BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
Normally, our focus on East Lake Street would include a couple of diverse dining experiences, a quirky little retail shop or two, maybe a race, festival or sports event, or some theaters, music venues or art galleries. In any case, you would be enticed to get out there and explore, experience and mingle with your neighbors. But of course, you can’t do that right now, since for about half of March, and most if not all of April, the entire state will be on stay-at-home orders. Now, what you may want to know is—what is even open, even if on restricted hours or restrictions on how many can go in? Where can I get curbside pickup food if I get tired of my own cooking? What vital suppliers deliver to the home if I can’t even go out due to illness? So, that’s the kind of information we’re trying to bring you this strange and historic month of April 2020, and to do so, we will go a few blocks afield of Lake Street to both the north and the south.
At the time of writing, almost all large and medium grocery stores in the area are open with varying degrees of social distancing protection. You can shop in person at Cub Foods Minnehaha Center, Target Minnehaha Center, Longfellow Market (3815 E. Lake), Aldi—both Hi-Lake Shopping Center and 2929 27th Ave. S., and the Seward Co-ops, both on Franklin Avenue and the Friendship store on 38th Street. I am not sure about distancing practices at all of these stores, but Seward Co-op regulates the number of shoppers at the door, and are also, for now, not charging for paper bags and discouraging people from bringing bags or containers from home. If you want delivery, one option I’ve tried with great results is Instacart, for the Wedge Co-op or for Target. (Please tip generously.) For medium-sized and convenience store type places, we have partial information. La Alborada, a Latinx small grocery at 1855 E. Lake, was open recently. The Produce Exchange at Midtown Global Market is taking online or phone orders for curbside pickup. Check out midtownglobalmarket.org for contact details for the produce market as well as the restaurants mentioned below. Los Arcos, the convenience store in the rear of Mercado Central, is reportedly open. Tom’s Superette on East 38th Street is open normal hours. Everett’s at East 38th Street is open part time. Other stores along East Lake include Lake and Park at 700 E. Lake; Amigos One Stop at 3159 Chicago; a Stop & Shop at 1715 E. Lake; and another at 2225 E. Lake; Dur Dur (African) Bakery&Grocery Store at 1552 E. Lake; La Mexicana at 1522 E. Lake; Holiday (also has gasoline) at 3550 Cedar; Speedway at 4320 E. Lake; and Walgreens at 3121 E. Lake. We believe these are all open at least part time.
For medications, both over-the-counter and prescription, Walgreens and Target mentioned above are resources. Almost all pharmacies remain open. Also, Rituals Aromatherapy in Midtown Global Market is offering curbside pickup at 612-729-5522.
If you’re having trouble paying for groceries right now, there are a number of free food programs either remaining in business or operating for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. Sisters Camelot is giving away produce at Walker Church on Tuesday afternoons. I believe they have one other distribution site on Thursdays. Need is outstripping availability right now, so to avoid disappointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get up-to-date information on if and how you can access their food share. Walker Church has suspended free community meals on Tuesdays but is continuing grocery giveaway while they can still get supplied, but pre-bagged rather than choose your own. The one-hour window for pickup at the church starts about when Sisters Camelot is finishing, around 5 p.m. They also ask that you email ahead to email@example.com. In some cases, they can reserve you a bag and deliver it to your home. The Salvation Army has a food shelf open Monday and Wednesday afternoon and Tuesday and Thursday morning at 1604 E. Lake St. Pillsbury United Communities is distributing pre-filled bags at the usual food bank hours at both Waite House (2323 11th Ave. S.) and the Brian Coyle Center (420 15th Ave. S.) See the website pillsburyunited.org/programs/food-distribution for days and times. Provision Community Restaurant has a model where they get food donations from restaurants and suppliers, and money from donors and pay-what-you-can (including zero) from patrons and normally serve a sit-down restaurant style meal—dinner selected weeknights and Saturday brunch. During the COVID-19 crisis, they are giving out box meals 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday from their location at 2940 Harriet Ave. S. Cafe Racer Kitchen at 2929 E. 25th St., has a program called Break Bread, which is a free community meal once a month. They changed that to a delivered meal by request for March and presumably will do the same for April. Check out caferacermn.com for menu, delivery options and details on Break Bread for April. Note this is not an exhaustive list of free food programs. See the last paragraph for more resources.
Restaurants have a choice of converting to curbside pickup takeout and/or deliveries, or closing completely during the stay-home period. A number of favorites in the community, including the May Day Cafe and the Co-op Creamery Cafe, have simply had to close for the duration. Reverie, the wonderful plant-based place we reviewed just before they were forced to close by their landlord several years ago, had just started up in our neighborhood at 35th and Bloomington at the first of the year when the pandemic hit. After announcing curbside pickup would begin, and in the wake of the closing of the nearby May Day Cafe due to a case of coronavirus on its staff, Reverie made the painful decision to close for an indeterminate time. Another great source of vegan food, as well as omnivore food, Modern Times, is also closed for an unspecified time. Read the heartfelt message from the owner and if you can, contribute to the fund to keep the staff going during the period of shutdown: gofundme.com/f/modern-times-cafe-covid19-fund They are also selling sauces and merch to be delivered; email firstname.lastname@example.org to order.
Restaurateur Kim Bartmann was apparently already struggling with declining business in the early days of the pandemic, and when the stay-at-home order came out, sadly all the restaurants in her “empire”closed except Barbette, which began offering a limited menu of curbside pickup. What was really sad, for all involved including Bartmann, is that she was not able to make the last payroll for the closed out staff. The latest word is that they have applied for an emergency small business loan to remedy this and have also re-opened Tiny Diner on E. 38th St. for curbside.
On the other hand, here are some of the places we know of that are offering one or both options of delivery or curbside pickup. Pizza Luce—what can I say? You can hardly tell the difference. They are still open their miraculous hours to 2 a.m. and still offer free delivery, plus now the option of curbside pickup. Don’t pay with cash and tip generously. There’s online ordering at pizzaluce.com. Check online services Bite Squad, GrubHub and Door Dash for up-to-the-minute delivery options, more than we can list here. Other favorites we last heard were open for curbside or delivered meals: Gandhi Mahal on 27th Avenue, the Himalayan at 2910 E. Lake, Merlin’s Rest at 3601 E. Lake (they’re doing their pub quiz on Facebook Live!), most of the dining spots in Midtown Global Market including Hot Indian Foods, Sabbai Cuisine, Jakeeno’s, and even the Eastlake Craft Brewery (see link above in grocery section), most of the dining spots in Mercado Central (see illustration), and finally, even though it’s pretty far from Lake Street, one of my favorites, Zen Box Izakaya on Washington Ave. S. (order at zenbox.com.)
Finally, those promised resources. Check out this directory of mutual aid for everything from running errands to small money grants: mutualaidhub.org. Zoom in on the map until you can see eight dots on Minneapolis.