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St. Louis restaurants cook up new concept to stay afloat: Selling grocery store items

"We've always thought, how can we be more accessible to our guests?" the Salt + Smoke owner said

ST. LOUIS — Restaurant owners are struggling during COVID-19, but some are taking a crack at something new to keep them afloat.

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Owner of Salt + Smoke, Tom Schmidt, said his restaurant does everything from scratch in house. That's when they got the idea to start a grocery store program. 

"We had all this product that people need for home cooking, so we thought why not make it available to our guests?" Schmidt said. "We've always thought, how can we be more accessible to our guests?"

You can buy milk, eggs, veggies and even toilet paper.

Credit: Tom Schmidt

They've even created pitmaster packs, which act like smoker guides.

Credit: Tom Schmidt

Chef and owner of Yolklore, Mary Bogacki, also is putting her hat in the ring when it comes to her business acting as a store. 

"Our whole motto from the beginning has been multiple revenue streams. You can't put all your eggs in one basket," she said. "We have farms from all over where we got a ton of our eggs from, our dairy."

Credit: Mary Bogacki

Bogacki explained this will support the farmers she works with, too.

"For a fact, our dairy farmer has picked up new clients by doing this grocery set up," she said.

Bogacki said they are taking a break right now, but the grocery store concept was so successful, they plan to do it again once they open back up. They hope to reopen Yolklore on May 1 and plan to expand on their products.

The owner of the Shaved Duck and Scottish Arms, Ally Nisbet, talked with 5 On Your Side about why he started his grocery store services to help customers.

"I thought it'd be nice for people, didn't have to go inside and be safe picking up groceries," Nisbet said.

When planning on what to provide, he asked himself what were the essentials he would need?

"We can get things people want," he said.

READ MORE: List of restaurants in the St. Louis area offering curbside pickup

The owners added that turning restaurants into grocery stores is also an opportunity for employment.

"It does allow us to bring more people back to work," Schmidt explained.

Nisbet agreed, saying it keeps people employed. Cooking up this new plan is a way for businesses to stay open, for at least one more day.

"The community supported us for a long time, so we are here to help," Nisbet told 5 On Your Side.

Other locations such as Union Loafers and Bolyard's Meat and Provisions are doing this, as well.

All these owners said ordering online will be a quicker and easier process. They are asking for calls to be reserved for food orders.


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