurants in your town. Eat out early and often!

And to find out whether or not our dear Vivienne is able to keep her restaurant, Le Bon Chef, open, follow the progress on the film by signing up for the newsletter:

Sue Lange/producer, LE BON CHEF 

Taking delivery of Mimmo’s Shrimp Scampi for four. Yum!


  • Saddened by this story, it brings back the family stories from my own archives. My paternal grandparents owned the General Warren Inn / Makvern. My Grandfather ran the business part of the establishment and bar keeping duties. My Grandmother cooked everything on the menu and all housekeeping. An accident on the Lincoln Highway, had my Grandmother trying to help at the scene of the accident, but it was too much for her. The shock caused her death. My Dad raised his two sisters, as Grandfather tried to continue the Inn. The General Warren was lost, during the Depression years. Much later, years of struggle, the family was able to get the business back. By then, it was starting over with nothing.
    Businesses are hard to keep in ordinary times but in upheaval, it is almost impossible.
    Thank you, Sue, for attention to a very real hardship for those in the industry.

    • Thanks for sharing your family’s stories. “Businesses are hard to keep in ordinary times…” very true!


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